Known officially as Cherbourg-Octeville, this well-known Channel port and gateway to France for thousands of Brits every year, sits at the northern end of the Cotentin peninsula in the department of Manche. It is the sub-prefecture of the department; the capital being St-Lô. As well as being a cross-Channel ferry port, Cherbourg harbour is also a base for fishing boats, navy vessels and leisure craft. Often overlooked by travellers heading for destinations further south, it is a coastal town with a fantastic choice of restaurants and bars as well as an incredible marina, and the Cité de la Mer maritime museum.
Cherbourg is also in close proximity to some of France’s best tourist attractions and major cities in the region, being just an hour from the city of Bayeux, home of the eponymous tapestry, half an hour from the pretty fishing harbour town of Barfleur, which was an important port in the Middle Ages, and is still a big yachting and fishing port today, and two hours from Mont St-Michel. Manche also boasts some 330km of coastline and has a wealth of beautiful beaches along its shores, many of which have been awarded Blue Flag status. Cherbourg is also within easy reach of Utah Beach, which was one of the places the Allies came ashore during the Normandy Landings in 1944.
• Average annual temperature: 7.9°C/13.5°C • Average annual rainfall: 919.7mm • Average annual sunshine hours: approximately 1,690 across Normandy • Average property price in Manche: €120,000 • Average property price in Cherbourg: €137,800
They know how to party in Normandy, kicking off the year with what is the region’s longest running street carnival, the Carnaval de Granville, in February. The 2016 Tour de France will set off from the foot of Mont St-Michel on 2 July for three days of racing around Manche, providing breathtaking scenery for cyclists and spectators.
Seafood including AOC Bouchot mussels, oysters, scallops and clams, agneau de pré-salé – salt marsh lamb fed on the grass of Baie de Mont St-Michel – and tergoule, a rice pudding dish baked with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Drink-wise, cider and pommeau are not to be missed.
Brittany Ferries (Poole & Portsmouth), Stena Line (Rosslare), Condor Ferries (Portsmouth) and Irish Ferries (Rosslare & Dublin) all have regular sailings to Cherbourg.
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