Tocqueville is located on the Cotentin peninsula in the West end of Normandy, 20 km (12 miles) East of the port of Cherbourg. The nearest train stations are either Cherbourg or Valognes. The train trip Paris-Valognes takes a little less than 3 hours. The closest airport is Cherbourg Maupertus (10 km (6 miles) from Tocqueville and also 10 km from Cherbourg).
If you were to wander through the park of the Château de Tocqueville, you may be surprised to fall upon a pair of German blockhouses: in fact, you have just encountered a part of what, at one time, was known as The Atlantic Wall. Indeed, Tocqueville is also located on that part of the Atlantic coast that was heavily fortified and at the very end of the strategic right flank of the Normandy invasion by American, British and Canadian Allied forces that took place on 6 June 1944: D-Day. In the pre-dawn morning of that fateful day, this entire area behind the beaches of the Cotentin Peninsula was blanketed by troops of the 82nd and the 101st US Airborne Division in order to surprise their enemies and cut off the beachheads from reinforcements. Later, at dawn that same morning, forces of the US 4th Infantry Division (the “Iron Horse Division”), under the personal command of Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., stormed ashore at Utah Beach, and began the liberation of Europe.
At Tocqueville you are near the heart of this right wing of the invasion: Utah Beach and Sainte-Mère-Eglise are a mere 36 km (22 miles) away. The town of Carentan, scene of bitter fighting, is 54 km (33 miles) away as well.
Moving further east, you will encounter the rest of the key sites where the critical events of that fateful day took place: Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach and its moving American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, the Invasion Museum at Saint Lo, the British and Canadian beachheads of Gold, Juno and Sword, the Mulberry Harbor at Arromanches, Pegasus Bridge, and the dramatic Memorial of Caen, as well as many other interesting historic museums and monuments along the way.
While sojourning in the area, within a short drive from the Château you will therefore have the possibility to discover all of this important part of the history of the Second World War (partial list below).
– Utah Beach 36 km (22 miles), Sainte-Mère-Eglise 36 km (22 miles), Carentan 54 km (33 miles), Pointe du Hoc 79 km (49 miles), Omaha Beach 89 km (55 miles), Ouistreham 140 km (87 miles) and Pegasus Bridge 136 km (84 miles), Arromanches 106 km (65 miles), Memorial Museum in Caen 126 km (78 miles)
For those who are particularly interested in French history, there are many other historic sites in the near vicinity. For example, you can visit the nearby town of Bayeux, which features a crown masterpiece of French Medieval history: the Tapestry of Bayeux 91 km (56 miles), which pictures the conquest of England by William the Conqueror and was crafted by Queen Mathilda, his wife. The spectacular site of Mont-Saint-Michel 159 km (99 miles)and the British Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernesey, Alderney, Chausey, Sark, …) are close at hand and make excellent day-trips. There are also a multitude of smaller local, but equally interesting, sites to visit nearby in this historic region of France.
In practical terms, your hosts shall be happy to help you organize various activities or tours with, as the case may be, the possible assistance of a professional English speaking guide (upon request):
– In the footsteps of Alexis de Tocqueville, a personalized visit of the Château, including Alexis de Tocqueville’s private cabinet, as well as a welcome dinner with Count and Countess de Tocqueville (if they are sojourning in Tocqueville at the time)
– And in the close vicinity of the Château, Nacqueville and Tourlaville (Renaissance chateau of the XVI century), the Châteaux of Edouard and Hippolyte, brothers of Alexis de Tocqueville, with its garden of exotic plants
– Harbors of Barfleur, and its chapel (the main Norman harbor of the Dukes of Normandy and Kings of England until the end of the Middle Age) as well as Saint-Vaast-La-Hougue, and shop at the famous fine grocery Gosselin store
– Gatteville lighthouse, the 2nd highest lighthouse in Europe
– Montfarville’s church, with its paintings like a miniature Sistine Chapel
– Tatihou Island, a World Heritage site
– Cap Levi, with its Napoleonic-era fort
– The west northern coast of the Cotentin with the Hague area, « Nez de Jobourg » the oldest mountains in France, Port Racine the smallest harbor in France, Greville – the birthplace of Jean François Millet, painter of the « Angelus », Omonville home of the 20th century poet Jacques Prevert, And many more…
The charming harbor of Barfleur