Coutances Cathedral

Discover the cathedral and visit other must-see buildings
Photo, © Xavier Lachenaud

An architectural and historical gem, don’t miss Coutances Cathedral during your stay in La Manche. Along with Mont-Saint-Michel, the cathedral is one of Normandy’s treasures of Gothic art. Whether you just fancy a look around or you love historical buildings, let the cathedral’s old stones tell their story during an individual visit or a guided tour. If you choose the second option, prepare for a fascinating journey into the secrets of the cathedral.

Are you looking for more places where you can take a step back in time? La Manche has many other churches and abbeys for you to discover. See our selection.

Coutances Cathedral,
Gothic art in the Manche

A blend of two architectural styles


Right in the centre of Coutances, you can’t miss the majestic cathedral with its blend of architectural styles that makes it so unique.

Although the cathedral was originally built in the Romanesque style, it was rebuilt in the early 13th century and became predominantly Gothic. If you take a guided tour of the upper galleries, you’ll see traces of these different styles along with the Romanesque structure of the cathedral.

Photo, © Xavier Lachenaud

Coutances Cathedral:
a majestic monument 

Look up and admire the soaring twin towers of Coutances Cathedral, topped with stone arrows that overlook the town. You’ll be impressed by the sheer size of the cathedral, but also by its incredible level of detail. Take time to appreciate its magnificent façade with a wealth of artistic elements.

Visit with a guide

from the Pays d’Art et d’Histoire du Coutançais association

Take a trip up to the top of Coutances Cathedral to see it in all its glory! An expert local guide will take you on an immersive tour of the upper galleries, where you’ll have a fantastic view down into the cathedral. You’ll see this beautiful building in a new light, with a fresh perspective on its structure and a bird’s eye view of the choir.

Find out about the mysteries of the cathedral and the secrets of its construction on a guided tour full of surprises. You’ll discover the roof structure, the galleries, the towers and of course the incredible lantern tower.


Photo, © Xavier Lachenaud


audio tour

Do you want to enjoy Coutances Cathedral at your own pace? Dive into the history of this religious building with an audioguide provided by the Tourist Office in Coutances. The tour takes around half an hour and is available all day. Listen out for the story of the cathedral, its architecture, the different stages of its construction and its historical evolution. You’ll find out everything you want to know on this 11-step tour.

Available in English and French, you can rent the audioguide all year round from the Tourist Office in Coutances, or directly from the welcome desk at the cathedral in summer. This self-guided tour costs 3 euros.

Which abbeys and churches
to visit in La Manche?


Mont Saint-Michel Abbey

Le Mont-Saint-Michel

We can’t talk about religious monuments in La Manche without mentioning Mont Saint-Michel Abbey. This masterpiece of Norman Gothic art has withstood the centuries since its foundation by Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, in the 8th century. The abbey was built in successive stages over different periods, and boasts an impressive diversity of architectural styles.

You can visit more than 20 different parts of the abbey, including the guest hall, the scriptorium, the cloister and the abbey church. Journey through the different levels and imagine the lives of the Benedictine monks long ago. Take in the atmosphere of this totally unique place in the world, with its breathtaking views across the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel.

All year round, different cultural events and visits are organised in this unmissable part of Mont Saint-Michel.


Photo, © David Daguier - CD50

Cerisy-la-Forêt Abbey


Not far from the forest of Cerisy-la-Forêt stands Saint-Vigor Abbey, a real gem of Romanesque art in a pretty location. Step inside and admire the way the soft light bathes the abbey’s white stones. The surroundings of the Abbey are also worth a look. Head down to the monks’ stew pond, where you can take a relaxing stroll in a lovely setting.

Throughout the year, the Association of Friends of Cerisy-la-Forêt Abbey organises cultural events, including conferences, exhibitions and concerts.

Cerisy-la-Forêt Abbey

Photo, © Xavier Lachenaud

La Lucerne d’Outremer Abbey

La Lucerne-d'Outremer

A protected historic monument, La Lucerne d’Outremer Abbey is an important example of anglo-Norman architecture in La Manche. Combining the Romanesque and Gothic styles, the abbey nestles in five acres of lovely greenery on the edge of aforest, in the heart of the Thar valley.

To find out all about La Lucerne d’Outremer Abbey, you can take a tour with an expert guide. To get a better feel for the heritage and the history of the place, why not try your hand at a family craft experience in summer? Roll up your sleeves and have fun with the kids at a building or stonemasonry workshop.


Photo, © Abbaye de la Lucerne d'Outremer

Hambye Abbey


Situated between Coutances and Villedieu-les-Poêles, Hambye Abbey is one of the top religious monuments in the Manche. Built between the 12th and 13th centuries, the abbey nestles in a lovely bucolic setting in a protected natural area. Come and explore this medieval monastery with its old world charm tucked away in the pretty Sienne valley.

You can visit Hambye Abbey with or without a guide. Enjoy the ruins of the abbey church from the footpaths around it. If you choose a guided tour, you’ll be given a tablet showing you in 3D how the abbey looked in its day. Different activities and exhibitions are also organised here throughout the year.

Hambye Abbey

photo, © David Daguier - CD50

Sainte Trinité Abbey in Lessay


Head to the Côte des Havres to see Lessay’s Sainte Trinité Abbey, a pearl of Romanesque architecture. Standing at 44 m high, Lessay Abbey is world famous for its rib vaulting.

Feel free to go inside for a self-guided visit. Follow the information panels as you look around the monument. Or take a guided tour if you’d like to see the parts that are not open to the public, such as the gardens and the cloister.

L'abbaye de Lessay

Photo, © Abbayes de Normandie

Les heures musicales de Lessay

Every summer, a festival of Baroque music, Les Heures Musicales de l’Abbaye de Lessay, is held at the abbey church.

Les heures musicales de Lessay

Why not visit the abbeys of the Manche in autumn?

In autumn, you can visit these historic monuments against a backdrop of orange and gold. Enjoy the stunning contrast between the old stones of the buildings and the warm colours of the autumn leaves. If the weather is grey, the cloudy skies will add a touch of drama to your visit!

See all our suggestions on how to enjoy La Manche in autumn

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