St Valery en Caux

  • Saint-Valery-en-Caux is a small fishing port located in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute Normandie region in the north of France. Situated between Dieppe and Fécamp on the Alabaster Coast, it is roughly 125 miles from Paris. The town is probably best known to the British for the WWII battle that took place here between the 51st Highland Division (under command of the French 2nd Cavalry Division) ...
    © Louis Capeloto / 123RF
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination France

Saint-Valery-en-Caux is a small fishing port located in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute Normandie region in the north of France. Situated between Dieppe and Fécamp on the Alabaster Coast, it is roughly 125 miles from Paris. The town is probably best known to the British for the WWII battle that took place here between the 51st Highland Division (under command of the French 2nd Cavalry Division) and several German divisions which saw the British surrender to Rommel's tanks and spend the rest of the war in a PoW camp. The town is named after the monk Vallery who died here in 662 and was beatified, although there are traces of history going back to Roman times. Much of the town centre was destroyed during the war and was rebuilt following the cessation of hostilities. Popular in the summer with both locals and tourists alike, this typical French seaside town of around 5,000 in habitants is a pleasant place to stop off at as you make your way along the Norman coast.

St Valery en Caux: what to do?

Most people go to the town during the summer months to enjoy the quaint way of life and the pebble beach. However, it is also worth wandering around the town to take in the numerous flowers: the town has a maximum four flowers in the ?Villes et Villages Fleuris' competition, which awards French towns and villages for their floral displays. To morning walk down to the marina is also not to be missed as the five professional fishermen left in the town sell their produce fresh off the boats at the small market there. The town also boasts a casino as well as several festivals throughout the year, including a photography festival and two which are dedicated to mackerel and herring!

Perhaps the main feature of the town are its white chalk cliffs, which, although do not boast arches such as those in Etretat, are impressive all the same and can be seen far along the coast. Situated at the end of wall on the coast is the town's lighthouse which was built in 1872. It is not open to visitors, but is worth visiting for the view. Within the town is the half-timber house, Henry IV, which dates from the mid-16th century and which now serves at the tourist office. The church, Notre-Dame-de-Saint-Valery-en-Caux, dates from around the same time and has a stained glass window donated by the city of Inverness (with which Saint-Valery-en-Caux is twined). Just outside the Franco-British Cemetery where soldiers from the 51st Highland Division and 2nd French Cavalry are laid to rest. There is also a memorial to each division on the cliffs of the town.

Reminders

There is no train station in the town meaning you will have to arrive by road or by bus from a nearby town. There are train stations in Dieppe, Fécamp and Le Havre from where you can get a bus. If you are arriving from the UK then you should take your car on the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe or from Portsmouth to Le Havre and complete the journey by road. Bear in mind though that it can be very difficult to park in the town, especially during high season. There is a limited number of hotel rooms too so you might want to consider camping or bringing your holiday home.

To avoid

Like many of the towns and cities in this region, they can get extremely busy when the weather is good, especially during the school holidays and during the summer months. If this is likely to bother you then avoid these periods.

St Valery en Caux: what to eat?

There is no speciality as such in Saint-Valery-en-Caux, although the town of course has excellent, fresh seafood and all the other specialities that you'd expect from a Norman town.

St Valery en Caux: what to buy?

As there are no real specialities from Saint-Valery-en-Caux, it is difficult to advise on what to bring back home for friends and family. There will of course be local shops selling local produce, but nothing that you couldn't find in any number of the towns along the coast.

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