Avranches

The Botanical Garden

The reputation of Avranches botanical garden is largely due to its ideal location: a belvedere between sea and sky with a grandiose panoramic view over the bay of Mont St Michel, it inspired several 19th century writers such as Guy de Maupassant, Victor Hugo and Stendhal.


In 2006 and 2007, the garden was renovated as part of the overall rehabilitation of the Mont St Michel site. The site now comprises 12 different gardens and has found a new life, 200 years after its creation.
Opened in 1796 by a regional college, it was developed in 1800 by two botanists, Jean Le Chevalier et René Le Berriays, who collected 800 species and more than 2,400 plants, from exotics plants to fruit trees and medicinal herbs. In 1842, the local archaeological society installed the Romanesque portal of the old St Georges de Bouille chapel in the garden, which became a favourite spot of several writers like Maupassant or Paul Feval, who drew inspiration from the place to write “La Fee des Greves” in 1851.


Listed as a Historic Monument in 1944, the garden was seriously damaged by allied bombing and two storms in 1987 and 1999.

Web sites

Botanic garden- ©Ville d’Avranches DRBotanic garden - ©Ville d’Avranches DRBotanic garden - © TPBMSM MG DR
3 previous stages
Population: 8,700
Sub-prefecture of Manche (50)
Specialities: jambonnade (ham), white boudin, shallot soup.
Economy: tourism.
Sport: VC Avranchinais (cycling), US Avranches (football). Tour de Normandie, start of  Polynormande.
Celebrities:  Aubert d'Avranches (bishop), Rene Waldeck-Rousseau (politician), Jean-Luc Ponty (jazz violinist), Samuel Le Bihan (comedian).
Culture: La nuit des Abrincat's (September). Rencontre des cultures (summer). Les éclats de rire (June), Les Estivales (July).
Labels : ville fleurie (3)

Timeline

  • 1st century BC

    The Romans destroy an oppidum occupied by the tribe of the Abrincates and create a locality.
  • Late 5th century

    Avranches becomes a bishop see.
  • 709

    Aubert, bishop of Avranches, creates a first shrine on the Mont St Michel site.
  • 933

    Avranches passes under Breton rule. Avranches becomes a county under the rule of Duke Richard I of Normandy. Robert is the first Count of Avranches.
  • 1065

    Hugh d’Avranches becomes one of the leading figures in the Anglo-Norma aristocracy after the conquest of England.
  • 1172

    After the murder of Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, King Henry III does penance in Avranches.
  • 1236

    After several years of fighting, the King of France buys back the County of Avranches.
  • 1590

    Avranches, who chose the camp of the Ligue against King Henry IV, is beaten by the royal armies.
  • 1639

    The “nus pieds” (bare feet), employed in the local salt ponds, rise up against Richelieu, who wants to impose a tax on salt. The revolt is quashed in blood.
  • 1793

    The town is taken by the Chouans on November 13 but taken back by the Republicans a week later.
  • 1944

    Patton frees Avranches and opens the road towards Paris.
Mont-Saint-Michel abbey. Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches in the 8th century, dreamt of Archangel Michael, who oredered him to build a shrine on the Mount. - ©Tango7174George S. Patton,.U.S. Army picture.
3 previous stages
Population: 8,700
Sub-prefecture of Manche (50)
Specialities: jambonnade (ham), white boudin, shallot soup.
Economy: tourism.
Sport: VC Avranchinais (cycling), US Avranches (football). Tour de Normandie, start of  Polynormande.
Celebrities:  Aubert d'Avranches (bishop), Rene Waldeck-Rousseau (politician), Jean-Luc Ponty (jazz violinist), Samuel Le Bihan (comedian).
Culture: La nuit des Abrincat's (September). Rencontre des cultures (summer). Les éclats de rire (June), Les Estivales (July).
Labels : ville fleurie (3)

Web sites

Avranches and cycling

Super-Mario was born in Avranches. Twenty years ago, Mario Cipollini clinched the first of his 12 stage wins on the Tour the day before a 81-km team time trial in Avranches in which his GB-MG team-mates made sure he took the yellow jersey. While he lost it two days later, the Italian would hold it again in 1997, for twice as long this time. In 2002, another future yellow jersey holder snatches his first stage win on the Tour in Avranches. Bradley has so much confidence in his chances that day that he told television before the start to look no further for the stage winner.

