Cherbourg (Normandy), France
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In the 20th century, Cherbourg’s biggest claim to fame was perhaps that it had been a vital port during the Allied forces’ D-Day invasion, which landed to the southeast and traveled overland to capture the well-defended city from the Germans. However, in recent years, Cherbourg has undergone a revitalization that makes it a great place to sample local delicacies in the Place de Gaulle Market and calvados (apple brandy) from nearby orchards, plus visit the historic sites in and near town. Can’t-miss attractions include the wonderful Cité de la Mer maritime museum, as well as the Roule Fort where the Americans ousted the Germans, now home to the Museum of the Liberation.
Cherbourg is also a perfect jumping off point for exploring the sights of Normandy, like the D-Day landing locations on Utah and Omaha Beaches, the historic town of Bayeux—the base of William the Conqueror before he invaded England—and the stunning scenery and sea cliffs of the Cape of La Hague.