Though its heyday as a transatlantic passenger port is now long gone, the sizeable town of Cherbourg, at the northern tip of the Cotentin peninsula, makes an appealing point of arrival in France. Its old town, immediately west of the quayside, is an intriguing maze of pedestrian alleys.

The tempting cluster of small shops and boutiques around place Centrale offers the chance to buy the city’s most famous product, the genuine Cherbourg umbrella, at 30 rue des Portes, while the excellent Thursday market is held on and off rue des Halles, near the majestic theatre with its belle époque facade. A pleasant stroll north leads to the Basilique de la Trinité and the former town beach, now grassed over to form the Plage Verte.

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