Mario Cipollini, stage Dinard/Avranches on Tour de France de 1993 - © presse Sports/Clement
3 previous stages
Population: 8,700
Sub-prefecture of Manche (50)
Specialities: jambonnade (ham), white boudin, shallot soup.
Economy: tourism.
Sport: VC Avranchinais (cycling), US Avranches (football). Tour de Normandie, start of  Polynormande.
Celebrities:  Aubert d'Avranches (bishop), Rene Waldeck-Rousseau (politician), Jean-Luc Ponty (jazz violinist), Samuel Le Bihan (comedian).
Culture: La nuit des Abrincat's (September). Rencontre des cultures (summer). Les éclats de rire (June), Les Estivales (July).
Labels : ville fleurie (3)

Web sites

Places to see

The keep of Avranches

The castle was built circa 950 by Onfroi le Dane on the ruins of an old Roman fortress. A succession of walls and ditches was added to the original building. The construction of the Avranches keep probably dates from the Ducal period (11th and 12th centuries) when Robert was named the first Count of Avranches by Duke of Normandy Richard I. The keep was a quadrangular tower of 36 by 26 metres, typical of the Anglo-Norman keeps to be found both sides of the Channel after the 1066 conquest. The Tower of London followed similar plans.  The Gallo-Roman clocks used for the construction are still visible today. In 1204 when Avranche was annexed to Normandy, the fortifications were seriously damaged and they were almost entirely demolished in the 18th century when the ramparts were sold. The keep was destroyed in 1848 and replaced by a street in which some buildings still show the remains of the old castle. The remaining tower is what is left of a 13th century wall between two bastions.

St Gervais basilica  

The basilica was built from the 17th century on the site of an ancient shrine and was totally restored throughout the 19th century. A restoration campaign has started in 2010 on the neo-classic building. The treasure of St Gervais includes a reliquary containing the skull of Aubert, the founder of the Mont St Michel sanctuary in 708.

Episcopal palace:

The Avranches courthouse is a former Episcopal manor built in 1490 for Louis de Bourbon, bishop of Avranches. It is close to the place where stood the Avranches cathedral. The building, the residence of bishops up to the Revolution, rested of the town's rampart. Damaged during the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion, the building has housed the courthouse since 1798. Destroyed by fire in 1899, it was rebuilt by architect Cheftel.

The Scriptorial:

Depository of the Mont St Michel manuscripts since the Revolution, Avranches opened a museum in 2006 in the heart of the old town.
Some 3,000 volumes originating from the Mont St Michel monastery and 200 medieval parchments, some dating from as far as the 8th century, make the reputation of the Avranches scriptorial.

Wall and keep- ©IKmo-nedEpiscopal palace - ©Ville d’Avranches DRScriptorial - ©Ville d’Avranches DRScriptorial, manuscripts - ©Ville d’Avranches DRScriptorial - ©Ville d’Avranches DRQuarter of Avranches - ©Ville d’Avranches DRAvranches cathedral - ©Ville d’Avranches DR
3 previous stages
Population: 8,700
Sub-prefecture of Manche (50)
Specialities: jambonnade (ham), white boudin, shallot soup.
Economy: tourism.
Sport: VC Avranchinais (cycling), US Avranches (football). Tour de Normandie, start of  Polynormande.
Celebrities:  Aubert d'Avranches (bishop), Rene Waldeck-Rousseau (politician), Jean-Luc Ponty (jazz violinist), Samuel Le Bihan (comedian).
Culture: La nuit des Abrincat's (September). Rencontre des cultures (summer). Les éclats de rire (June), Les Estivales (July).
Labels : ville fleurie (3)

Web sites

The Avranches breakthrough

On June 6, 1944, Avranches had been under German occupation for four years when bombs started falling over the town. The Allied landing in Normandy had started and the liberation of Europe was underway.


From the first days of the Allied attack, Avranches would meet the same fate as other Norman towns. A violent bombing on June 7, meant to cut the German retreat, killed many civilians, destroying several parts of the town, whose population fled to the countryside.


On July 31,Avranche was liberated. The army led by General Patton had just achieved what History now refers to as the Avranches breakthrough, a part of Operation Cobra. The fighting was not so fierce as the German officers had made the fatal mistake of surrendering their positions in this strategic area. In August, the German troops tried in vain to take back a hill between Mortain and Avranches but it was too late. A wide open road now lay ahead for the liberators to reach Paris and the rest of the country. After the joy of the Liberation, the Avranches people faced the tough reality of having to rebuild their town entirely.

Destroyed tanks during the Avranches battle – Photo U.S ArmyFour armies fought for three weeks around Avranches – Photo U.S Army
3 previous stages
Population: 8,700
Sub-prefecture of Manche (50)
Specialities: jambonnade (ham), white boudin, shallot soup.
Economy: tourism.
Sport: VC Avranchinais (cycling), US Avranches (football). Tour de Normandie, start of  Polynormande.
Celebrities:  Aubert d'Avranches (bishop), Rene Waldeck-Rousseau (politician), Jean-Luc Ponty (jazz violinist), Samuel Le Bihan (comedian).
Culture: La nuit des Abrincat's (September). Rencontre des cultures (summer). Les éclats de rire (June), Les Estivales (July).
Labels : ville fleurie (3)

Web sites

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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