CHERBOURG is gaining status as a destination in its own right, thanks to the launch last year of P&O Portsmouth's fast-ferry service to the French port.
Superstar Express has slashed the crossing time on the route from 5hrs on the company's traditional ferry to less than 3hrs, making the town a potential day-trip destination.
Britons now have time to linger here and stock up their cellar in the town's shops rather than heading off to explore the Cherbourg Peninsula.
Most of the town's shops are small, family-run outlets with a traditional French flavour. They are a good place to pick up speciality foodstuffs.
Those in search of a nice bottle of red will not be disappointed as the ferry port has long catered for bargain-hunting Brits - two of the top UK wine warehouses have outlets here, and there are several hypermarkets with a good selection of wine and beer.
But once the boot of the car is filled with food and drink, there are not many things to do in Cherbourg - the Liberation Museum and the chance to get some sea air on the beach a little way from the port are the only attractions. However, there is plenty to see within a short drive, including the fishing villages of Barfleur, 16 miles away.
The region also has a World War Two connection - Sainte Mere Eglise, 24 miles away, was the first village on the peninsula to be liberated in 1945. Tourists can visit the Airborne Troops Museum. Further back in history, the town of Bayeux, 75mins drive from Cherbourg, is home to the famous tapestry that depicts the days leading up to the Norman Conquest.
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