If and when you’ll be traveling to Paris, you’ll see it’s a beautiful city that has a lot to offer. However, for brutal honesty and peace of mind, we have to disclose that Paris isn’t France, and that France itself is very diverse and has a lot of different landscapes, traditions, history and architecture for you to see!
That being said, we know you might not have much time during your holiday to take a whole tour of the country. However, maybe you’ll want to consider day trips: Paris is very well connected to other parts of France via trains or buses.
You have many options for day trips from Paris: you can get to the Champagne region, take some food and wine tours, go to the Atlantic coast and see the ocean… But we have a perfect proposition for you: a day trip Paris – Cherbourg!
Cherbourg is located in a northwestern region of France called Normandy, which is full of history for the country, as it was the scene of the arrival of the Allies during World War II.
However, Cherbourg has a history that dates back to more ancient history. Indeed, it was an important port during the era of the Roman Empire, playing an essential role in international trade and territorial conquests. Later, it was a strategic place during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France.
In the 20th century, as World War II took place, Cherbourg was occupied by the German armed forces. In 1944, the Allies arrived in Normandy as part of the D-Day operation. Cherbourg was a key target as one of the largest ports in Normandy. After combat, Cherbourg was liberated on June 26, 1944.
As of today, Cherbourg is still an important city, as it welcomes many ferries and cargoes from the UK, Ireland, and the Channel Islands. Many harbors of the French Atlantic coast play an important role in Europe’s international maritime trade.
Like many coastal, northern, and western French cities, Cherbourg has a maritime climate really dependent on the ocean’s mood, making it cool and rainy even during summer. Be careful of the rain, cold and wind and be sure to bring the correct clothes!
One thing you should know: Cherbourg is pretty well known in general French culture thanks to the 1964 movie “Les parapluies de Cherbourg”. It is a singing movie by Jacques Demy portraying a tragic love story between two young people in rainy Cherbourg.
Like all the regions of France, Normandy has its personal history (pretty rich) and culture, as well as its own beautiful countryside, with coastlines, beautiful beaches and charming villages. It also has beautiful historical architecture such as the Cathédrale de Rouen.
As we mentioned before, the region has played a key role in historical events, such as the Hundred Years War, the Norman Conquest of England, and WWII D-Day. If you take a tour of the region, you’ll be able to admire pieces of history, such as the Tapisserie de Bayeux, or the D-Day Memorial and Museum.
When visiting Normandy, you’ll be amazed by the food (like anywhere else in France really), notably many seafood dishes or apple-centered desserts like the Tarte Tatin. Take some time to wander around the markets and try some local gastronomy.
How can I get from Paris to Cherbourg?
From Paris to Cherbourg by car
If you want to get to Cherbourg from Paris by car, you can rent a car if you don’t have your own. Then, you’ll need to take the A13 highway on the way to Caen, then the A84 to Rennes, and finish on the N174 towards Cherbourg. This trip will tell you around 3h30 if traffic isn’t too complicated.
Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay for access to the highway and for the fuel. Then in Cherbourg, you’ll need to park in public car parks or in the street. Don’t forget that several parking spots can have a mandatory fee.
From Paris to Cherbourg by train
The fastest way to travel between Cherbourg and Paris is by train: it takes about 3 to 4 hours each way depending on the type of train you take. Leaving early in the morning, you can get to Cherbourg in time for breakfast, and have several hours to explore the city before heading back to Paris in the evening.
What is there to see?
Cherbourg has diverse attractions to offer for visitors to enjoy, including:
- the Cité de la Mer: it is a museum and aquarium focusing on the history and ecology of the Atlantic ocean. Its exhibitions explore geological history, ecology and human exploration of the ocean. Its 17-meter-deep aquarium with local marine life, a copy of the bathyscaphe Trieste, as well as a Titanic exhibition about the history of the ship and its sinking.
- A beautiful harbor: Cherbourg’s harbor is a key trade element for France, as it is located in the English Channel. It has been an essential European port for fishing and trade since Roman times. In the harbor, you can see the Quai de France, a long pier built in the 1930s, now popular for strolling and sightseeing, as well as several historic ships and boats such as the ocean liner SS Normandie.
- The Jardin Botanique de la Roche Fauconnière: it is a lovely botanical garden home to a wide variety of plants and trees from everywhere in the world. It offers a selection of gardens to explore, such as the Japanese, Mediterranean, bamboo or rock gardens, and a greenhouse with exotic plants and cactuses. It is also home to beautiful wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, fishes or frogs.
A historical place to visit
Cherbourg also has some great historic churches and monuments that display great knowledge about the region:
- the Église Sainte-Trinité that dates back to the 11th century with Roman and Gothic styles;
- the neo-gothic Basilique Sainte-Trinité;
- the Thomas-Henry museum, hosted in a 19th-century mansion, mixing art and history dating back to the Middle Ages;
- the 19th-century Fort du Roule was later used by Germans for its great views;
- the Monument Normandie-Niemen and the Jardin de la Fonderie honoring the French pilots who fought during the War.
When visiting Cherbourg, you’ll also be able to enjoy some delicious food. Cherbourg also has many restaurants cooking traditional French cuisine.
Some traveling tips
When planning a day trip from Cherbourg to Paris, take into account that it would be a long day with a lot of travel time, as the two cities are located approximately 350 km (217 miles) away from each other. You’ll have to plan ahead and wake up early!
The French cities located by the sea often get windy and rainy. They are very cold in the winter, and a little chill sometimes in summer. Don’t forget to pack appropriately and bring warm clothes! However, in summer, many people still swim in the sea, mostly in July-August, so don’t forget your sunscreen either!
Paris is the most tourist city in France: there, you’ll find people who speak English. However, outside of Paris, it’s not very common for people outside of the tourism industry to speak English: try to learn a few words of French so you can get around, and use a guide or even Google Translate to help you out.
Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! Traveling to smaller countryside cities in France is always an adventure, as it gives you a chance to connect to a more authentic side of the French culture, tradition and atmosphere. Enjoy the sights, the food and the experience!
As you can see, Cherbourg can be a great idea for a day trip from Paris if you’re planning on traveling there! Day trips are the best option for seeing a bit more of France if you have some time.
For a trip to Cherbourg, given the travel time, you can do it in one day, but the best might be to plan to spend a night there: you can find beautiful little hotels to spend a night with cottage core countryside vibes!
You can also choose other day trips from Paris, as France has endless surprises to offer its visitors. There are all kinds of destinations and themes for your day trips. You might also want to consider dedicating some days of your trip to take a little tour of the country, so you can really soak in the French atmosphere!
Remember that with Trazler, you can book your trips to and inside France as easily as possible. Trazler’s website allows you to book your accommodation, travel tickets and car rentals from the same page, while finding the best prices.
We hope you have a lovely day trip to Cherbourg and that you discover the magic of Normandy!