Discover the charming seaside village of Barfleur in Normandy (Cotentin Peninsula) and its neighbor, the Gatteville lighthouse.
We recommend visiting the area to enjoy the quiet nature and the changing colors.
Here is our guide to help you plan your visit: guide, Best things to do in Barfleur, tips, photos…
Why visit the village of Barfleur in Normandy?
Is Barfleur worth a visit?
Barfleur is one of those charming little seaside villages where things seem to be quiet, one of the most beautiful in Normandy.
Labelled as one of the “Most beautiful villages of France”, the village offers :
- A small fishing port in the center of the villages – in the Middle Ages it was an important port
- The unique architecture of the church
- The picturesque streets with the flint houses
- The great lighthouse of Gatteville and the rocky coast that surrounds it
In the picture below, you can see the entrance to the harbor, the church and the lighthouse at the back:
Video – virtual visit
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what a visit to the area can be like:
Best things to do in Barfleur ?
We will detail later our visit of the village and the places to see, with photos, but here are our top 5, to give you an idea already:
- Walk around the small port
- Visit the intriguing church with its square tower
- Eating mussels
- Stroll through the streets of the village
- Go and see the Gatteville lighthouse
Tips and Map: Barfleur, Normandy
How to get to Barfleur
- Located in the department of Manche in Normandy
- East coast of the Cotentin Peninsula
- The nearest large city is Cherbourg
- From Cherbourg to Barfleur = 30 min drive
- From Caen to Barfleur = 1h30 drive
- Here is a map to help you locate the village:
Need to rent a car in Normandy?
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- Choose a compact car (some city streets are narrow).
- Think of thefull insurance (some winding passages in the old villages and tight parking in the big cities).
- There is a lot of demand, book it early.
Voir nos conseils
Tips for visiting
- I recommend visiting at low tide and at high tide because the views will change dramatically
- Wear comfortable shoes to explore the beaches around the lighthouse, they are rocky
- Please note that you are by the sea, and that the odors at low tide can be annoying for some people
- The region is famous for its mussels – you can taste them in most restaurants
- You can find some accommodation in Barfleur and the surrounding area – you can even stay in old fishermen’s houses – See options on Booking
- You can also find other accommodations in Saint-Vaast-La-Hougue which is the gateway to the island of Tatihou, a Unesco site – see the top rated accommodations in Saint-Vaast
- If you’re looking for a larger city to stay in, then head to Cherbourg – see the top rated accommodations in Cherbourg
Views on the village
I think the best part of Barfleur is admiring the church and the surrounding houses from the other side of the harbor.
The contrast with the water and the roofline… it’s lovely.
Check out this view:
And here’s another view of the inner end of the harbor:
The views will change dramatically between low and high tide…
Plan your trip to Normandy!
→ Inspiration destinations
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Where to stay in Normandy – best places and hotels
See our tips for renting a car at CDG airport, Orly airport, Beauvais airport, Caen, Rouen, Bayeux…
Saint Nicolas Church
The most famous building in the village is the church.
France has many old churches. But I must admit that this one surprised me. It has a very unique architecture.
Her name is Saint-Nicolas. The present church was built between the 17th and 19th centuries (it has already been destroyed twice).
It is located at the end of the village, at the seaside, with the cemetery.
As you can see on the picture above, it has a variety of roof shapes: classic triangular, square tower, dome, angular… There is no boring angle to look at it.
But what I find most surprising is the square tower. Thanks to it, the church looks like a small castle. One of the most charming churches in Normandy.
Don’t forget to take a look inside, there is a coin box to turn on the lights.
The stained glass windows are from the end of the 19th century.
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What to do in Barfleur: our other suggestions
The picturesque streets of the village
Take time to explore the village. It is not large and will not take much time.
You won’t find the half-timbered houses that Normandy is famous for. It is a more typical old seaside village, with sturdy but picturesque granite houses.
It is enough to go for a walk without a purpose. Take the side streets and you’ll find little gems.
For example, next to the church is “La coche des amoureux”, a small narrow street that connects to the nearby bay.
The port of Barfleur
Barfleur was the most important port in Normandy because it was used by the Dukes of Normandy and the Kings of England to cross the English Channel.
However, this once bustling city was destroyed by Edward III in the 14th century. After that, it remained a smaller village.
It was also a strategic location during World War II: Occupied by the Germans and then used by the Americans to bring supplies.
Today, it is mainly a leisure and fishing port. You can walk around and watch the fishermen bring in the catch of the day.
The mussels of Barfleur
The village is also famous for its production of mussels called “Blonde de Barfleur”. What makes them so special?
- They are very tasty
- They have a lot of flesh compared to farmed mussels
- They grow in a natural environment and are caught
The season extends from June to the end of October. They are normally served with cider or cream
Note that it is a wild species. Therefore, there is no guarantee that restaurants will serve them.
However, they will always serve mussels (farmed if others are not available) cooked in the Norman way. Always delicious!
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The Gatteville lighthouse
Do not visit Barfleur without visiting the Gatteville lighthouse.
It’s only a 5 minute drive or a short bike ride.
You will arrive in the small village of Gatteville-le-Phare with another interesting church to see:
And then you discover the coast of the tip of Barfleur and its lighthouse, one of the architectural interests of Normandy.
The area is so flat that it really stands out. We found it very pleasant to photograph, especially with the rocks surrounding it.
Some info on the lighthouse:
- It is active
- 71 meters high – one of the highest traditional lighthouses in the world
- It is cylindrical with a U-shaped building at the base
- The first lighthouse (25 m high) was built in the eighteenth century after many shipwrecks in the region
- Under normal circumstances, it is possible to climb the 365 steps to the top.
Other places of interest around Barfleur
The Cotentin Peninsula is one of the most beautiful destinations in Normandy; if you spend time in the region, I also recommend it:
- A short drive south of Barfleur and you will find the village of Saint-Vaast-La-Hougue to visit at low tide to see the impressive oyster beds – 15 min drive
- The island of Tatihou with bird watching and the Unesco listed fortifications of Vauban and the remains of the first world war – boat from Saint-Vaast (10min crossing)
- D-Day and WWII sites around Utah Beach – just south of Barfleur and Saint Vaast (40min drive)
- Cherbourg and the impressive maritime museum “Cité de la Mer” (30min drive)
- The west coast of the peninsula with beautiful cliffs and sand dunes – for example the cliffs of Nez de Jobourg (1 hour drive)
- The famous Mont-Saint-Michel which is further away and not on the peninsula, but which is one of the most famous French sites (2h drive)
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