France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Saint-Lô, Normandy, France
Known after World War II as the "Capital of Ruins," the ancient Normandy town of Saint-Lô has been tastefully rebuilt.




It is a dubious distinction to be known as the Capital of Ruins, but that is sadly what Saint-Lô, 70 km (43 miles) west of Caen in Normandy, has been known for since the 1940s.

As a major center of transportation and communications, the town was hard hit by bombs in the Battle of Normandy, in June and July of 1944. It is estimated that 95% of the buildings of the town were destroyed, by both the Germans and the Allies.

As the city was rebuilt, the builders decided to repair the Church of Notre-Dame, but to leave the front as it was following the battle. You can visit the church and enjoy its stained glass, both modern and ancient (some of which was saved by being taken out before the bombing).

Some of Saint-Lô's historic ramparts also remain, another reminder of the resiliency of this town.

Today Saint-Lô is a bustling town, with shops, restaurants, museums, and monuments. It's less than an hour southwest of Caen, or about 40 minutes southwest of Bayeux.

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Église Notre-Dame, Saint-Lô, France

Above, Église Notre-Dame, Saint-Lô,
showing the damage from World War II.

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