Walking Cherbourg, France

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Cherbourg, France

Old town, new town, harbour, shopping mall. Everything in Cherbourg, France had one thing in common: charm. We walked right off the ship and found it everywhere.

Sometimes visits just work out. There are so many things that can work against a short stop along the way: weather can be unpredictable, moods can swing, travel ills can cause discomfort. But this day in Cherbourg, all the magic worked.

True to my travel style, I had done little research. I was asked by my history-buff friends: would we be visiting the sites of the Battle of Normandy? set foot on Omaha Beach? tour the medieval compounds? But, in a short morning and afternoon visit, I would have to spend 3 hours on a bus to get to those historical places. These are the compromises of travel, right? In this port, I had the opportunity to just step off the ship and walk. I took it.

We wound right around the harbour area, heading toward the darkened roofline of the medieval section of town.  Buildings defined the different areas: sparkling white stone and clean windows lined the harbour. Sharp-angled rooflines, so greyed that I was certain the soot from last century still lay upon the tiles, called to us to walk farther into the town and further back into this area’s past. History lay all around me. I listened for and heard the beautiful whirr of the French language.

 

The charm of the old town, with its twisting streets – narrow and lined with tall buildings – pulled us into the maze and immediately lost us. The only thing to do was to pick a direction and continue, relishing in the adventure of being lost in a safe place. Along the way, we strolled through a beautiful garden, the product of centuries of careful planning and tending. We strayed up a dead-end alleyway, then retraced our steps to find ourselves suddenly un-lost and at the door of the ancient sea-side church Basilique Sainte-Trinite. From this vantage, I looked back to the harbour, and once again found my bearings. We headed back into the old town, searching for the fountain, wandering along and enjoying the flow of other tourists and many residents.

The charm of the alleyways called my attention. Such a variety of narrow spits of passageways. Alleys were everywhere, laid out to connect walkers to different areas of town. Even in the residential sections, the narrow but open-topped tunnels cut a route from here to there. I couldn’t follow them all, but wanted to.

Through the neighborhoods we walked, and there we found residential charm. Attached to the apartment complexes were small plots of garden land, with pint-sized potting sheds sitting on each section. What would these city farmers plant in their gardens? As I walked, I saw rowcrops of vegetables, and many, many flowers. But mostly, I saw green. Green everything: grass, budding trees, leafing flowers and bushes.  We walked up the hills to the larger houses and back down into town, wanting to stretch our legs and our time.

Our return trip took us again through the old town.  A cafe owner was attending to patrons sitting at his sidewalk tables. He answered a remark by one of the customers. I didn’t hear the question, but the answer charmed me as much as the town itself had. “Stay as long as you want, we love your company.”

And that’s how I left our short visit to Cherbourg: relishing the welcome and feeling like I wanted to come back, explore the small inviting pathways, listen longer to the language, and enjoy the hospitality.

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Next stop, Brugge, Belgium

Stop by Restless Jo’s Monday Walks for more…

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28 thoughts on “Walking Cherbourg, France

  1. Oh, how I wish I could have gone along that walk with you! It must have been hard to make the decision to bypass the traditional destinations, but it’s obvious that you made the right decision for you. “…relishing in the adventure of being lost in a safe place” I love that!

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  2. I love being able to peep over fences and hedges into people’s gardens. Just nosy! 🙂 🙂 It sounds a charming town, with that ‘je ne sais quoi’. 🙂 Brugges next- I’ve been there, but I didn’t see much for freezing fog! I shall look forward to it. Thanks for the link, Susan.

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    1. Beth -Oh my goodness. I remember that movie now that you’ve reminded me. It also was charming, right? You would love the town. Honestly, though, I heard someone walking back to the ship say “Why would they bring us to such a nothing spot?” I was horrified – it was my perfect kind of destination. 🙂

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    1. Anita – I’m sure you find them, too – that travel moment that caps the visit. I always look for a personal happening that says something about a place. With the speed of our travels so far, it helps me remember something personal about the places and people we see. Are you back from Amsterdam?

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  3. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Burton Agnes | restlessjo

  4. Popped over from Jo’s to join you in your walk. How lovely! I too enjoy just wandering around and seeing what I find, old towns are generally enchanting and I always love to see what is growing in other people’s gardens 🙂
    Jude xx

    PS: So this was part of a cruise? Enjoyable? I’m considering a cruise – not those enormous ocean going liners, but something less intimidating and thinking a short one around Europe might be the way to start. Any hints?

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    1. Hi Jude. This was a cruise, but it was one of those monster ships. It’s a fairly reasonable way to travel from USA to Europe, and this itinerary was great. I don’t like crowds, and this ship was full, but I always found my private spots and quiet. I like the idea of the river cruises, but when I look at their schedules, they seem really ambitious. After a couple days of port-hopping, it’s nice to rest for a day 😉 Everything has its advantages. Good luck deciding. I’ll keep an eye out for a cruise post from you in the future! Susan

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  5. nice. I know a woman who lives close by Cherbourg but I haven’t have the chance to visit her yet. I like all your photos. I have been writing on my blog about all the places I visited in France last year…maybe you want to check it out !

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