It was in the Coutances area that the sons of Tancrede of Hauteville were born: they were the knights who founded the kingdom of Sicily in the 11th Century. This page of history is one of many written in the Coutances area.

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The region has a rich past, mirrored in its architectural heritage:  the Gothic cathedral of Coutances (one of the finest examples in France), the lime kilns of Regnéville-sur-Mer, manor-farms, the chateaux of Gratot and Pirou, the abbeys of Blanchelande, Hambye and Lessay, and many churches, chapels, gardens and parks… The Coutances area combines bocage and coastal landscapes, and is a very popular holiday destination due to its long sandy beaches and seaside resorts: Agon-Coutainville and Hauteville- sur-mer, have  both been given the “Famille Plus” award.

 

 

The Coutances area hosts many cultural events and festivals. Pop music, jazz, blues... every type of music has its festival here: “Jazz sous les pommiers”, in Coutances, “Quai des Blues” in Regnéville-sur-Mer, “Chauffer dans la Noirceur” in Montmartin ! Another key event in the area is the millennial fair in Lessay.
 

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Ideas of visits, local curiosities

The fishery “La Maillard"

There are only two examples of this type of fishery in Europe, both located in la Manche: "La Petite" at Agon and "La Maillard" at Hauteville-sur-Mer. The latter wooden fishery, placed at about one kilometre off the coast can be seen at low tide only. The fishery stands on the sand; wooden posts are planted in the sand at 60cm intervals. Measuring between 50cm and 1.5 meters in height, the wooden posts have branches woven around them; they form a V shaped “hedge”, with the point facing the sea. When the tide goes out, the fish is trapped between the “hedges”.


 


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The port of Regnéville-sur-mer

This peaceful natural harbour, close to the vestiges of a 12th Century castle, was in the past a key location for fishing and for commerce. Its history is told in the maritime museum, situated close to the lime kilns of Rey. They are also a testimony to prosperous times – albeit short – in Regnéville: thirty years during which limestone was calcined to produce quicklime, used in construction and to enrich agricultural land.


“La côte des havres”

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A horse-drawn carriage on the beach

In Gouville-sur-Mer, take a ride on the beach at low tide in a carriage drawn by Norman cobs and Percherons: You will get up close to oyster beds and mussel posts, and make a halt to sample oysters and a glass of white wine!
 

The chateau of Pirou and the legend of the geese

Built during the 12th Century, the fortified castle of Pirou houses a bakery, a press-house, a chapel ... but also a justice room and living quarters (vieux logis). From the sentry path (chemin de ronde), the magnificent schist roof can be seen. Behind its moats, high walls and fortified gates, this intimidating place is also the scene of a strange story, the legend of the geese of Pirou: Besieged by the Normans, the lord of Pirou and his family transformed themselves into geese to flee from their attacker. Normandy and particularly la Manche have inspired many legends!


The abbey of Lessay

Trinity Abbey was founded during the 11th Century, on marshy land, on the south bank of river Ay, at the end of the harbour. Barbey d'Aurevilly visited the church in 1864, after his novel "L'Ensorcelée" (1852) was published. In his book, he mentions the vast and wild heatherland which surrounded the abbey. Entirely destroyed in 1944, the abbey was rebuilt exactly as before, thanks to archives kept in Paris.

On the West coast of la Manche, a succession of eight harbours

The Harbour of la Vanlée

Situated in the south-west of the department, between Agon-Coutainville and Granville, is an estuary where the river Vanlée flows. The harbour’s particularity is an immense “tongue” of sand, stretching to the North; its end is named “the end of the world”. The harbour of la Vanlée is an arm of sea – turning Saint-Martin-de-Bréhal into a peninsula – and consists of salt marshes, where sheep like to graze when the sea is out. But when the tide range is at its maximum, the sea floods the submersible road.
 

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The harbour of Blainville

Just off Blainville-sur-Mer, behind a strip of coastal dunes, the silted harbour has been partly converted for agricultural activities, oyster farming and tourism purposes.

 

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The harbour of Regnéville

In Regnéville-sur-Mer, the river Sienne flows into the Channel; its estuary, where fresh and sea water meet, covers almost 900 hectares, between the headlands of Agon and Montmartin-sur-Mer. Brent geese, oystercatchers and Kentish plovers enjoy this environment where they come to winter and nest in the spring.
 

The harbour of Geffosses

The harbour of Geffosses is a reserve of 185 hectares which spreads onto the communes of Geffosses and Anneville-sur-Mer. The site is a migratory stop-over location, and a wintering and breeding site for many birds and waders.

 

The harbour of Surville

The dunes spread deep into the land here, and are relatively well preserved from urbanisation and agriculture. The site is characterised by a dense network of watering “ponds”, ideal for the breeding of amphibians. It is in the vicinity of such a pond that a cluster of Fen orchid was found; this species of orchid is particularly rare and was thought to have completely disappeared in Lower-Normandy.
 

Holiday NormandyThe harbour of Saint-Germain-Sur-Ay

It is the largest harbour on the West coast of Cotentin (600 ha), delimited to the north by the “Pointe du Banc” in St Germain sur Ay, and to the south by the dunes of Créances.
Constituted of dunes and salt-marshes, you will find here Kentish plovers there but also many amphibians and of course the famous “pré-salé” lambs.


 

Weekend Normandy - M. Lerouge CDT50The harbour of Portbail

Situated on the commune of Portbail, it is formed by the mouth of the river Olonde. The dunes of Sainte-Marie and the southern part of the dunes of Lindbergh form a strip of sand.

 
The harbour of Carteret

The port of Carteret was created in the natural harbour, sheltered by the headland of Carteret; a lighthouse was built here in 1837. 

Agon-Coutainville, situated between Coutances and Granville, is one of the prettiest sea resorts on the coast, with its promenade along the sea front and its typical 19th Century seaside architecture.

A seaside resort

Agon-Coutainville has been given the “Blue Flag Beach”, “Station Verte” and “Famille Plus” awards; it is an ideal location for a holiday with family and friends, and is one of the most popular resorts in Normandy.

With its many restaurants and small bars, it is a good place for an enjoyable evening out.

Sports enthusiasts will have the opportunity to try sand-yachting, windsurfing, dinghy or catamaran sailing etc, at the Coutainville sailing school. If you prefer horses, you will find everything you want at the riding school.

 

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A key natural site 

Weekend NormandyLa Pointe d’Agon

Pointe d’Agon is first and foremost a wild and lively natural space, constantly changing with the tides and light. It is a strip of sand, south of Coutainville (classed “natural site” in 1989) and is the result of the encounter between the river Sienne and the sea. La Pointe d'Agon is a part of one the most beautiful harbours: the harbour of Regneville.

 

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The lighthouse of Pointe d'Agon

The lighthouse of Pointe d'Agon (which once guided commercial vessels to the port of Regnéville-sur-Mer) and the monument dedicated to poet Fernand Lechanteur are also worth a detour!