Gare Maritime de Cherbourg

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The harbour station, Cherbourg.

Cherbourg's Gare Maritime or Gare Maritime Transatlantique was a railway station at the end of the railway line from Paris' Gare Saint-Lazare and of the short branch from Cherbourg's main station.


The complex consisted of the transatlantic hall, a two storey building through which passengers boarded ocean liners using nine footbridges, as well as with a plethora of amenities:

  • Passenger concourse
  • Post office
  • Offices of each shipping company.

The hall is 240m long and constitutes the bulk of the complex, thirty four concrete arches carrying the copper and glass rooftop.

As the station is 93m wide, it was at the time of building the second largest construction in France after Palace of Versailles and covered 2 hectares. As well as the size of the construction mentioned, a 70m tall clock tower was built.

Along the hall was a 500m long covered gallery used for embarquement and disembarquement of passengers.

The station was divided in two parts and on the transatlantique side; two ships could berth and empty a thousand passengers into the station in an hour. On the Railway side, up to seven trains a day would take passengers to Paris in 3½ hours.


The station building was designed by René Levavasseur and inaugurated by the President of the French Republic Albert Lebrun on 30 July 1933.

Gare Maritime saw intense activity during World War II as well as during the 1950s and 60s although partially destroyed in 1944.

The buildings were listed in December 1989 and constitute the last surviving example of 1930s maritime architecture.

In 1996, an architectural competition was organised to create a naval museum instead of the railway station. A project, respecting the original building, was adopted in 1997 and the work began in 1999.

The Cité de la Mer museum was opened in April 2002.

In 2006, a cruise terminal was inaugurated : Cherbourg is becoming a big cruise port of call. In 2008 and 2009, Constellation, Celebrity Summit, Queen Mary 2, Costa Victoria, Jewel of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Century, Maasdam, Independence of the Seas, Queen Victoria will do a call at this harbour.

In the Hamburg seatrade 2007, Cherbourg has become the award of the best port of call of the year.

Coordinates: 49°38′45″N 1°37′03″W / 49.64583°N 1.61750°W / 49.64583; -1.61750