France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Cherbourg, Normandy, France
This historic port is known for its harbor, car ferries to England and Ireland, and as the setting for an award-winning 1964 musical film.




Cherbourg (officially Cherbourg-Octeville) sits at the northern tip of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy 96 km (61 miles) northwest of Bayeux (map).

Cherbourg has been a port since Viking times, and is still an important port of call for cruise ships—indeed, the Titanic stopped in Cherbourg for servicing before setting off across the Atlantic—and for car ferries to England and Ireland.

Although relatively remote from the rest of France (and closer to England), it is served by major train lines from Paris and Caen and is not far from Utah Beach, westernmost of the D-Day beaches.

Cherbourg was made famous in the 1964 movie, Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), featuring the 17-year-old Catherine Deneuve, a romantic musical story in which all the dialogue is sung.

Having suffered from some bombing (and total destruction of its harbor by the Germans) before and during the D-Day landings, its German occupiers wisely withdrew (contrary to Hitler's orders), saving much of the historic city center from ruin. Cherbourg thus has modern port facilities, but the city center also preserves a satisfying amount of traditional architecture.

A center of interest for visitors is the Cité de la Mer, a fine maritime museum and exhibition center set up in the grand Art Deco former cruise ship terminal (1933) at the end of the wharf. More...

Where to Stay

Most Cherbourg hotels are comfortable and utilitarian, not grand, but fine for a short stay. One of the best is the 3-star, 21-room Logis La Résidence in the historic center. More...

The 2-star, 22-room Citotel Hôtel Beauséjour is also in the historic center, and a bit less expensive. More...

The 2-star, 17-room Hôtel de la Gare is right across the street from the train station, and the 3-star, 84-room Marine Hotel Cherbourg is right out at the end of the dock next to the Cité de la Mer. More...

Click here for more Cherbourg hotels...


La Gare de Cherbourg SNCF is at the southern end of the harbor (map), with trains to Caen, Rennes, Rouen, and Paris's Gare St-Lazare.

Ferries across the English Channel connect Cherbourg with ports in southern England and Ireland. More...

Mont St-Michel




D-Day Beaches

Normandy Transport

Transport in France

About Normandy

About Brittany


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Cité de la Mer, Cherbourg, Normandy, France

Above, the Cité de la Mer museum and exhibition center in the former cruise ship terminal of Cherbourg.


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