Cherbourg-Octeville is located in France
Country France
Region Lower Normandy
Department Manche
Arrondissement Cherbourg
Intercommunality Cherbourg
Mayor Bernard Cazeneuve
Land area1 14.26 km2 (5.51 sq mi)
Population2 42,318  (1999)
 - Density 2,968 /km2 (7,690 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 50129/ 50100, 50130
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Coordinates: 49°37′59″N 1°37′00″W / 49.633°N 1.6167°W / 49.633; -1.6167

Town centre
Napoléon and Marie Louise attending the parade of the squadron in Cherbourg in 1811
Napoléon and the town centre

Cherbourg-Octeville is a city and commune in the Manche department in Normandy in north-western France.

Originally just Cherbourg, it was formed when the city absorbed Octeville on 28 February 2000, and was officially renamed Cherbourg-Octeville.

Cherbourg holds an arsenal of the French Navy.



Cherbourg-Octeville is situated at the north of the Cotentin Peninsula. It is in the Manche département (of which it is the sous-préfecture) in the Basse-Normandie région. At the time of the 1999 census the city of Cherbourg had an area of 6.91 km² (2.668 sq mi), while the city of Octeville had an area of 7.35 km² (2.838 sq mi). The amalgamated city today has an area of 14.26 km² (5.506 sq mi).


The combined population of Cherbourg and Octeville at the 1999 census was 42,318 inhabitants. (Separately, the official numbers were 25,370 for Cherbourg and 16,948 for Octeville.) The population of Cherbourg metropolitan area (the aire urbaine de Cherbourg) at the 1999 census was 117,855 inhabitants. The city is now the second largest in the Basse-Normandie region (after Caen), surpassing Alençon, which had been second before the amalgamation. Also, the city is the largest in the Manche département, although Saint-Lô is the préfecture (capital).



The Cotentin Peninsula was the first territory conquered by the Vikings and Cherbourg became a port.

During the Seven Years' War the town was briefly occupied by a British force in the Raid on Cherbourg in 1758. The British destroyed military buildings and warehouses before departing.

In the Napoleonic era the harbour was fortified to prevent British naval incursions. Underwater obstructions were sunk at intervals across the harbour entrance, and then progressively replaced with piles of masonried rubble. Works began in 1784 and were not concluded until 1850, long after Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo.

On July 31, 1909, tsar Nicholas II and French president Armand Fallières met officially in Cherbourg to reinforce the Franco-Russian Alliance. Cherbourg was the first stop of RMS Titanic after it left Southampton, England.

On 19 June 1864, the naval engagement between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama took place off Cherbourg. In November 1984, the French Navy mine hunter Circé discovered a wreck under nearly 60 m (200 ft) of water off Cherbourg. The location of the wreck (WGS84) was 49°45'147N / 001°41'708W. Captain Max Guerout later confirmed the wreck to be of the Alabama.

The Battle of Cherbourg, fought in June 1944 following the Normandy Invasion, ended with the capture of the city on 30 June.

The Norman language writers Alfred Rossel, a native of Cherbourg, composed many songs which form part of the heritage of the region. Rossel's song "Sus la mé" ("on the sea") is often sung as a regional patriotic song. The local dialect is known as Cotentinais.


La Glacerie comes from the French for glass factory. In 1655, Louis Lucas de Néhou built a glass factory which was provided for buildings like Galerie des Glaces and Château de Versailles. The factory in La Glacerie was destroyed by Allied bombardments in 1944.


Arms of Cherbourg-Octeville

The arms of Cherbourg-Octeville are blazoned :
Azure, on a fess argent between 3 bezants (Or), 3 mullets of 6 points sable.

Main sights

  • La Glacerie has a race track.
  • The Cité de la Mer is a large museum devoted to scientific and historical aspects of maritime subjects.
  • Cherbourg Basilica[1]
  • Jardin botanique de la Roche Fauconnière, a private botanical garden.
  • Le Trident theatre
  • The Musée des beaux-arts Thomas Henry has a collection of over 300 paintings, founded on the original collection of Cherbourg native, Thomas Henry.

