Here the French military architect Vauban recognised an "audacious" maritime location. From that beginning grew a site that is in complete harmony with the sea.
With its privileged position facing the Channel on the end of the Cotentin Peninsula, the former Coriovallum, Carisborc or Chierebourg grew on the banks of the Yvette river. In a verdant setting, bathing in the mildness of the Gulf Stream, Cherbourg is very much a town open to the sea. A transatlantic port of call for the world's biggest and finest liners (such as the Queen Mary II), fishing, merchant, naval and yachting port, Cherbourg is often the centre for major maritime events such as the Figaro Single-Handed Race.
From its viewpoint on the green slopes of the Cotentin peninsula, Cherbourg can admire a colossal 19th century engineering feat : the biggest artificial harbour in the world.
Cherbourg is a lively town with numerous quayside restaurants, hotels and markets.
Culture is given full rein, with the Italian theatre, art and history museums, the basilica, the château des Ravalet and of course, the Cité de la Mer, a hi-tech oceanographic centre.
For art lovers, the Thomas Henry Fine Arts Museum boasts a good collection of works by local artist Millet, and for visitors on the Second World War trail, there is a museum dedicated to the Liberation.