Overview of Cherbourg a Coastal Normandy Town in France

Statue of Napoleon Bonaparte, Cherbourg, France


Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

Cherbourg sits on the tip of the Cotentin Peninsula in the Normandy Region of France. Most cruise ships dock in Le Havre for passengers to visit either the Normandy beaches or Paris. 

However, Cherbourg is sometimes a substitute port of call. Cruise ship passengers with a day in Cherbourg can visit the Normandy beaches, the Saire Valley, Cap de la Hague at the tip of the Cotentin peninsula, or Mont Saint Michel.

Many passengers choose to either walk into town (about 15 minutes) or take a shuttle bus. Cherbourg is a town of about 80,000 residents and is best known for its aquarium, parks, and museums.

Many tourists reach Cherbourg via a ferry across the English Channel or La Manche in French.

For cruise ship passengers with a day in Cherbourg, it's a pleasant French town to explore for a few hours.

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Downtown Cherbourg

Cherbourg, France - Downtown Cherbourg

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

Like many small European towns, Cherbourg has a nice pedestrian walking and shopping area in the old part of downtown. It's fun to just stroll the narrow streets, peer in the shop windows, and take time to enjoy a coffee or a beer.

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Cherbourg Theatre

Cherbourg Theatre was built in 1882

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

The Cherbourg Theatre was built in 1882 in an Italian design and was decorated by the same artists who did the Paris Opera House. 

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Quiet Pedestrian Streets

Cherbourg Pedestrian Street

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

Those who like to escape the crowds can find a quiet street in Cherbourg without much effort, even on a busy summer day.

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Shopping Street

Cherbourg Pedestrian Street

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

This street is one of the commercial shopping areas of the Cherbourg pedestrian zone. The small shops can't compare with the couture or boutique shops in Paris, but provide an excellent look at life in a small French town.

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Street Along the Yacht Basin

Street Along the Yacht Basin in Cherbourg

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

Enjoy a walk on the main street that runs along the yacht basin. The walk from the cruise ship terminal to the yacht basin only takes about 15 minutes.

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La Cite de la Mer Maritime Museum

Cherbourg Yacht Basin and Harbor

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

Fans of cruise ship history might want to take time to visit the La Cite de la Mer, which is a maritime museum near the Cherbourg harbor. This museum includes exhibits on the Titanic since it was a port of call for the cruise ship's first (and last) voyage.

You will also find a gallery dedicated to men and their machines, an exhibition on the depths of the sea, and a retired French submarine named Le Redoutable.

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Fort du Roule

Fort du Roule in Cherbourg, France

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

Fort du Roule sits on a hill overlooking Cherbourg. A World War II museum is housed in the old fort. This fort was one of the most important during the war since its purpose was to protect the artificial harbor at Cherbourg. Visitors wear caving hats with lamps to go inside the bunkers to see where the guns and munitions were located.

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Carriage Rides on the Pier

Carriage Rides on the Pier in Cherbourg

Linda Garrison / Trip Savvy

Passengers arriving on cruise ships are treated to free carriage rides around the Cherbourg cruise ship pier.

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