Interesting facts

  • Cherbourg is featured in Ken Follett's popular novel The Pillars of the Earth as the hometown of Jacques Cherbourg, a Frenchman who is washed ashore in England during the European Middle Ages, only to be executed by the English authorities. In the story, Jacques has a son, Jack Jackson, who, as an adult, meets his father's family in Cherbourg while traveling in France.
  • Cherbourg is the location of the film "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", where Madame Emery and her 17-year-old daughter Geneviève (Catherine Deneuve) sell umbrellas at their tiny boutique.

Public transport and infrastructure


Cherbourg is at the end of the N13 road from Paris and Caen.


City buses are run by Zephir.


French General Charles de Gaulle delivering a speech in liberated Cherbourg from the Hôtel de ville (townhall).

The city's station is at the end of a railway line built by the Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest from Paris. Regular services operate to Paris-Saint-Lazare via Caen using Corail Intercites stock, local TER services operate from the station to Lisieux via Caen and to Rennes via Saint-Lô. As well as a main line station there was also the Gare Maritime Transatlantique station. This now forms part of the Cité de la mer.


Cherbourg-Octeville is a port on the English Channel with a number of regular passenger and freight ferry services operating from the large modern ferry terminal and has a major artificial harbour. The following operators currently run services from the port:

Cherbourg-Octeville has previously had services operated by the following operators:

  • Stena Line to Southampton (up to 2 sailings daily). Withdrawn in 1996.
  • P&O Ferries to Portsmouth (up to 2 sailings daily by conventional ferry and up to 3 by fast ferry during the summer). Withdrawn in 2005 following a business review.
  • P&O Irish Sea to Rosslare (up to 3 sailings weekly) and Dublin (weekends only during the summer). Dublin service withdrawn in 2004 and Rosslare service sold top Celtic Link.
  • HD Ferries to Guernsey and Jersey. Operated in 2007 but cancelled in 2008 due to lack of customers.

It should be mentioned that Brittany Ferries to Poole briefly stopped their conventional ferry service in early 2010 but resumed it in February 2011; the seasonal catermaran service continues to run, as does the freight service to the Dorset port. Brittany Ferries have introduced more frequent services from Portsmouth to Cherbourg-Octeville with their latest acquisition, "Cap Finistère" (ex- "Superfast V").

In addition to ferry services, the port also handles cruise ships at the Gare Maritime Transatlantique on the Quai de France next to the Cité de la mer and conventional cargo ships in the eastern area of the docks on the Quai des Flamands and Quai des Mielles.


The nearest airport is in Maupertus-sur-Mer which is named Cherbourg Maupertus.

Twin towns

See also


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cherbourg Octeville — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cherbourg (homonymie). Cherbourg Octeville Vue aérienne de l’agglomération cherbourgeoise en mai 2006 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cherbourg-Octeville — Cherbourg Octeville …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cherbourg-Octeville — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Cherbourg (homonymie). 49° 38′ 33″ N 1° 37′ 31″ W …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cherbourg-Octeville — Original name in latin Cherbourg Octeville Name in other language CER, Cherbourg, Cherburgo Octeville, Coriallum, Gorad Shehrbur Aktehvil , Kiaeresburh, Kiresburh, Sermpour, Sherbur Oktevil , Sherbur Oktvil , Tchidbouo, cerpork aktvil, sairbura,… …   Cities with a population over 1000 database

  • Cherbourg-Octeville (Arrondissement) — Arrondissement Cherbourg Octeville Staat Frankreich Region Basse Normandie Département Manche Unterpräfektur Cherbourg Octeville Einwohner – insgesamt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Canton de Cherbourg-Octeville-Sud-Ouest — Canton de Cherbourg Sud Ouest Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Arrondissement Cherbourg Octeville …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Canton de Cherbourg-Octeville-Nord-Ouest — Canton de Cherbourg Nord Ouest Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Arrondissement Cherbourg Octeville …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Canton de Cherbourg-Octeville-Sud-Est — Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Arrondissement Cherbourg Octeville …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Arrondissement De Cherbourg-Octeville — Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Chef lieu Cherbou …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Arrondissement de Cherbourg-Octeville — Administration Pays France Région Basse Normandie Département Manche Chef lieu Cherbou …   Wikipédia en Français

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