This beautiful Norman town, built by the English to guard Mont-Saint-Michel, is divided into two parts.
The vielle ville stands on a rocky promontory, with beautiful granite houses with white shutters, while the lower town, said to have been built on a mountain of seashells, boasts a strong maritime vocation, a narrow beach and fashionable boutiques.
In addition, Granville has one of the largest harbours in the English Channel for shellfish fishing: this is where most of the region’s clams, whelks and scallops, the town’s flagship product, are harvested, having allowed Granville to develop for centuries.
A former cod fishing port, Granville was for a long time the first shellfish port in France, but today this town of art and history can be proud of its cultural heritage.
Granville also has an unusual architectural heritage and nooks and crannies with magnificent views, such as Pointe du Roc, from which the town inherited the nickname Monaco du Nord, as the rocky promontory resembles that of its Monegasque counterpart.
Granville is also very famous for its Carnival, one of the largest in Europe.
About 450 metres long and a hundred metres wide, the ramparts of the Upper Town of Granville are one of the city’s most fascinating sights. Granville deserves to be toured on foot, to admire its different souls: the port side of its oldest past, dating back to the Middle Ages, the epic of the corsairs and the Terre-Neuvas, true adventurers of the seas, but also its more recent history.
To discover the charm of Granville, we suggest you start from the Upper Town and the Grand Porte: follow rue des Juifs, where there are art galleries, bookshops, antique shops and other shops that lend a quiet charm to this little slope. The street owes its name to the settlement of Jewish families along what was to become the first suburb of Granville.
Continue on to its well-preserved church Notre Dame du Cap Lihou and continue along the narrow Rue Étroite, Rue des Plâtriers and Rue du Marché au Pain . When you stop at this intersection, you will see villas and old houses. They belonged to wealthy ship-owners who contributed to the growth and fame of the port of Granville. At times privateers, at times Terre-Neuvas, the sailors of Granville were for a long time valiant adventurers, who did not resign themselves to abandoning life at sea. This is why, before each fishing campaign, they held grand celebrations: hence the tradition of Carnival, still perpetuated today and recognised by Unesco.
This corner of the city boasts a bohemian chic atmosphere: you can meet artists, painters, musicians and sculptors on the café terraces or in the streets that enliven the neighbourhood with their art.
This is the place to savour the liveliest soul of the city and imagine the teeming life that took place in the Middle Ages.
Every Saturday, the streets of Granville are filled with exhibitors and the colourful stalls of traders: this is the market. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. you will find local products in the covered market and all day long in the open-air market: you will have the chance to choose the best fresh food, directly from the producer. Or taste the delicious local products such as take-away sausage pancakes.
Smiling faces, hustle and bustle, smells and colours: the Granville market is an experience not to be missed.
Whether you are a fashion lover or not matters little. This museum is worth a visit: it represents the entire history of the Dior family itself and you can admire many of Christian Dior ‘s creations such as clothes, accessories, jewellery and perfumes.
The Christian Dior Museum, once the childhood home of the famous designer, is a place of memory dedicated to the influence of Christian Dior’s life and work, from his childhood in Granville to the worldwide success of his fashion house. The villa ‘Les Rhumbs’ is located in a remarkable cliff garden overlooking the sea, facing the Channel Islands.
Since 1997, a temporary exhibition has been held there every summer, the theme of which is related to the fashion created by Christian Dior and the maison that bears his name.
Built in 1942 by the Germans, this strategic defensive site, built on either side of the Granville lighthouse, closed off access to the only port on the west coast of the Channel.
It consisted of a compact group of 25 forts, of which only a dozen remain today. Among them is the central bunker, the only one to have been restored and classified as a National Historic Heritage Site since 1996.
The Cabane de Vauban was built in the 17th century and served as a guardhouse. It is an absolutely fantastic place to watch the sunset. On one side you overlook the entire bay of Granville and on the other you have a view of Mont St Michel: not to be missed.
To get there, you can also follow the signs to the Lude Valley, hidden between two high cliffs, a wild site of great natural wealth, protected since 1973.
The walk, the GR 223, runs along the banks of a small stream, the Lude, to its mouth, amidst a scree of rocks and pebbles: the Port of Lude. During this beautiful walk, you can stop right at the Cabane Vauban, a small stone belvedere on the edge of the cliff and embrace the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel at a glance.
From the second half of the 19th century, the Impressionist movement created an upheaval in the world of painting. Artists decided to abandon their indoor workshops in search of landscapes to portray live: the unique light of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel bewitched many of them.
Carolles, a village perched on the cliffs overlooking the bay, offered them breathtaking views and soon became the refuge of many impressionist painters.
Today, it is possible to follow 2 circuits that allow you to walk around this museum of open-air paintings. A route outside the walls, between the beach, the cliffs and the painters’ valley, and the workshop route, organised in 12 stages, which punctuate a walk through the village to discover the artists’ places of residence.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
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A charming little town perched in the English Channel department: overlooking the Gulf of Saint-Malo