How about Saint Lô!

Here I was as usual in my road warrior trips having done my duty and more, and coming back home early. I finally got me into a new town in my belle France! Yes indeed, so many…! I have to admit passed by close to this town many times and never the time to stop by until now. Funny thing is, sorry to tell you, was looking for a place to eat! and we look up the gps and found several at a town further down in Agneau but having seen the signs for Saint Lô well decided this is the time to get to know it, and we did ,nicely.

So now this is my take on the town of Saint Lô, if you have seen the pictures you know this is WWII territory in the battle of Normandy!

Saint-Lô is located in the department of Manche no 50 and the Normandie region. Martyred city of  WWII, Saint-Lô was decorated with the Legion of Honor in 1948 and received the nickname “Capital of Ruins”, an expression popularized by Samuel Beckett.  It is 57 km from Caen, 78 km from Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and 119 km from Rennes. The national road N174 forms a link of the European road E03 and provides a direct link to Rennes and Southern Europe via the Guilberville interchange. The southern section now links Saint-Lô directly to the A84 highway/motorway, providing access to Caen and Rennes. The northern section provides access to Cherbourg and England via the national road N13. 

Saint-Lô train station is served by TER Normandie trains on the Caen to Rennes line. It is 3 hours from the St Lazare train station in Paris.  The local bus network SLAM bus you can find out more here as never done it as the trains:

For the intercity bus network and other forms of public transports the site for Normandie is commentjyvais in French here:

The tourist office of the metro area of Saint Lô has more on public transports here: Tourist office of metro area of Saint Lô on public transports

A bit of history I like

The Bretons led by King Solomon, began to occupy the west coast of Cotentin from 836. In 889, the Vikings went up the Vire river and besieged Saint-Lô. Protected by solid ramparts built a century earlier by Charlemagne, the city did not surrender. The attackers then cut off the water supply, resulting in the surrender of the inhabitants. The Vikings massacred the inhabitants, including the bishop of Coutances, then razed the town.

The people of the region participated in the conquest of England. Henry I, Count of Cotentin and since King of England, had Saint-Lô fortified in 1090. The Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket went to Saint-Lô and a church was dedicated to him, of which no trace remains except the name of the rue Saint-Thomas (we ate there). In 1204, Saint-Lô submitted to Philippe Auguste and became French. After been in English hands, the French retake Saint-Lô on behalf of king Charles VII in 1449. The king confirming the status of Duchy of Normandy, it is the Duke of Brittany’s turn to want to occupy the Manche, but Saint-Lô victoriously repels an attack in 1467 by decimating part of the Breton troops locked up by surprise in the rue Torteron. In 1469, the ducal ring was broken and Normandy was definitively integrated into the kingdom of France.

In the 16C, Protestantism gained the Manche. Saint-Lô had a reformed church from 1555 and the first books printed were Protestant works. In 1574, the Norman Protestants made Saint-Lô their headquarters. The troops led by Marshal de Matignon besieged the city , rose to the assault ten days later and seize it a couple months later.

The French revolution of 1789 ,Saint-Lô took the Republican name of “rock of Liberty” and a tree was planted on the Champ-de-Mars. The city is relatively spared during the Terror regime and there are only a few clashes with the Chouans (rebels against the French revolution for king and God). The region suffered a significant rural exodus and loss of life during the War of 1870 and the Great War or WWI.

France was invaded in 1940 and the 7th Panzerdivision, commanded by Rommel, entered Normandy. The objective being the capture of the port of Cherbourg, the center of the Manche was spared and Saint-Lô will go on the night of June 17, 1940. In March 1943, the Nazis decide to dig an underground passage under the rock. For the time being, no one is able to say what would have been the use of this underground passage and that dug at the same time under the Institute d’Agneau.

During the Liberation, Saint-Lô suffered two attacks during the Battle of Normandy. The first is the bombardment of the city by the Americans on the night of June 6 to 7, 1944. The second is the fight for the liberation of Saint-Lô on July 17, during the battle of Saint-Lô. The city was this time bombarded by the Nazis who maintained their position in the south. The city will be destroyed at 90% and will be nicknamed “The Capital of Ruins”. It was Samuel Beckett who popularized this expression, in a poem from 1946. The Irish author indeed went through Saint-Lô in August 1944, where he helped found a hospital with the Irish Red Cross. After the war, Saint-Lô will obtain the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre 1939-1945, in June 2, 1948 with the citation “Chief town of the department of the Manche which has kept complete confidence in the destiny of the country . Underwent in the night of June 6 to 7, with heroic calm, an aerial bombardment to such a massive point that its inhabitants could consider themselves citizens of the capital of ruins.

There are some sites we just passed by that I like to include in this post and the one we stop on later post. Also ,our foodie stop where we encounter Saint Lô lol!

There is a library and a design school or Mediatheque et école de Dessin at Place du Champ de Mars . An interesting complex that, also, includes the musée des Beaux-Arts or Museum of Fine Arts all in the cultural center Jean Lurçat and all facing the Church of Sainte Croix or Holy Cross.

Saint Lô

On the church square is erected the departmental monument in memory of the victims of the war in Algeria and Indochina, inaugurated in 2005.

They , also, have an interesting municipal theater or Théâtre Municipal Roger Ferdinand at Rue Octave Feuillet.  The first municipal theater was built in 1896 on the site of the old church of Saint-Thomas from the 17C, disused during the French revolution and transformed into a wheat market. The Italian theater style was destroyed in the bombings of June 6, 1944. At the time of reconstruction, the performance hall was built at the top of the hill and connected by a fire outlet to the Salvador-Allende village hall below. The complex was inaugurated in 1963 in the presence of Roger Ferdinand and his friend Marcel Pagnol where the play was performed “Three boys, one girl”. Roger Maurice Ferdinand, by his full name, had great popular success in the late 1940s and during the 1950s with his play Les J3. Several of his plays were screened and eight of them were performed on television, in the program Au théâtre ce soir, between 1966 and 1982. He chaired the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD ) from 1946 to 1955 before directing from 1955 to 1967 the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art. The city of Saint Lô on the theater here: City of Saint Lô on the municipal theater

Saint Lô

And yes we had our lunch/dinner mix time with friendly service, good prices, great food and pretty girls in Saint Lô at the Bistro 59 + (plus) this is an annex of the couple owner first restaurant just crossing the street at Bistro 59. 59 rue Saint-Thomas corner with 3-5 rue Torteron! right in city center!. We had our linguini and beef pasta, big juicy steaks, and carbonara pasta all wash down with a Domaine Terrebrune rosé from anjou just fine, and desserts of banofee or bananas and caramels that was awesome, and water as too hot for coffee all for 22€ per person! Excellent a spot found when passing by again and need to eat in the middle of the A84 highway just head for Saint Lô and the Bistro 59+! Their Facebook page is here: Facebook page of Bistro 59 + Saint Lô

Saint Lô

Saint Lô

Of course, we needed to get our baguettes, a must!!! and we wanted to go the back road quicker home so no city center passing, and of course decided to buy our breads here at the familiar La Mie Câline 3 Place de l’Hôtel de Ville in Saint Lô! Enjoy the baguette, tradition or moulé ok!

Saint Lô

And I leave you another webpage that tells about the history of Saint Lô in French of course: City of Saint Lô on its history

The tourist office of dept 50 Manche on Saint LôTourist office of dept 50 Manche on Saint Lô

And there you go adventures of a road warrior always something to marvel at my belle France. Saint Lô was a good experience and we will be back! Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

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