The Port of Cherbourg, is situated at the Northern tip of the Cherbourg Peninsula, in an area of France known as Haute Normande. Cherbourg is located in a very protected harbour with no less than two long breakwaters.
Besides being an attractive harbour, Cherbourg is also a transatlantic seaport, a major naval base, a fishing centre and has a large marina. It is also a manufacturing centre.
As a ferry port, Cherbourg is very convenient with around 6 sailings a day to and from Portsmouth and Poole by traditional ferry or fast craft operated by P & O ferries and Brittany Ferries. Traditional ferries take about 5 hours in the day and 8 hours overnight while, if speed is of essence, the P&O Ferries fast craft Portsmouth Express takes just 2 hours and 45 minutes.
To Do & see in Cherbourg
The Cité de la Mer
The Cité de la Mer is a fantastic aquarium, housed in the restored trans-Atlantic terminal. Visitors can explore an ocean diving area and a former nuclear submarine.
Fort du Roule
Walk or drive to the Fort du Roule, which provides a commanding view of the port. This also houses the Musée de la Libération, commemorating D-Day and the liberation of Cherbourg in the Second World War.
The lively Cherbourg market is held in front of the theatre every Thursday. For those wanting to stock up, there are also several hypermarkets on the edge of town.
Ravalet Château in Tourlaville is a wonderful example of the Renaissance style. Nestled in a small valley, the Château is set in a huge park with ponds.
Two of France's unmissable attractions are a short drive from Cherbourg. The famous Bayeux Tapestry is a stunning piece of work from the 11th century, depicting the Battle of Hastings. Mont St Michel is a World Heritage site, and its Benedictine Abbey is an exquisite and magical sight, perched on the top of a rocky islet rising dramatically out of the sea.
Eating & Drinking
Many of Cherbourg's best restaurants are situated portside, while nice cafés can be found on the Place de Verdun. For tea try the Café Pompon to savour delicious desserts such as coffee parfait. For lunch or dinner, head for the Brasserie Du Commerce , which has excellent service, very good food, and generous portions. Le Cotentin, on the Quay de Caligny, overlooks the Avant Port, also has delicious dishes and a great view from its first floor restaurant.
Getting to Cherbourg Ferry Port
Cherbourg is one of the best-connected ferry ports in France. Brittany Ferries sail to Cherbourg from Poole and Portsmouth and offer the fastest available crossing to this port via our high speed ferry service from Poole.
Take the N13 to Caen and the D901 to Cherbourg. Once in Cherbourg, it is easy to find the port, which is clearly signposted.
Taxis can normally be found outside the terminal. If there are no taxis available, passengers are advised to contact the Brittany Ferries information desk in the terminal.
The nearest bus stop is on "Boulevard Maritime" near the cinema..
Regular services operate from Cherbourg train station to Caen, Rouen, Paris St Lazare (via Caen) and Rennes (via Lison). Cherbourg train station is located in the centre of the town and is a 5 minute taxi journey from the ferry terminal.
It takes approximately 10-15 minutes to walk to the town centre and 40 minutes to the train station from the terminal.
There is a car park situated in front of the terminal. Parking here is free but for short stays only. There is also an area near the terminal where cars and caravans may park for the night. Also near the terminal, there is secure parking for longer stays.
Old Cherbourg is probable built on the site of the Roman camp of Coriallum, although no visible ruins remain. The name of Cherbourg first appeared in 1026 when Duke Richard II donated the castle to his future wife.
Development of Cherbourg as a port was significantly aided following creation of the Anglo-Norman state in 1066 after William's victory at Hastings. In 1204, the King of France, Philip-Auguste, took control of Normandy.
Franco-English relations deteriorated and in 1295 the English carried out the first of many raids on Cherbourg, and set fire to the town. Only the castle held firm and it was later fortified several times. In 1337, the Hundred Years War began and Cherbourg became a strategic trump card with the town changing sovereign six times.
In 1563 and in 1574, the Protestants of Normandy, tried to capture Cherbourg but the town was victoriously defended by Jacques de Matignon whose descendants subsequently governed Cherbourg until the middle of the 18th century.
In 1686, Vauban suggested important defence works but these were never completed. At that time, the harbour consisted of a natural lagoon where forty vessels could anchor but with no protection as shown by the aftermath of the 1692 battle known as the La Hougue.
From 1739 to 1744, on the orders of Louis XV, the town was given a commercial port that, in 1758, was entirely destroyed when the British again captured Cherbourg. These were restored in a long-term project begun in the 1770s and completed mid-19th century.
In 1940, the Germans occupied Cherbourg and developed the port as a base for U-boats - protected by massive concrete "pens".