If you’re coming to La Manche region of Normandy, I can highly recommend a day out in Coutances. It’s only 20 minutes away from the gite so it’s somewhere I go fairly often but it doesn’t fail to disappoint.
The imposing cathedral dominates the skyline as you drive in to the town. And close up, it’s even more spectacular with its fancy Gothic architecture. There are guided visits available to the upper parts of the cathedral. They get booked up very quickly – and with good reason. You visit unseen corridors, stand inside the lantern tower, get up close and personal with the stained glass windows and have a bird’s eye view of the cathedral below. Even if the tours are full you can still visit the cathedral; either wander round freely or purchase an audio guide from the tourist office.
The Public Garden
Nearby is the public garden which is a delightful mix of French and English style landscaping. There is a cider and tea bar at the entrance to the gardens. Les Pipelettes is quirky in terms of decor and offers a friendly welcome as well as a wide range of teas.
The main street is lined with small independent shops. If you’re looking for a gift or want to buy some traditional Normandy food, head to La Boutique Normandy. It’s between the cathedral and the Saint Pierre church. This épicerie sells a selection of high quality savoury and sweet treats. Prepare to be tempted by olive oils, flavoured vinegars, chocolates, jams and biscuits. For the best Paris Brest (a choux pastry filled with praline cream) head to the pâtisserie Au Chant du Pain. It’s a little off the main shopping area but worth it.
Coutances is also a collector’s dream. If you love browsing round antique shops, then La Clé des Temps will really appeal. Authentically French, it sells mainly furniture and household items but also records and paintings. It’s open every day although on Sundays only in the afternoon. You can visit their website for more information.
So, a cathedral, cider, cakes, collectibles and much more can be found in Coutances. What a great day out. Come and visit!
For more information. please see Coutances Tourist Office website.