From the heights of its rock, the Pointe du Roc, go back in history to the time of the privateers and the terre-neuvas. Here is a foretaste of what awaits you during the discovery of the walled city of Haute-Ville, the historic heart of Granville.
Granville’s Upper Town, the historic old town
The Haute-Ville is the must-see district when you discover Granville. It concentrates many historical and cultural sites. Strolling around the ramparts and the cobbled streets of the Haute-Ville, you will discover many treasures, such as the church of Notre-Dame du Cap Lihou, the Grand Porte, the old barracks from the Napoleonic era, the old shipowners’ houses, etc. You can also admire the breathtaking views of the sea, the beaches, the port and the Chausey Islands from the many panoramic views.
Before the appearance of the Upper Town, Granville was a barren rock exposed to the sea and the spray. A few fishermen lived there but the local population was not concentrated here. It was not until 1439 and the installation of the English army on this rocky promontory that the outline of what we know today began to take shape. We owe the “English” the creation of the “Tranchée”, a vast furrow dug in the rock to make Granville impregnable to attackers when the tide rises. You can imagine that Granville became an island twice a day at each high tide!
The Granville ramparts tour
The best way to discover the history of Granville is to walk around the ramparts, occasionally branching off into the cobbled streets of the Haute-Ville.
Enter through the Grand Porte
After walking up the Rue des Juifs from the Place du Casino, you will arrive at the drawbridge called “La Grand Porte”. Above it, a plaque commemorates the siege of Granville. This is a major historical episode from the revolutionary period: in 1793, the Royalist Vendéen army was routed by the revolutionaries who took refuge behind the Granville ramparts.
The church of Notre-Dame du Cap Lihou
It took more than three centuries to complete! The first traces of this church date from the English period, around 1440. The last architectural elements date from 1770. You will discover a harmonious mix of different styles inside and out. This church is typically dedicated to the men and women of the sea. The two chapels bear witness to this with their stained glass windows and votive offerings. You will not leave the church without contemplating the magnificent stained glass windows by master glass artist Jacques Le Chevallier, created after the destruction of the old ones during the Second World War.
In the streets of a port city
Before reaching the Place de l’Isthme, you will walk along the cobbled streets of the Upper Town, from west to east, past several private mansions. These were owned by rich shipowning families. These families contributed to the growth and fame of the port of Granville. Both privateers and Newfoundlanders, alternating periods of war and peace with the enemy, the sailors of Granville did not have an easy life. With each departure, women and children were never sure of seeing their male relatives again… This is why, before each fishing campaign, Carnival was celebrated as it should be, a tradition that is still perpetuated today and recognised by Unesco.
The Isthmus Square
At the eastern end of the Upper Town, the Place de l’Isthme is divided into two parts. Firstly, a vast pedestrian square where the Richard Anacreon Museum of Modern Art is located. Then, down a few steps, you see the Tranchée aux Anglais. From this point of view, you will understand the extent of seaside tourism in Granville. Casino, hotels or former hotels, the Plat Gousset promenade, bathing cabins… This is where summer is in full swing. Don’t hesitate to take the big staircase which will allow you to reach the beach and, why not, to taste a good artisanal ice cream well deserved after your stroll.