Monday, 12 March 2007

FRANCE - The Western Cherbourg Peninsular

Another day trip to France, this time on the P&O fast-cat from Portsmouth to Cherbourg. Having seen a lot of the Bay of Seine, we decided that we would spend a good portion of the day exploring the west coast of the Cherbourg Peninsular. Our first stop, not far outside of Cherbourg – Octeville, was the 10th century church St Germain. The church is set in a clearing on the side of a hill and provided a good panorama of Cherbourg and the port. Continuing west, we followed the rugged coast line, not dissimilar to Jurassic Coast in Dorset. We stopped several times to admire small bays and fishing ports. One of these was Port Racine, the smallest fishing harbour in France. It was so small that it could hold no more than a dozen open fishing boats.

We continued to the north western corner of the peninsular, Cap de la Hague, where the turbulent waters race around the corner towards Alderney, visible only a few miles away. The light house, on a rock outcrop a few hundred yards off-shore seemed very isolated amongst the turbulence. The life boat station situated here is certainly to have seen much service, given the rocky shores and fierceness of the tides.

Driving south, we followed the steep cliffs, with sandy bays below. We stopped for coffee, looking out across the sea toward Alderney and watched fishing boats at the foot of the cliff, tending to lobster pots. Further south, we stopped at a long sandy beach, protecting a large area of sand dunes from the sea. The beach, similar to the D-Day beaches in the Bay of Seine, was only blighted by a nuclear waste treatment plant, situated on a hill overlooking the stretch of sand.

The trip was completed with an obligatory supermarket stop before returning to Portsmouth on the early evening ferry.

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