Cherbourg: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 49°37′59″N 1°37′00″W / 49.633°N 1.6167°W / 49.633; -1.6167

Commune of Cherbourg-Octeville
Basilica of Holy Trinity
Cherbourg-Octeville is located in France
Country France
Region Basse-Normandie
Department Manche
Arrondissement Cherbourg
Intercommunality Cherbourg
Mayor Bernard Cazeneuve
Land area1 14.26 km2 (5.51 sq mi)
Population2 42,318  (1999)
 - Density 2,968 /km2 (7,690 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 50129/ 50100, 50130
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Town centre
Napoléon and Marie Louise attending the parade of the squadron in Cherbourg in 1811
Napoléon and the town centre

Cherbourg-Octeville is a commune in the Manche department in Normandy in north-western France.

It was formed when the city of Cherbourg was including the commune of Octeville on 28 February 2000, and was officially renamed Cherbourg-Octeville. In fact, people just say "Cherbourg".

Cherbourg holds an arsenal of the French Navy.



Cherbourg-Octeville is situated at the north of the Cotentin Peninsula. It is in the Manche département (of which it is the sous-préfecture) in the Basse-Normandie région. At the time of the 1999 census the city of Cherbourg had an area of 6.91 km² (2.668 sq mi), while the city of Octeville had an area of 7.35 km² (2.838 sq mi). The amalgamated city today has an area of 14.26 km² (5.506 sq mi).


The combined population of Cherbourg and Octeville at the 1999 census was 42,318 inhabitants. (Separately, the official numbers were 25,370 for Cherbourg and 16,948 for Octeville.) The population of Cherbourg metropolitan area (the aire urbaine de Cherbourg) at the 1999 census was 117,855 inhabitants. The city is now the second largest in the Basse-Normandie region (after Caen), surpassing Alençon, which had been second before the amalgamation. Also, the city is the largest in the Manche département, although Saint-Lô is the préfecture (capital).




The Cotentin was in fact the first territory conquered by the men from the North, the Vikings. For these sea people, it was logical that Cherbourg should become a port.

During the Seven Years' War the town was briefly occupied by a British force in the Raid on Cherbourg in 1758. The British destroyed military buildings and warehouses before departing.

In the Napoleonic era the harbour was fortified to prevent British naval incursions. Underwater obstructions were sunk at intervals across the harbour entrance, and then progressively replaced with piles of masonried rubble. Works began in 1784 and were not concluded until 1850, long after Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

On July 31, 1909, tsar Nicholas II and French president Armand Fallières met officially in Cherbourg to reinforce the Franco-Russian Alliance. Cherbourg was the first stop of RMS Titanic after it left Southampton, England. On 19 June 1864, the naval engagement between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama took place off Cherbourg. The Battle of Cherbourg, fought in June 1944 following the Normandy Invasion, ended with the capture of the city on 30 June.

The Norman language writers Alfred Rossel, a native of Cherbourg, composed many songs which form part of the heritage of the region. Rossel's song "Sus la mé" ("on the sea") is often sung as a regional patriotic song. The local dialect is known as Cotentinais.


La Glacerie comes from the French for glass factory. In 1655, Louis Lucas de Néhou built a glass factory which was provided for buildings like Galerie des Glaces and Château de Versailles. The factory in La Glacerie was destroyed by Allied bombardments in 1944.


Arms of Cherbourg-Octeville

The arms of Cherbourg-Octeville are blazoned :
Azure, on a fess argent between 3 bezants (Or), 3 mullets of 6 points sable.

Main sights

Public transport and infrastructure


Cherbourg is at the end of the N13 road from Paris and Caen.


The city's station is at the end of a railway line built by the Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest from Paris. Regular services operate to Paris-Saint-Lazare via Caen using Corail Intercites stock, local TER services operate from the station to Lisieux via Caen and to Rennes via Saint-Lô. As well as a main line station there was also the Gare Maritime Transatlantique station. This now forms part of the Cité de la mer.


Cherbourg-Octeville is a port on the English Channel with a number of regular passenger and freight ferry services operating from the large modern ferry terminal. The following operators currently run services from the port:-

Cherbourg-Octeville has previously had services operated by the following operators:-

  • Stena Line to Southampton (up to 2 sailings daily). Withdrawn in 1996.
  • P&O Ferries to Portsmouth (up to 2 sailings daily by conventional ferry and up to 3 by fast ferry during the summer). Withdrawn in 2005 following a business review.
  • P&O Irish Sea to Rosslare (up to 3 sailings weekly) and Dublin (weekends only during the summer). Dublin serice withdrawn in 2004 and Rosslare service sold top Celtic Link.
  • HD Ferries to Guernsey and Jersey. Operated in 2007 but cancelled in 2008 due to lack of customers.

In addition to ferry services the port also handles cruise ships at the Gare Maritime Transatlantique on the Quai de France next to the Cité de la mer and conventional cargo ships in the eastern area of the docks on the Quai des Flamands and Quai des Mielles.

