Avranches in Normandy!!!

Ok so this one is an update with extra photos of a previous post that I am redoing here. As I think did not give it credit enough to a town I have passed many many times ,even at nights, spend time and was our rest stop coming from Versailles to the Morbihan even before moving to the later. Let me tell you a bit more on Avranches in Normandy!!!


Avranches is located in the département 50 Manche in the region of Normandie. I get there by car and a good start to the Mont Saint Michel side trip to anyone. The town I passed by every month on the road A84 between Caen and Rennes and can reach Paris by the A13 (tolls) autoroute de Normandie. On trains you can come to the gare d’Avranches from Caen and Rennes, the local bus network is Manéo Express for reference their webpages below. Never try these ok.

The bus network ManéoManeo Express bus network Avranches

Avranches you can come by slow TER train from Paris Gare Saint Lazare to Avranches or TGV from Montparnasse to Rennes and then TER to Avranches.

The train station or Gare dAvranchesOui SNCF train station of Avranches


A bit of history I like

The town is very old, but came to be during the Roman occupation with the name of Legedia ; this was destroyed by the end of 280 by Saxon pirates even if the city developed slowly thereafter. By the end of the 5C it became a seat of a bishop ; it was one bishop Aubert that was the initiator of the first sanctuary and the origins of Mont Saint Michel after receiving the orders from the archangel to come and visit. The Vikings came later by 933 and even taken by the Bretons thereafter!. The Norman period began by 990 with the bishop Norgod named by Duke of Normandy Richard 1er. Robert was the first Count name by the Duke for these lands and thanks to this Avranches developed Norman thereafter, and not Breton.

By 1154 Henri II Plantagenêt count of Anjou, Duke of Normandy, and Aquitaine becomes king of England. By 1162, to restored the monarchy Henri II name of one his trusted men Thomas Becket chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury ; later Thomas abandoned this functions and chose the exile. Thomas finally came back to England ,but tensions were high and Henri II ordered the elimination of Thomas done in 1170 at the Cathedral of Canterbury. This cause a great problem and Pope Alexander III excommunicated Henri, later to repent and came back Henri is force to submit to several public penitence’s one of them took place at Avranches in 1172 where he ask forgiveness to the Pope. Wars and alliances continue to make Avranches part of the Royal domaine eventually. By the end of the 12C there is a desire to unite the Normandy with Brittany as in 1188 the Viscount of Avranches Ranulf becomes also Duke of Brittany by his marriage to Constance of Brittany., this union lasted short as Brittany gained its independence. The king of France Philippe Auguste, takes advantage to take away the Normandy from the Plantagenêt. To make the story short and to the point, eventually this is done by buying from the Viscount of Avranches the region, and the king eventually came to visit his new lands twice in 1256 and 1269.

Avranches refuse Henri II and stays Catholic, in the war of religions that eventually saw Avranches devastated by the Huguenots in 1562.  Later ,the problems of the salt a local product causes new uprisings known as the barefoot against the laws of Richelieu in 1639.  During the French revolution and thereafter the city is taken  by the  Vendéens(who fought the French revolution during the wars of the west as in Brittany) without a fight in 1793 but later abandoned due to the failure of the siege of Granville. The revolutionary republicans entered the town and massacred about 800 wounded and sick for the most part in the field of Lansoudiére on the plains of Changeons. The WWII was very much in vogue here just after the Normandy invasion. The bombings gives to destruction of the train station, rue Louis Millet, rue d’Orléans , the old town section ,the rue des Fontaines Couvertes and many others. From April 1946,the city starts to rebuilt and on 1954 it opened the monument to Gen Patton at the square or Place Patton; in 2006 the Scriptorial museum opened showing the manuscripts of the Mont Saint Michel ,more on this here: http://www.scriptorial.fr/


Things to see here are the Donjon castle of the 11C by Count Robert  Today this is cross by a road rue de la Belle-Andrine and most of the donjon has crumbled, there is a wall between the roman donjon lost and the tower of Promenoir as the only remains of it The Grand-Doyenné built in the 12C, 15C and 18C housing the doyens of the church in Avranches; the roman style Cathedral of  Saint André, first showing in texts from 1025 it was consecrated in 1121 by the French revolution in 1798 it was lowered to simple Church. The old Church Notre-Dame des Champs end 17C it has been renovated and lastly opened in 1962. The Church of Saint-Saturnin built end of the 19C, The old Church of Saint-Gervais built in middle of the 17C and now a basilica neo classic dating from 1823-1899; important as has the relics of Saint Aubert.  Other than the Scriptoral mentioned above other museum worth seeing in my opinion is the Mémorial de Patton and the 3rd US Army.

However, passing by what we saw was the old Hôtel-Dieu now a hospital as the story goes:

The Hôtel-Dieu d’Avranches, located in Place Saint-Gervais and dating from the 12C was transferred in 1240 outside the city , near the Sée and on the passage of an ancient route,(now D7)  also pilgrimage route to Mont-Saint-Michel. In 1662, an edict of king Louis XIV required, in all the cities of the kingdom, a general hospital to accommodate the needy. Avranches not having yet been executed in 1676, the king instructed Bishop to assemble the chapter, the justice system and the notables; deputies are appointed who decide to establish a general hospital on the site of the old rue de Malloué. The work was completed in 1680. In addition to the chapel dating from the 13C was done, the hospice included a body of two-story buildings, a small house for the chaplain, a bakery, etc. destroyed and replaced later. Under the Empire, faced with the resurgence of abandonment of children, a tower was created where the Tourière sisters recovered the abandoned children, baptized them and entrusted them to a nanny before finding them family. A new chapel was built in 1862, on the edge of the street. By January 27, 1997, the cornerstone of the construction and restoration of the Avranches hospital site was done as we see today, the Centre Hospitalier d’Avranches et Granville. The site of Avranches is here for reference: Centre Hospitalier d’Avranches et Granville on Avranches


Some information to help you plan your trip to Avranches is here:

The city of Avranches has more info no tourism in French here: City of Avranches things to see

The department 50 Manche tourist office in English on AvranchesManche dept 50 tourist office on Avranches

Normandy region tourist office on AvranchesNormandy tourist office on Avranches things to see

And there you go folks, now I feel better given credit to this nice Norman town on the road between my Brittany and Paris. A wonderful stop for all, we often eat out here too. Hope you enjoy Avranches in Normandy!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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