An insider’s guide to Manche in Normandy, including the main attractions to visit on holiday, the best towns and villages to live in, and buying property in Manche.
Named after the English Channel into which it extends, Manche is the most westerly department of Normandy. The word manche in French means sleeve, and La Manche is the French name for the English Channel, which is said to be because of its sleeve-like shape.
A predominantly rural department, Manche has a few towns and a long coastline. It is also home to one of France’s most visited attractions – Mont-St-Michel.
Getting to Manche
Plane: The nearest airport to Manche is in the neighbouring department of Caen, approximately an hour’s drive away.
Places to visit in Manche
St-Lô: Coutances was the first capital of Manche and became the capital once more when St-Lô was virtually destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. Originally called Briovère (meaning ‘the bridge on the River Vire’ in Gaulish), St-Lô began as a fortified settlement, and once rebuilt, resumed its role as capital.
Barfleur: Manche is home to Barfleur, an important port in the Middle Ages which continues to be a big yachting and fishing port today. The Gatteville lighthouse stands at the tip of Barfleur and was first lit in 1775.
Beaches: Manche also boasts some 330km of coastline and has a wealth of beautiful beaches along its shores, many of which have been awarded European blue flag status.
Things to do in Manche
Mont-St-Michel: Outside of Paris, Mont-St-Michel is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in France and it was one of the first monuments to be classed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Built on a small granite top on the estuary flats of the River Couesnon, the medieval walled city is crowned by a spectacular gothic abbey.
Food: Local specialities include lots of seafood: mussels, oysters, scallops and clams. Agneau de pré-salé – salt marsh lamb fed on grass of the Mont-St-Michel bay – and terguole, a rice pudding dish baked with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Yum!
Property in Manche
If you’re looking for close proximity to the sea, Manche is a great place to start. What’s more, house prices average out at €125,000 – that’s €33,000 less than the average house price in France.
The more expensive area of Manche is Cherbourg-Octeville, a seaside city in the department. Houses here cost, on average, €140,000. If that’s slightly out of your price range, houses in Avranches are approximately €35,000 cheaper than Cherbourg-Octeville and you are still close to the sea.
If you’re looking to buy property in Manche, visit France Property Shop.
For more information about Manche, visit: http://www.manche-tourism.com/
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