Worth a visit - Granville

Granville commands stunning views of the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel from its fortified headland. Enjoy this invigorating resort’s wonderful array of ports, quarters and beaches, plus its museums, one devoted to local genius Christian Dior.

Ferries from Granville serve the magical Chausey Islands archipelago, like a mirage 15km out to sea, plus the Channel Islands.

Not to be missed

> The Haute-Ville, or Upper Town: a fascinating place to walk around, with its ramparts and grand buildings, its array of museums, shops and restaurants, and, above all, its magnificent sea views.

> Musée Christian Dior : The enchanting pink Villa Les Rhumbs, on the heights just north of the centre, was the childhood home of the great French couturier Christian Dior. As well as honouring Dior, the place hosts wonderful fashion exhibitions. The garden adjoining the Dior villa is also a pleasure to discover, with its breath-taking views, as is the tearoom.

> Musée d'art et d'histoire de Granville: The collections packed into this museum cover the history and traditions of this military and fishing port which also became a thriving holiday resort from the mid-19th century.

> Musée d'art moderne Richard Anacréon: Set in a gloriously located building on the eastern tip of the Upper Town, it houses a rich collection of modern art donated by a rich collector from Granville. There is also a collection of personal objects linked to the challenging woman writer Colette.

> Aquarium marin du Roc des Harmonies: With small displays in aquaria, a sea lion and a café with grand views across the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel.

> Centre régional de nautisme : A reputed sailing school, the Centre Régional de Nautisme has branches not just in Granville, but also on Chausey and at Jullouville south along the coast. All three offer exceptional surrounds for learning sailing and watersports.

> Granville Carnival, the biggest Carnival in Normandy (website in French): The story goes that it was sailors from Granville who began the tradition of having a wild celebration for Mardi Gras to lighten their mood before setting off on long transatlantic fishing voyages to Newfoundland. The locals love celebrating what is the biggest carnival in Normandy. It is renowned for its street parades, fancy costumes, street concerts and confetti fights. In 2016, the event was added to UNESCO's Cultural Heritage list.

> Chausey Islands: Regular ferry services head to the Iles Chausey. Just visible on the horizon from Granville, these gorgeous islands are in fact administered from the mainland town. Out at this extraordinary archipelago, which grows hugely in size at low tide, only the main island is inhabited. A quarry here provided a good deal of the stone needed to build the Mont Saint-Michel’s abbey. Now fishing is the primary activity. At low tide, vast numbers of islets are uncovered, making for magical nature discoveries. Note that most of the archipelago is a protected nature reserve.


What to see and do around Granville

  • A magical island topped by a gravity-defying medieval monastery, the Mont-Saint-Michel counts among France’s most stunning sights. For centuries one of Europe’s major pilgrimage destinations, this holy mount is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is its breathtaking bay.
  • Cherbourg, one of France’s great Channel ports, is closely linked to French naval history, and to transatlantic adventures – the Titanic even made its final stop here on its fateful journey, as recalled at the Cité de la Mer, one of the port’s main tourist attractions.
  • Paratroopers rained down on this Norman village as D-Day operations began in June 1944 to liberate Europe from German occupation. Famously, American soldier John Steele was left dangling a time from the medieval church as his parachute got caught on its tower.