"Home of a Most Splendid Cathedral" Coutances by hquittner

Coutances Travel Guide: 22 reviews and 95 photos

How the Cathedral Began

Coutances (pop. 12K) has what we consider as one of the finest of the early Gothic Cathedrals. It is our favorite, the equal (not counting the windows) of Chartres and Laon.(We are not alone in this idea). It is Norman, with strong towers and lots of minor turrets, almost all surmounted by spires like a militant structure of worship. It is built on the base of a 1056 predecessor that was razed (1218) in the wars that incorporated Normandy into France. Rebuilding was completed between 1235-55, at the height of the post-Chartres church-building surge. The earlier church was the result of heavy soliciting by the Bishop Geoffrey de Montbray who dunned the now rich (and guilty?)Hauteville clan in Southern Italy and Sicily for the needed funds (Hauteville-sur-Mer is 10 km SE; unfortunately there is nothing to see there). The most remarkable features of the church are its tall center crossing tower and its spired West Front towers ( no longer perfectly symmetrical, due to economic WWII damage repair of the South one).

About the Town and More

The city is bustling and noisy and has little more to see, although we encountered the Hotel de Ville and another church, St. Pierre as we descended the main-street-hill to the parking. We did not even eat here. We stopped en route to Mont St.-Michel, our next overnight stop.

There is Much More About the Church

There are many other innovations in the internal and external features of the church. These are covered in the various Tips we have created. Particularly impressive features are the apse (chevet) area and its general simplicity within the Gothic style.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The Best Norman Gothic Cathedral
  • Cons:The Only (and Important ) Reason for Stopping Here
  • In a nutshell:Everybody should visit this Cathedral!
  • Last visit to Coutances: May 1988
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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