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Cherbourg, France

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

9th March, 2015

We came alongside the ‘Quay de France’, the old terminal for the transatlantic liners, completed in the art deco style during the early 1930’s. The old building, looking somewhat dated, still appeared in reasonable condition, although the large grey painted gangways that took passengers directly from their ship into the upper level of the terminal were looking somewhat rusty and have, I was told, finally been condemned. I remember using them in the early 80’s when QE2 used the berth on her regular Atlantic run, but now the terminal is partly a museum.

A grey rather chilly day, but the tours went off on time and a shuttle bus took folks the half mile or so into town. My wife and I joined the afternoon tour to Val de Saire, a pleasant drive east along the coast, passing an amazing lighthouse on the Point De Barfleur, 72 meters high and visible for 24 miles (my navigator confirmed that because he said it was flashing at him throughout the overnight passage). The old granite houses and narrow streets of Barfleur were described as being ‘calm and peaceful’. The church near the pier was charming, with some lovely stained glass and two quaint, but very narrow circular iron and well-worn wood staircases up to the organ loft.

Saint-Vasast la Hougue, apparently famous for a battle in 1692, is now better known for its oyster beds, thousands of which cover the foreshore. Here there were fishermen working, tending their beds, and looking at us as though we had stepped from a spaceship. This quiet backwater of France has a population that is multiplied by five during the summer months, but in the winter is peaceful. We slipped out of the port as the jazz night was getting into full swing in the Drawing Room above the Bridge. Not often you need headphones in order to concentrate during the manoeuvring.

Captain Philip Rentell

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