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Avranches and Coutances


From the top of its granite hill, Avranches overlooks Mont Saint-Michel and its Bay.
Rich of a tumultuous past, the city of Avranches has an important civil heritage: keep, ramparts, Grand Doyenne, …
Former bishopric, it also holds a remarkable religious heritage.

The Saint Gervais Basilica

Built in the seventeenth century, it has undergone many renovations in the nineteenth century; e.g. in 2010, a major restoration campaign.

The building is listed in the supplementary inventory of Historic Monuments since 2006.

The Notre-Dame-des-Champs Church

In neo-Gothic style, its construction and enlargements spread between the nineteenth and twentieth century; 2 towers and 2 great organs also saw the light.

The Treasury

A series of religious objects are kept in a church room, “the treasure of St. Gervais Basilica”.
The French Revolution and the separation of Church and State in 1904 led to the confiscation and destruction of parish wealth. In Avranches, the local clergy led by Fr. Cornille, created a parish museum and gathered there over the years many religious objects. The centerpiece of this treasure is the skull of Bishop Aubert bearing the mark of the finger of the Archangel Saint Michel.
This reliquary attracts many visitors each year.

The Saint-Saturnin Church

According to some historians, it would be the oldest religious building in Avranches. Of modest dimensions, enlargement works were started in the middle of the 19th century; the parish council affirmed that: “on market days the church was crowded”.

Avranches is since the Revolution the depository of the Manuscripts of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, which are exposed at the Scriptorial – Museum of Manuscripts of Mont Saint-Michel.

Coutances is an old historical capital, also an episcopal one. Its cathedral is a masterpiece of Norman Gothic. With her, a string of buildings bears witness to the seal of religion on local identity. It is good to walk there. Everyone should make their way between shops, grocery stores and public gardens, cathedrals, mansions, etc.

The Public Garden and the Quesnel Morinière Museum

Jean-Jacques Quesnel of La Morinière bequeaths his mansion surrounded by his garden to the town of Coutances on the condition that the whole will remain of public utility and that the gardens become a municipal park where medicinal plants can be grown.

The public garden combines Italian terraces with English groves, water jets and a labyrinth. A granite obelisk was erected in memory of the donor Quesnel de La Morinière. Development work on three levels was completed in 1855; the garden became a precursor and a model of the gardens of the nineteenth century, while being contemporary with the first landscaped gardens in Paris. It is also the oldest public garden in Normandy. The Coutances garden was included in the supplementary inventory of Historic Monuments in 1992 . The mansion houses the collections of the municipal museum Quesnel Morinière.

Coutorial catedral

Magnificent expression of Norman Gothic art, Coutances Cathedral was built in the early 13th century, the current building reuses important parts of the 11th century Romanesque cathedral. Its remains are still visible under the “Gothic habit”, and are accompanied by guides who will take you to the high galleries of the nave and choir, in the lantern tower, near the Gothic windows or to inside the Romanesque towers.

Jazz under the apple trees

We can not talk about Coutances without mentioning its famous jazz festival! For more than 30 years, the Jazz under the apple trees festival has thrilled the city every week around the ascent. Today, it is a festival of international renown that welcomes famous jazz musicians but also many blues artists, electro, worldmusic … Jazz under the apple trees, it also happens on the street with many free shows and a stage ” advice to the amateurs “.