Barfleur at the very north east tip of the Cotentin peninsula in the department of the Manche, is named as one of "les plus beaux villages de France". It benefits from a relatively mild climate, as the exotic plants in the town's gardens bear witness.


This little port was the favourite landing place of the Kings of England on their various trips to parts of France then under English rule, and there is also a plaque on the quayside to commemorate the fact that William the Conqueror's ship Mora, in which he set sail for England in 1066, was built here.

These days the town is rather more peaceful, except for frequent attacks by the sea - the solid squat shape of St Nicolas' church is now virtually on the beach, but in medieval times it was in the centre of the town!

Once the main port in Normandy, Barfleur still has a small fishing fleet, and a particular breed of mussels, known as "La Blonde de Barfleur" is a speciality of the port. Growing wild on a reef just outside the harbour, they have a particularly good flavour and are much better than the usual commercially farmed sort.

4 kilometres up the coast is the Point of Barfleur, with a lighthouse that at 71 metres is one of the tallest in France. The seas in this area are renowned for their fierceness, and each year at the start of July a ceremony is held in which the sea is blessed in the hope that it will be kind to local mariners.

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