Overlooked by the vertiginous cathedral towers, the old town of Coutances is well worth a visit. Quesnel-Morinière Street, lined with the facades of 17th and 18th century town houses, and Saint-Pierre Street, with its picturesque tucked away courtyards, still have their narrow medieval layout.
Coutances area possesses a rich and diverse heritage, in a well-preserved natural environment. Region of history and art, guided tours of the upper parts of Coutances Cathedral and the old town are available. Literary walks, natural heritage walks and demonstrations of traditional activities, concerts, shows, and workshops for children are also on offer.
A little bit of history…
In the first century BC, Coutances was known as Cosedia, capital of the Gaulish Unelles tribe. By the 4th century AD the town’s name had changed to Constantia. In the 5th century the town became the local See and by the 13th its cathedral was under construction. From 1418 to 1449, Coutances was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War. The 15th and 16th centuries saw the development of craft industries and commerce, creating the wealth that led to the construction of the impressive townhouses on the site of the old town ramparts.
Textiles were Coutances’ principal activity up to the Second Empire, but industry had to wait until 1878 before the railway reached the town. This delay was a considerable disadvantage and the region remained largely agricultural until the end of the Second World War. The bombings of 6th and 13th June 1944 destroyed 60% of the town but Coutances was rebuilt after the war in the style of local architectural tradition and using locally produced materials.
Today, Coutances is a vibrant area town with a rich architectural and cultural heritage, as well as the internationally-famous music event Jazz sous les Pommiers.