Avranches is a historic, bayside, market town close to the celebrated sanctuary of Mont Saint Michel (the west’s most famous place of pilgrimage). It has a medieval quarter, ancient manuscripts from the Middle-Ages, beautiful architecture and numerous cafes, shops, bars and restaurants.
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Avranches is situated in the Manche department of Normandy , between the peninsulas of Cotentin and Brittany . St Malo ferryport and Dinard airport can be reached within 1h, Cherbourg ferryport within 2h.
Avranches was named after the ‘Abricantes,’ a Celtic tribe that settled there at the end of the Roman period and animated its culture. Development further continued when the Norman dukes took over in 933 and Avranches went on to enjoy considerable prosperity for three centuries, becoming known as a bishopric and intellectual centre. St Aubert, for example, one of the thousands of bishops to be known in the town, founded the Mont St Michel sanctuary and Lanfranc, the Italian monk, theologian and trusted advisor of William I, taught in Avranches, whilst carrying out important reforms and changes in the Church.
Unfortunately the wars then started: the Hundred Years War, the Wars of Religion, the French Revolution and World War II, all of which inflicted great damage on the town, until 31 st July 1944 when the town, after four years of German occupation, was liberated by George S.Patton and his American army.
Such hardships have failed at least to destroy the rich history of Avranches and today it is successful once again, preserving its treasures and entertaining its tourists impressionably.
Sights to see include: the octagonal tower of Palais Episcopal, the Mont St Michel manuscripts in the Town Hall, which illustrate the intellectual and artistic activity of the Benedictine monastery in the Norman era, the Saint Gervais church containing the famous skull of Saint-Aubert, the Notre Dames des Champs cathedral, which was constructed in the C19th in Gothic Revival style, the Municipal Museum which has examples of local art and traditions including medieval book production and Jardin des Plantes, which, with over 70,000 different types of plants and trees as well as charming views across the bay, has been a place of inspiration for writers such as Guy de Maupassant.
Popular sports are tennis, horseriding, cycling, water sports at the Canöe Club d’Avranches and golf at Baie de Mont Saint Michel. Market day, meanwhile, is every Saturday at les rues des Trois Quartiers and filled with wonderful fresh farm produce.
Food and Drink
Cheeses such as ‘Camembert,’ ‘Livarot’ and ‘Pont l’Evêque’ are local specialities, as well as Normandy cream (used in most recipes) and cider as Normandy is a major cider-producing region. ‘Calvados,’ an apple brandy is also popular and makes up the ‘Trou Normand’ (Norman break) which is a pause between meal courses in which diners drink a glassful of ‘Calvados.’ ‘Kir Normand,’ cassis topped with cider, is a good aperitif and‘Flan Normand’ is a classic, apple pastry tart.
La Renaissance, 17 rue des Fossés, tel no: 02 33 58 03 71, www.hotel-renaissance-avranches.fr
Le Hanoï, 4 rue des Chapeliers, tel no : 02 33 60 46 73
Hotel du Jardin des Plantes, 10 Place Carnot, tel no : 02 33 58 03 68, www.hotel-restaurant-avranches.com
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Normandy. We have a large network of partners in Normandy . All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouse, longere, barn, gite, B&B, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a property in Normandy matching your requirements.