At the end of the peninsula of Cotentin stands the city of Cherbourg, a fishing and sailing port. Greatly enjoyed by tourists, the city is full of parks and gardens (Montebello) and remarkable religious buildings (Saint-Martin's Church, Saint-Bartholomew's Chapel and the Basilica of the Holy Trinity).
Cherbourg's man-made harbour, the largest in the world, can be visited by boat when the weather is fine. Awarded four flowers at the national 'communities in bloom' competition, Cherbourg also has many parks worth visiting. The Emmanuel Liais Park, for example, contains various rare species, as does the garden of the old naval hospital. In case of rain, the most cynical can visit the umbrella factory, which offers guided tours. As for art lovers, they can head to the Thomas Henry Museum devoted to Impressionism.
The Cité de la Mer maritime museum is extremely well designed, for both adults and children. Children will enjoy wandering around the Redoutable submarine and exploring the seabeds and the aquarium, the deepest in Europe, while adults will appreciate the Grande Galerie des Engins et des Hommes (Great Gallery of Men and Machines). For history and architecture buffs, the Holy Trinity Basilica is not to be missed. This Gothic-style religious building is one of the oldest monuments in the city and is distinguished by its beautiful furniture. It also has an extensive history as it was partially destroyed during the Hundred Years War. The Italian-style theatre is also worth a visit. Nicknamed the "théâtre d'Or" (theatre of gold) due to the exuberance of the place, it is one of the last remaining theatres of this style and is listed as a historical monument. Another must see is the Roule Fort as it houses the Musée de la Guerre et de la Libération (War and Liberation Museum), which retraces the history of the region and takes you on a very interesting journey through time.
Don't forget to pack a windbreaker, as it is sometimes very windy, which can be slightly irritating on long walks. Note that the admission fees for the Cité de la Mer are cheaper in low season, dropping from ?18 (£15) for adults between April and September to ?15.50 (£13) from January to March and October to December.
It would be a shame to only visit Cherbourg for its maritime museum, so don't hesitate to spend a bit longer in this lovely town checking out its architectural wonders, such as the Saint Barthélemy chapel and the Montebello garden.
Strictly speaking, Cherbourg doesn't have any gastronomic specialities, but it does offer freshly and expertly prepared cuisine. This is especially the case with the lobster. In the city, it is called the Demoiselle de Cherbourg (damsel of Cherbourg), in part due to its small size. The most traditional dish is matelote, a simple stew made from pieces of fish cooked in a red or white wine sauce. Finally, a visit to Cherbourg is also the chance to discover a drink that is dear to Normandy: cider.
It would be a shame to return from Normandy empty-handed, so as this is the region that produces the best cider, don't deprive yourself! You will also find excellent cheeses, including Camembert. Both inexpensive and compact, they make great souvenirs. You can also buy non-perishable souvenirs at the Cité de la Mer museum, such as miniature models of the Titanic (which made a stopover in the city in 1912).