Cherbourg, city (1990 pop. 28,773), Manche dept., NW France, in Normandy, on the English Channel, at the tip of the Cotentin peninsula. It is a naval base and seaport, and a major industrial center where submarines, oil tankers and platforms, electronics, and metals are manufactured. The site has been settled since ancient times and was frequently fought over by the French and English because of its strategic value. Fortifications were begun under Louis XIV.
Cherbourg is gateway to one of the most photographed sights in France – lofty Mont St Michel. Begun by Bishop Aubert of Avranches in 708, the slender steeple piercing the firmament is a powerful statement of Norman/Romanesque religious fervor. Around it, the immense Monasstery and Cloisters buttress the the in massive walls of stone reaching all the way down to the sea.