Updated on 15 December 2020
Reading time: 3 minutes
Recently voted ‘France’s favourite Village’, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is a real hidden gem on the Cotentin peninsula.
So much more than a seaside village
Just a 30-minute drive from the port of Cherbourg, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is a picturesque fishing and sailing village located in the Val de Saire at the north-east tip of the Cotentin peninsula. The village is famed for its oysters and, at low tide, the oyster beds provide a link between the mainland and Tatihou Island. Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is also home to the Vauban de la Hougue tower, which stands at the entrance of the small harbour and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with its sister tower on the island opposite. With 700 berths, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue’s marina is one of Normandy’s largest.
A FISHING AND YACHTING harbour
The third largest fishing port on the English Channel, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is also a renowned centre for oyster farming. Hiking enthusiasts will find beautiful hiking paths between the bocage and the fabulous Chemin des Douaniers (‘customs officers’) path, which stretches from Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue to Anse de Brick to the west. Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is a very popular meeting place for yachtsmen, and hosts many regattas.
Voted FRANCE’S FAVOURITE VILLAGE 2019
Each year, viewers of the Village Préféré des Français TV programme are asked to vote for their favourite French village out of a selection of 14 contenders. Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue proudly represented Normandy in 2019 and won the title! With its narrow streets, great restaurants and shops, relaxed atmosphere, UNESCO-listed Vauban towers and very own Tatihou Island, Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue is a seaside village unlike any other.
Don’t miss a visit to the Tower of la Hougue, built in 1694, which is home to many gannets and other cormorants. Taste the famous oysters of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and visit the the oyster beds. Foodies will also love the Maison Gosselin, a veritable treasure trove daring back to 1889 that sells everything from Normandy delicacies to home appliances and souvenirs.
TATIHOU island, a little paradise
Located just opposite the port of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, Tatihou is a small island which you can reach by a quirky amphibious craft, although it is also possible to walk there over the local oyster beds at low tide. It is home to a maritime museum, beautiful botanical gardens, a bird reserve and a couple of cafes too. Every August, the island plays host to a folk music festival called Les Traversées Tatihou.
Please note there are no rubbish bins on Tatihou Island, therefore all visitors must take their rubbish home with them.
- A visit to the Maritime Museum to discover archaeological collections on the wrecks of the royal fleet, sunk during the Battle of La Hougue in 1692. The museum has an exhibit dedicated to the island, how it came to be and its fauna and flora
- A stroll in the Tatihou gardens to discover a variety of plants including endemic ones constantly facing the sea breeze. Some are now protected between dikes and low walls
- A climb up the Vauban Tower: 20m in diameter and 21m high, it offers a magnificent view of the island and the coast. Like its twin tower in Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue on the mainland, it is UNESCO-listed
- The summer folk festival Les Traversées Tatihou
- A drink or some lunch at one of Normandy’s best beach bars, Goëland 1951, opposite Tatihou.