We visited

La Cité de la Mer in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin

A dive to the bottom of the sea
Photo, © François Dourlen

It's been more than 20 years since La Cité de la Mer first opened its doors. Situated in the old transatlantic liner terminal in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, the museum tells the tale of man’s adventures under the sea. We decided to take our kids for a dive into the depths of the ocean. We visited the Redoutable submarine, the abyssal aquarium, the Ocean of the Future exhibition and the rest, and we’ll tell you all about it!

The Ocean of the Future, our favourite part

As soon as we stepped through the door of this exhibition, we plunged straight into the atmosphere.
Opposite us was Planet Ocean, a giant sphere reminding us that life began in the ocean three billion years ago. The immersion started with large glass screens showing images of dolphins, sharks, whales, and so on. Next, we journeyed down to the infinitely small, discovering plankton populations, which despite being invisible, are essential to human survival. We tested the giant magnifiers, games and virtual reality experience.

Then we came face-to-face with the oldest living creatures known to humankind, which survived the dinosaurs. We enjoyed watching the nautiluses, seahorses, jellyfish and moray eels swimming in five cylindrical tanks.

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    Photo, © Aymeric Picot
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    Photo, © Vincent Rustuel
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    Photo, © B Almodovar

We carried on down the abyssal staircase to the ocean depths. We were surrounded by images and sounds of whales, iguanas, octopuses, manta rays and more: a unique experience (don’t forget to watch your step!). Moving on, we reached the strange world of the ocean floor, with mythical wrecks, a look at the seabed, and stories from pioneers such as James Cameron, telling us about what they’ve seen in the depths of the ocean.

Next, we explored the world of Jules Verne and the story of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus, ending with a stunning view of the abyssal aquarium!

We carried on through the sea garden, with different sensory experiences, to some more aquariums, an interactive wall and a touch pool.

Before going out, we went right under the 11 metre-deep abyssal aquarium and discovered the last exhibition, The Ocean of the Future, showing us that although the ocean provides humankind with its rich resources, it’s nevertheless in danger. Food for thought before heading towards the Redoutable submarine.

Throughout the visit, there are touchscreens, fun experiments and games for children, to help them better understand the underwater world.

the abyssal aquarium in numbers

11 metre-deep
350 000 litres of water
1 000 Polynesian fish

The other must-see parts of La Cité de la Mer


In the footsteps of the submariners of the Redoutable

After visiting The Ocean of the Future exhibition, we explored the very first French nuclear submarine. With an audioguide, we found out all about the missions of the 135 crew members and their life on board. We walked through their living space: passageways, mess hall, engine room, control centre, crew and officers’ quarters, torpedo room, etc. A great visit for the whole family!

The submarine is not accessible to children under the age of five or to wheelchair users.

Photo, © Aymeric Picot

Relive the legend of the Titanic

We stepped into the Baggage Hall to find out all about the greatest exodus the world has ever known. Images, accounts, objects and a film about the emigrants’ journeys tell the story of European emigration to the New World.
Next, we went down a staircase made to look like you’re right next to the hull of the Titanic. We explored the first, second and third class passageways, where we saw objects raised from the wreck and scenes of life on board. After this immersive visit, there was a room all about the enquiry that followed the sinking of the Titanic.

Photo, © B Almodovar

The Great Gallery of Men and Machines

We hadn’t stopped to look at the entrance hall of the old transatlantic liner terminal on our way in, so we had a good look at the end of our visit. We saw the vessels that have enabled pioneers to explore the depths of the ocean. In total, there are 14 submarines on show, whether the actual ones or full-size replicas. The kids were thrilled by these machines and were desperate to climb aboard!

Photo, © Aymeric Picot

The Transatlantic liner terminal and the submarine Le Redoutable were elected "Favorite monument of the French 2022".

The good news came during Stéphane Bern’s show on France 3: a consecration for these two Norman maritime heritages. And a great gift for the 20th anniversary of La Cité de la Mer..

We all really loved this family day out! There’s a lot to see and it’s great fun for children. You need a whole day to see everything at La Cité de la Mer, so we stopped for a delicious seafood lunch in the museum’s restaurant, Le Quai des Mers. We headed home with some great memories and we’ll definitely be back one day!



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