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FR NORMANDY MANCHE Napoléon à cheval Cherbourg (pop 40,500) is the largest city in the Manche department. Since 2000, Cherbourg became officially known as Cherbourg-Octeville, as it got united with the adjacent city.  

Due to its coastal location, Cherbourg became an important port city very early on in history. It has welcomed everyone, from the Vikings and Napoleon, to the British who raided Cherbourg during the Seven Years War. Cherbourg was also an important underwater petrol supplier to the Allies during WWII after the D-Day attacks. However, it is hardly a glamorous city and is usually frequented by sailing enthusiasts and Channel crossers.

Cherbourg’s city centre is west of Bassin du Commerce. The train and bus stations are south of the Bassin, at Gare de Cherbourg and Quai de l’Entreport, respectively. The ferry terminal is southeast of Cité de la mer.


NORMANDY MANCHE cherbourg cité de la mer - cherbourgThe Cité de la mer [Gare Maritime Transatlantique, +33 233202626, ad/ch €15.50/10.50 (seasonal pricing)] is probably the most iconic sight in Cherbourg. It is a large complex with interesting art-deco, sitting in the transatlantic ferry terminal. It houses the deepest European aquarium, devoting its space to the education of the area’s marine habitat. It also showcases Le Redoubtable- a French nuclear submarine that was in service from 1967-1991. It also features an ocean diving area.

The Musée Thomas Henry [4 rue Vastel, +33 233233930, Free] is also worth visiting, as it displays over 300 pieces by artists from France as well as other European nations, including those of Cotentin- born, Jean François Millet.

The Emmanuel Liais Gardens [between the Rue de l'Abbaye and the Rue de la Bucaille, ] is another spot to ferret out, as it boasts a number of rare flora, such as the Lambert Cypress and the Jubea. The gardens were cultivated and designed by the city’s former mayor, Emmanuel Liais, a botany enthusiast who spent a lot of his time in countries like Brazil.  He managed to cultivate some of the plants from those countries in this garden.