Where else would you find big sandy beaches, exotic plants and the deepest aquarium in Europe?
1. Prizewinning Parks
There are two ‘Jardins Remarquables’ in Cherbourg – Parc Liais on account of its non-indigenous species (including a Japanese azaelea over 100 years old and the only Brazilian jubaea spectabilis palm in France) and Parc des Ravalet for its attractive English and French style gardens and its impressive glasshouse rotunda.
2. Brolly Good Show
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jacques Demy’s musical film, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, there are guided tours of the locations used to shoot Catherine Deneuve’s scenes, plus an exhibition of film stills. You can also visit the city’s umbrella factory to see how Le Véritable Cherbourg is made.
3. A Watery World
La Cité de la Mer is a family attraction devoted to the deep sea. Inside are exhibitions on the Titanic (which called at Cherbourg on 10 April 1912) and Le Redoutable, the largest submarine open to the public. The cultural complex also houses the deepest aquarium in Europe with 4,000 fish.
4. Sail into Summer
Cherbourg is home to the top pleasure port in the west, so take to the water for some sailing, surfing, kayaking… or any other of the 20 watersports suggested by Contentin Nautisme. There’s something to suit all levels, adults and children alike.
5. Time Trail
Key monuments in Cherbourg include the Théâtre à l’Italienne opera house, the listed Renaissance-style Château des Ravalet, the 12th-century Abbaye du Voeu and the Flamboyant Gothic Basilique de la Trinité, as well as the typical blue schist houses in the city centre.
6. Home of Art and History
There are three museums in Cherbourg: the Musée de la Libération (WW2 Cherbourg) and Muséum Emmanuel-Liais (natural history, archaeology and ethnography) and Musée d’Art Thomas-Henry (fine arts).
7. Shop Til You Drop
In Cherbourg, you’ll find a market every day of the week, with the main ones being held at Place du Gaulle on Thursdays and Saturdays. The town centre is home to a wide range of shops and a shopping centre, Les Eléis, recently opened on Quai de l’Entrepôt.
8. Talking Your Language
The tourist office offers free guided tours of the city in English, most of which are geared around local heritage. In its heydey, Cherbourg was the most important port in the world!
9. Coast with the Most
There are some big sandy beaches in Cherbourg and Plage de Querqueville is one of the most popular with children. Close to Plage de Collignon is a campsite and swimming pool, while Plage de la Saline is a haven for walkers and cyclists. Enjoy the sea air!
10. Free for All
This year, the calendar of free exhibitions includes the Tardi Biennial (a retrospective of the work of the father of modern comics) in July and Le Musée Fait le Mur, until September. There are free exhibitions this summer at Château des Ravalet and Abbaye du Voeu as well.