I’ve been to Cherbourg in Normandy twice, each time was a three-day stay. Yet, I’ve never written about it. For a period of time, the circumstances under which I made these visits bore too much burden on my heart and my mind. After almost three years, I dug out these memories and looked back at those very peaceful days that I spent in Cherbourg, and there was nothing to regret.
Cherbourg is a port city at the tip of northwestern France, part of the department of Lower Normandy, where the sea seemed to be an indispensable part of the people’s lives in Cherbourg
Many boats were docked at the harbour to show the dependence of the little town on the sea. The skies were infinitely blue and the seas were calm, and I spent most of my days accompanied by them, so very blue.
By the harbour, a monument was erected “AUX PECHEURS DISPARUS EN MER”, commemorating the fishermen and seamen who have disappeared in the sea. While the people respect and love their sea, I’m sure there is also a certain degree of fear and awe of its vastness, calm as it may seem.
The vastness of the great sea was most strongly felt on the shores of Cherbourg, where we, insignificant as we were as humans, seemed so easily engulfed by the tides and the waters. Yet, beyond the blues is a world of mysteries that always goads us to fly into the horizon, for why else would explorers leap into the sea other than for that sense of adventure into the unknown?
Back in the little town, I stumbled across an old building that seemed to have been abandoned and forgotten. No one knew where this place was, and no one knew of its significance, as if it was meant to be left to fade in time.
Back in the town center, the Cherbourg theater stood in a quiet little square, very typical of any French town.
And of course, a water fountain stood in front of the theater with these creatures surrounding it as if protecting the city. I can’t quite tell for sure what the creature is – a dragon, a ferocious fish, a serpent, or a mythical beast of some sort perhaps?
I spent the rest of my days in Cherbourg wandering through the streets and alleys, observing the residents here who went on with their lives happily without noticing any sign of a foreign visitor. The relaxing lifestyle of the French is ubiquitous, especially in a small town like this.
Speaking of Cherbourg, I shouldn’t forget to mention the musical film “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (originally “Les Parapluies de Cherbourg” in French), which of course took place in Cherbourg itself. I didn’t know about the film before my visit, actually, and the town did a good job of using the film to its advantage as an advertisement gimmick, as signs of “the umbrella” were seen all over the town.
At one point, these umbrellas began to seem like a game, inviting you to find as many of them as possible hidden throughout the streets.
And perhaps when we needed the umbrellas the most was during the rain in Cherbourg, though after the rain, a wonderful surprise was given by nature as a reward. This was one of the widest and most magnificent double rainbow I have ever seen in my life and I really just wanted to ride on it like a roller coaster, to my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
And do you see the third rainbow? This is something that would only happen at a port city, only in Cherbourg, maybe only once in a lifetime. Merci, Cherbourg.