Cotentin Peninsula

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The Cotentin Peninsula juts out into the English Channel from Normandy towards England, forming part of the north-west coast of France.


It is part of the Armorican Massif and lies between the estuary of the River Vire and Mont Saint Michel Bay. It is divided into three areas: the headland of La Hague, the Cotentin Pass, and the valley of the River Saire (Val-de-Saire).

It forms the bulk of the département of Manche.

The largest town in the peninsula is Cherbourg on the north coast, a major cross-channel port.

Other towns of note: Coutances, Barfleur, Saint-Lô, Bricquebec, Granville, Barneville-Carteret, Carentan, Avranches.

The western coast of the peninsula, known as la Côte des Îles (the coast of the islands) faces the Channel Islands and ferry links serve Carteret, Granville and the islands (including Chausey).


The town known today as Coutances, capital of the Unelli, a Gaulish tribe, acquired the name of Constantia in 298 during the reign of Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus. The whole peninsula, called in Latin the pagus Constantinus subsequently became known as the Cotentin.

Until the construction of modern roads, the peninsula was almost inaccessible in winter due to the band of marshland cutting off the higher ground of the promontory itself. this explains occasional historical references to the Cotentin as an island.

The town of Valognes was, until the French Revolution, a provincial social resort for the aristocracy, nicknamed the Versailles of Normandy. Little remains of the grand houses and châteaux as a result of the destruction of the Battle of Normandy. The social scene was described in the novels of Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly (himself from the Cotentin).

The Battle of La Hougue took place in 1692 at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue near Barfleur.

At Flamanville at Cap de La Hague, there is a treatment plant for nuclear waste operated by COGEMA since 1984.


Due to its comparative isolation, the peninsula is one of the remaining strongholds of the Norman language. The Norman language poet Côtis-Capel described the environment of the peninsula, while French language poet Jacques Prévert made his home at Omonville. The painter Jean Millet was born in the peninsula.

The Norman language writer Alfred Rossel, native of Cherbourg, composed many songs which form part of the heritage of the region. Rossel's song Sus la mé ("on the sea") is often sung as a regional patriotic fr:Péninsule du Cotentin pt:Península do Cotentin


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