A land of green farmland, rugged coastline, spectacular cliffs and quiet beaches, La Hague is best discovered on foot. A great place for hiking and water sports of all kinds.
Many places around the world claim to be or are nicknamed “the end of the earth”. In France no one deserves this title more than La Hague. This tiny strip of land located at the northwest end of the Cotentin peninsula and facing the Channel is indeed almost completely surrounded by the Ocean. The place is so wild and isolated that the Celts turned it into a natural fortress simply by building an earth rampart, the Hague Dick, at its narrowest point. Hence its present name.
[ Practical ]
- By road
355 km from Paris to Cherbourg on autoroutes A14 and A13 till Caen, then on N13 till Cherbourg.
- By train
Corail train from Paris Saint Lazare to Cherbourg. The journey takes about 3 hours.
- By boat
Ferries from Poole, Portsmouth and Rosslare to Cherbourg.
It is necessary to have a car.
La Fossardière, in Omonville
L’Erguillère, in Saint-Germain-des-Vaux
Hôtel Bel-Air, in Flamainville
Hôtel du Cap, in Auderville
Le Landemer, in Urville-Nacqueville
- Bed and Breakfast
Logis de la Mare du Parc
Mme Corinne Barjettas
La Malle aux Epices, in Auderville
Auberge de Goury
Auberge des Grottes, in Jobourg
Le Moulin à Vent, in Saint-Germain-des-Vaux
Café du Port, in Omonville
La Hague Tourist Office
Tel : 0233527494
Many signposted footpaths
Nowadays, La Hague refers to an area about 30 km long stretching from Cherbourg to the cape bearing its name. There is no point hiding it, it’s there that stands Areva’s nuclear fuel recycling plant. But this shouldn’t dissuade you from spending a few days there because landscapes are both superb and varied and the area offers a wide choice of outdoor activities. Moreover, due to the rugged relief of the peninsula, the Areva plant is not too often visible.
Hiking is the best way to discover the many facets of the region as there are 500 km of signposted footpaths. Some criss-cross the hinterland, a patchwork of pocket-sized meadows surrounded by stone walls or hedges where dairy cows and sheep graze peacefully with here and there deep glens where are nested manors and hamlets. Others allow you to discover the wild and dramatic beauty of the coastline battered by wind and often skirted by heather moorland with patches of fern and gorse where you can occasionally spot wild goats.
The best known is the Sentier des Douaniers, the GR223, about 80 km long, that goes all around the peninsula passing by spectacular pink granite cliffs, coves, jagged capes, breathtaking viewpoints, WWII bunkers that were part of the Atlantic Wall and quiet beaches. With the help of a guide, you can even explore caves that are sometimes only accessible at low tides and almost invisible for outsiders where smugglers once hide their goods. During the 17th and 18th centuries, most of the population was engaged in this activity, clergymen included, and wreckers even lured ships onto treacherous rocks of the coastline.
Consisting of128 m high cliffs and surrounded by shallows reefs, the Nez de Jobourg is one of the most impressive sights and from there you can easily see the Channel Islands, the nearest one, Aubigny, being only 15 km away. It’s also an ornithological reserve and so a good place to observe different species of sea birds.
Cape of La Hague © T.Joly
The Cape of La Hague is equally spectacular and dramatic with a shore made up of sharp edged rocks, a lighthouse facing raging waves and a huge cross commemorating the sinking of the Vendemiaire submarine in 1912. Nearby, the picturesque Goury harbour provides shelter to sailors when a storm catch them by surprise in the Raz Blanchard, one of the strongest tidal currents in the world. On the West coast, they can also moor in the tiny Port Racine considered to be one of France’s smallest harbour. In addition, the path is sprinkled with beaches, in the beautiful Ecalgrain Bay, in the Anse Saint Martin, at Urvelli-Nacqueville, at the feet of the Landemer cliffs, and in the Anse de Vauville where the ribbon of sand stretches for 11 km !!! The latter runs alongside a wetland home to many birds and batrachians, the Mare de Vauville, as well as alongside the dunes of Biville which are among the oldest and highest in Europe. From the top, the view stretches from the Nez de Jobourg to the cliff of Flamainville cape and Port Delette from where leave the ferries serving Guernesey and Aubigny.
Mountain biking and horse riding
Anse de Vauville © T.Joly
The village of Vauville is also worth a visit for its 17th century castle that boasts a 4 ha botanic garden containing nearly 1 000 plants species from all over the world, in particular from the Southern hemisphere, such as eucalyptus, bamboos, azaleas, rhododendrons and palm trees. Thanks to the Gulf Stream passing off the coast, La Hague indeed enjoys a milder climate than one can imagine and if rainfalls are quite frequent, they usually don’t last long as the wind quickly blows the clouds away. And while waiting for the sky to clear up, you can supplement your hike with a stop at a farm producing cider and calvados or with a cultural break at the Ludiver planetarium, devoted to astronomy and space conquest, at the birthplace of painter Jean François Millet or at the house where poet Jacques Prévert spent his last years.
Mountain biking is another way to explore these landscapes and several equestrian centres offer horse rides inland as well as on the coast.
Large choice of water sports
At Vauville airstrip, you can even opt for gliding, hang-gliding, paragliding or microlight tours and get a stunning bird’s-eye view of La Hague. But, considering its geographical location, the area is above all a haven for water and wind sports. Siouville beach is a renowned surfing location. Several sailing clubs and schools offers catamaran, dinghy, sailboat, paddleboard and windsurfing introduction sessions, tours and rentals. Shore and boat fishing are very good. There are excellent dives sites within a short distance from the coast including wreck sites. Long windy beaches provide perfect condition for kite surfing and sand yachting. And if you like speed sports, La Hague also boasts one of France’s best karting circuits. Located near the village of Greville and 950 long, it has been constructed on a hill slope and comprises some technical corners.
August 03, 2011