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Barfleur Travel Guide

Barfleur is a small quaint fishing and port town located in northwestern France.[1] Anchored on the northeastern side of Cotentin, this town was the home of the famous painter Paul Signac who succumbed to its charms and beauty.[2] On stormy days, the picture of Barfleur is of the sea lashing against the Church of St. Nicholas. Strolling along the street of Sainte-Catherine, you’ll be enamored by the prettiest houses.[3] Barfleur has a true genuineness about it that makes it one of the most picturesque towns on the English Channel. Its opening towards England and Northern Europe makes it a convenient practical stopping point for small voyages at sea, especially for yachting excursions to the English Channel islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark.[4]

Barfleur is a small city that relies heavily on fishing. The Blonde of Barfleur is a mussel famously sought by many fishermen, but the town’s waters are home to delicious lobsters, shellfish, and shrimps as well.[5]

Barfleur is lined with beautiful architecture throughout the town, most of which are solid granite structures built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many of the roofs have their characteristic terra cotta tiles, elegant chimneys, and underscored by the attic “eyelid” windows. One building of cultural interest is the house of the painter, Paul Signac, on St. Nicolas Street.[6]

You should also visit the medieval court house of Saint Catherine, the gardens of Augustins, and the lighthouse of Gatteville; the latter is the second tallest lighthouse in France and offers great views of the town’s fishing boats unloading their fish.[7]

The charming community district of La Bretonne in Barfleur is another favorite of visitors. This community offers the house of Saint Marie-Madeleine Postel. Julie Postel was a key local religious figure who founded the congregation of the Sisters of Mercy[8] in 1807 and was canonized in 1926. The house is of 17th century architecture and has a large central granite staircase.[9] It is open to tourists for visits.[10]

The outskirts of Barfleur have some nice places to visit, such as the church in Montfarville. The church has some interesting decorative features. Its vaulted roof and walls are covered with Guillaume Fouace paintings, the famous artist who was born in Reville and was one of Millet’s pupils. You’ll also find the Tocqueville Castle just outside of Barfleur to its west. The castle was home to the father of liberalism, the historian and philosopher Alexis Carel de Tocqueville.[11]

The fine sandy beaches of Barfleur are also great for all kinds of water sports. The woodlands and countryside surrounding the town can be enjoyed via the beautiful scenic hiking trails. A trek along these footpaths may be the best way to embrace the different landscapes of the region.[12]

In the medieval ages, Barfleur was one of the main ports used by Europeans for departures to England. In 1066, the town’s harbor was the historic embarkation point for the Normans on their way to the Battle of Hastings. In 1692, the town was the scene of the Battles of Barfleur,[13] which decided the outcome of the War of the Grand Alliance. In one of the battles, the French took a fleet of more than 40 ships to prepare a transport of an invading army of French and Irish troops intent on restoring James II to the English throne. Unfortunately, the French fleet was rather unlucky.[14] After surprising the Anglo-Dutch armada near Cherbourg and inflicting heavy damage on the enemy, Admiral de Tourville’s ships were forced to break off from the battle. Facing strong counter-currents, many of his vessels were unable to cross the Blanchard Race and eventually pushed back by the sea all the way to Saint-Vaast Bay where the English promptly set them alight.[15] As a result, the French attempt at invading England was thwarted.[16]

“Barfleur.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barfleur>

“Barfleur, Port de Peche et de Caractere.” <http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ville-barfleur.fr%2Faccueil.html>

“Battles of Barfleur and La Hougue.” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Barfleur_and_La_Hougue>

Gaudez, René, Hervé Champollion, and Angela Moyon. Tour of Normandy. Rennes: Éditions Ouest-France, 1996. ISBN: 2737317185.

[1] Barfleur
[2] Barfleur, Port
[3] Gaudez, 26
[4] Barfleur, Port
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Gaudez, 26
[9] Barfleur, Port
[10] Gaudez, 26
[11] Id. at 27
[12] Barfleur, Port
[13] Barfleur
[14] Battles
[15] Gaudez, 27
[16] Battles

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