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Avranches - a pretty Norman market town

Avranches, which lies at the southern end of the Cotentin Peninsula in Lower Normandy, is an attractive and ancient market town which has an appeal for tourists. Part of this appeal lies in the town's enviable location; close to the sea, at the gateway to Brittany, and close also to the beautiful beaches and monuments of Mont St Michel. But part of the appeal comes from the town's own attractive layout and intriguing history.

Avranches is a town with a turbulent history

Avranches has a turbulent history, and has been the scene of many a battle during a series of bitter conflicts. It suffered during the Wars of Religion, the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution... before finally being released from a traumatic German occupation in the second world war. Much of the town was damaged at this time, largely, sad to say, by American bombings. Part of the town's wartime history is commemorated by monuments to General Patton, the American commander who led the troops that liberated Avranches from Nazi occupation.

Sights to see in Avranches

Avranches is an attractive, if not spectacular, town, with tall, elegant buildings lining wide, clean streets. Sadly, the impressive cathedral was destroyed in the French Revolution, although you can visit the Church of St Gervais which occupies an important position today. The Botanical Gardens are also worth seeing while in the town. Not only are there some delightful and fascinating species of plants to enjoy (over 70,000 species!), but the gardens also offer fantastic views out over the sands of the spectacular Mont St Michel. It is believed that this was the scene that inspired some of the writings of the great French author, Guy de Maupassant.

Amenities on offer in Avranches

Keeping yourself occupied in Avranches is not a problem, for the town offers plenty to do and see. There are interesting museums, excellent shops and lots of restaurants and cafés of all types and to suit all pockets. The town also has all the amenities and services that you would reasonably expect, with schools, doctors, pharmacies, libraries and banks all on hand to make life easy.

Saturday is market day in Avranches

Saturday is market day, and what better opportunity could you have than to treat yourself to some of the wonderful cheeses for which the area is famed? Camembert, Pont l'Evêque, Livarot, among others, are all to be found here, as well as the delicious (though calorific) Normandy cream and the powerful Calvados apple brandy.

Sports in Avranches

If you enjoy sport, Avranches will not disappoint. The town offers many activities within its limits or nearby, and these include tennis, petanque, weight training and gymnastics, cycling, water sports and golf.

Out and about

For days out, you will find yourself spoilt for choice from a base in Avranches. There is the lovely Mont St Michel, of course, but much of both Normandy and Brittany are at your feet from here, so make the most of it and explore this wonderful part of France.

How to get there

If you want to fly, Dinard is the best airport, within an hour's travel of the town. Dinard is served by both Ryanair and Aurigny. St-Malo is also nearby, and this port is served by the excellent Brittany Ferries.

Property prices and availability in and around Avranches

In general, Normandy is cheaper than Brittany when it comes to property, but you need to remember that this particular part of Normandy is almost in the popular Ille-et-Vilaine department of Brittany, so there may be an increase in prices from some parts of the region. That said, there are bargains to be found still, so keep your eyes open and be prepared to act quickly when you find a property that interests you. At the time of writing, it is still possible to purchase a large house (situated in the country outside the town) needing partial renovation for well under 200,000 Euros, or a smaller village house in excellent repair for similar money. Be warned, however, that increasing popularity and the scarcity of affordable properties in neighbouring Brittany is pushing up prices in Normandy, so swift action is advised.

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Avranches AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Avranches?

Avranches is located in the north-west of France. It lies in the south-west of the Manche department, on the coast, very close to Brittany.

Avranches Property Map


Lower-Normandy Guide

Lower-Normandy Property Map


Manche Guide

  Manche Map

Population: 12,000

Access: By air: Fly to Dinard (Aurigny Air Services, Ryanair). By boat: St-Malo, served by Brittany Ferries, is the nearest ferry port. By train: There is a SNCF station at Avranches, and the TGV will take you to Rennes.

Economy: Tourism is the most significant single factor in the town's thriving economy.

Interesting fact: During the French Revolution, important manuscripts and artefacts from the Abbey at Mont St Michel were hidden in Avranches, where they remain (and can be seen) to this day.


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