Confederate States of America warship CSS Alabama

In November 1984, the French Navy mine hunter Circé discovered a wreck under nearly 60 m (200 ft) of water off Cherbourg.[2] The location of the wreck (WGS84) was 49°45'147N / 001°41'708W. Captain Max Guerout later confirmed the wreck to be of the Confederate States of America warship CSS Alabama.


The nearest airport is in Maupertus-sur-Mer which is named Cherbourg Maupertus.

Twin towns

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Cherbourg is in Basse-Normandie.

Get in


Cherbourg is easily assessable from Normandy and the rest of France, it is around 6 hours from Paris and around 10 to 11 from Bordeax


Cherbourg can be reached from Paris St Lazare on a direct train, otherwise there are services to Brittany and to (sometimes) the South West of France.


From United Kingdom going to and from Portsmouth, Plymouth and Poole

and Ireland going from Rosslare

Get around

A decent enough network of buses runs round the town, but everything can be reached by foot

  • The docks where the Titanic made its last stop before sinking. This is right next to the ferry terminals.
  • The Cité de la Mer is an aquarium situated in the restored trans-Atlantic railway terminal in Cherbourg. Visitors can explore an ocean diving area and a former French Army submarine. The monument was built in 1933 and the museum was opened in 2002.
  • There is a campsite to the east of the town, it is signposted from the Ferry Terminal.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHERBOURG, a naval station, fortified town and seaport of north-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Manche, on the English Channel, 232 m. W.N.W. of Paris on the Ouest-Etat railway. Pop. (1906) town, 35,710; commune, 43,827. Cherbourg is situated at the mouth of the Divette, on a small bay at the apex of the indentation formed by the northern shore of the peninsula of Cotentin. Apart from a fine hospital and the church of La Trinite dating from the 15th century, the town has no buildings of special interest. A rich collection of paintings is housed in the hotel de ville. A statue of the painter F. Millet, born near Cherbourg, stands in the public garden, and there is an equestrian statue of Napoleon I. in the square named after him. Cherbourg is a fortified place of the first class, headquarters of one of the five naval arrondissements of France, and the seat of a sub-prefect. It has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a chamber of commerce, a lycee and a naval school. The chief industries of the town proper are fishing, saw-milling, tanning, leatherdressing, ship-building, iron and copper-founding, rope-making and the manufacture of agricultural implements. There are stone quarries in the environs, and the town has trade in farm produce.

Cherbourg derives its chief importance from its naval and commercial harbours, which are distant from each other about half a mile. The former consists of three main basins cut out of the rock, and has an area of 55 acres. The minimum depth of water is 30 ft. Connected with the harbour are dry docks, the yards where the largest ships in the French navy are constructed, magazines, rope walks, and the various workshops requisite for a naval arsenal of the first class. The works and town are carefully guarded on every side by redoubts and fortifications, and are commanded by batteries on the surrounding hills. There is a large naval hospital close to the harbour. The commerical harbour at the mouth of the Divette communicates with the sea by a channel 650 yds. long. It consists of two parts, an outer and tidal harbour 171 acres in extent, and an inner basin 15 acres in extent, with a depth on sill at ordinary spring tide of 25 ft. Outside these harbours is the triangular bay, which forms the roadstead of Cherbourg. The bay is admirably sheltered by the land on every side but the north. On that side it is sheltered by a huge breakwater, over 2 m. in length, with a width of 650 ft. at its base and 30 ft. at its summit, which is protected by forts, and leaves passages for vessels to the east and west. These passages are guarded by forts placed on islands intervening between the breakwater and the mainland, and themselves united to the land by breakwaters. The surface within these barriers amounts to about 3700 acres. Cherbourg is a port of call for the American, North German Lloyd and other important lines of transatlantic steamers. The chief exports are stone for road-making, butter, eggs and vegetables; the chief imports are coal, timber, superphosphates and wine from Algeria. Great Britain is the principal customer.

Cherbourg is supposed by some investigators to occupy the site of the Roman station of Coriallum, but nothing definite is known about its origin. The name was long regarded as a corruption of Caesaris Burgus (Caesar's Borough). William the Conqueror, under whom it appears as Carusbur, provided it with a hospital and a church; and Henry II. of England on several occasions chose it as his residence. In 1295 it was pillaged by an English fleet from Yarmouth; and in the 14th century it frequently suffered during the wars against the English. Captured by the English in 1418 after a four months' siege, it was recovered by Charles VII. of France in 1450. An attempt was made under Louis XIV. to construct a military port; but the fortifications were dismantled in 1688, and further damage was inflicted by the English in 1758. In 1686 Vauban planned harbour-works which were begun under Louis XVI. and continued by Napoleon I. It was left, however, to Louis Philippe, and particularly to Napoleon III., to complete them, and their successful realization was celebrated in 1858, in the presence of the queen of England, against whose dominions they had at one time been mainly directed. At the close of 1857, £8,000,000, of which the breakwater cost over £2,500,000, had been expended on the works; in 1889 a further sum of £680,000 was voted by the Chamber of Deputies for the improvement of the port.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



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Proper noun


  1. A coastal town in Normandy, France


Proper noun


  1. Cherbourg


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