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Barfleur: France's Most Beautiful Village

Posted by Rodolphe Passera on May 29, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Barfleur is ranked as "The Most Beautiful Village of France." The village is currently the only one to have this label in the region of La Manche in Normandy.

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The harbor of Barfleur

( Source : http://www.barfleur.fr/ )

During the 9th century the Scandinavian Vikings settled on the northern coast of Cotentin, called "the Viking coast". The name of the village “Barfleur” comes from a North Germanic language, the “Old Norse”.


In the 11th century the Duchess Mathilde built a ship in Barfleur called the "Mora" that took her husband William, Duke of Normandy, to England in 1066. After the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066, William became King of England; he was crowned at Westminster Abbey on December 25, 1066.



William the Conqueror

(source : https://www.wikimanche.fr/Guillaume_le_Conqu%C3%A9rant)

In 1966, a monument was built at the entrance of the current port of Barfleu to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the Mora’s crossing.



(source : https://www.wikimanche.fr/Fichier:Barfleur-mora1.JPG)

Barfleur was the most important port of Normandy. It became the official port used by the dukes of Normandy and Kings of England to travel through the English kingdom.

In 1346, Edward III, King of England, landed at Saint-Vaast-La-Hougue, he destroyed the North Cotentin including Barfleur. The city of 9,000 inhabitants was burned by the English and the population was reduced to 150 inhabitants.

The village suffered several battles over the centuries and the Second World War. The town was occupied by the Germans, as was all of Normandy.

After the Normandy landings on June 6th 1944, the village was liberated on June 21st 1944 by the American soldiers on their way to the important objective: take Cherbourg.

The port of Barfleur was also used by the American soldiers to bring supplies. We can still see some markings made by the soldiers in a place of the port.



The port of Barfleur t in 1964

Barfleur is well known for the production of mussels the "Blonde of Barfleur" with an incomparable taste, a delight for gourmets, traditionally cooked with cider or cream. The mussels are fished in the sea on the north-east coast of Cotentin, between Barfleur and Grandcamp-Maisy.


The Barfleur mussels received the "Belle, Blonde et Sauvage" label in 2001. They are the best mussels, they totally grow in a natural environment, nutrient-rich waters of the English Channel, the mussels of Barfleur are more voluminous, more fleshy and more iodized than the breeding mussels.


Every year, from June to the end of October, when they reveal all their taste, between 5,000 and 9,000 tons of mussels are fished. The mussels are catched by a professional fishing fleet equipped with shellfish dredges. At each tide, the damaged mussels and those not exceeding the legal size of 40 mm are systematically released in the sea in order to protect the resource, to guarantee the quality and freshness of the product.


Subject to rigorous controls, the mussels are placed for four to six hours in sands basins, washed with sea water, sorted again and then controlled.

The mussels are sold to stores, restaurants and fishmonger stalls.

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Barfleur mussels cooked

The fishing is made with dredger at the bottom of the trawler. The dredger consist of two parts, the rake with teeth or knives and the metal or synthetic net with a regulatory mesh the trawler drags the dredges which, raking the bottom, dig up the mussels half-buried in the sand. The dredge is resurfaced using the winch, each net can carry up to 700 kg of mussels. The mussels are then dumped on the boat, the fishermen sorts them and cleans them, then the mussels are put in 15 kg or 25 kg bags. When the trawler arrive at the port, the mussels are unloaded and stored in order to sell an irreproachable product.


Trawler equipped with a dredger for mussels

(Source :https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/normandie/2013/07/31/la-blonde-de-barfleur-une-moule-au-gout-de-terroir-295827.html)


Resurface of the dredger

( Source : http://www.normandiefraicheurmer.fr/ )


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Normandy American Heroes provides custom World War II tours of Normandy and beyond. On our blog, we write about World War II, things to do in Normandy and much more.

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