The Nez de Jobourg, on the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy, is a favorite for locals and tourists. The magnificent landscapes offer tall cliffs that have been sculpted by the elements. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit Nez de Jobourg on the Cotentin Peninsula?
The Cotentin Peninsula coastline is wild, rough and beautiful. It offers some of the most beautiful landscapes in Normandy.
And one of the most famous locations on the coast is the Nez de Jobourg.
It is loved by visitors because:
- The cliffs have been eroded by the sea with coves and promontory
- The views of the coast on a clear day are endless
- The cliffs in the area reach 128m (420ft)
- It is a protected naturel environment with a unique flora and fauna that is capable of resisting the harsh environment
I really enjoyed it.
About the name:
"Nez" means nose. And Jobourg is the name of the village nearby. The name comes from the shape of the Cape, the term used by Vikings for a land protrusion, that kind of ressembles a nose.
More details and photos after the planning tips.
Planning Tips - Nez de Jobourg, Normandy
How to get to the Nez de Jobourg walk
- Located in the Cotentin Peninsula, on its west coast, one of my favorite destinations in Normandy
- Accessible only by car or hiking the "sentier du littoral"
- Cherbourg to Nez de Jobourg = 35min drive
- Saint-Lô to Nez de Jobourg = 1h25 drive
Nez de Jobourg Map
Below is a map of the Cotentin Peninsula and its highlights to help you localize the Nez de Jobourg, on the west coast:
Nez de Jobourg is included in my travel guide eBook, with practical maps to help you early plan your road trip around Normandy:
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
Plan your perfect trip around Normandy with:
- Plan 30min if you only go to enjoy the viewpoint
- Or plan a couple of hours if you want to explore the area and walk a little along the walking paths
- Access is free
- The carpark is well indicated - it is a less than 10 min easy walk from the carpark to the viewpoint
- Toilets near the carpark
- Great location to watch sunset
- It is quite a touristic place (second most visited in the department after the Mont Saint-Michel)
- Caves only accessible via guided tour, see later in article.
Nez de Jobourg Restaurant
- There is a restaurant at the viewpoint, l'Auberge des Grottes.
- You can just enjoy a drink or crepes on the terrace with amazing views.
- The restaurant has its own carpark but do not park there unless you are eating at the restaurant
Nez de Jobourg accommodations - where to stay
- There are no accommodations right at the cliffs.
- You can find very few rentals in the area - see options
- The main town nearby is Cherbourg - see the best rated accommodations in Cherbourg
- Or I recommend a stay on the East coast of the peninsula in Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, as you can easily do day trips around the peninsula from there - check out the best rated accommodations in Saint-Vaast.
- There is no camping at Nez de Joubourg - the closed campgrounds are: Camping fu Hâble, Caravaning les Eglantines and Vauville Municipal campground
Access and walk to Nez de Voidries
The location is only accessible by car or via a long walk.
The Nez de Jobourg is located on a touristic road called 'Route des Caps' (Capes Road).
The last couple of hundred meters are on a smaller road, but easy to drive.
There is a large organized carpark that is well indicated.
Nez de Jobourg Walk
Once outside of the car, no way to get lost.
There is a walking path to reach the viewpoint. It is an easy walk with a slight slope.
If you need a smoother surface, you can also walk on the road to the restaurant. However, it is a narrow road, and you will be bothering the drivers.
This is part of the famous "Sentier des Douaniers".
The views only come later in the walk. However, it is a short one, so just be patient.
You will first see the views to the right, towards the La Hague Lighthouse.
The viewing platform is located on another promontory called the Nez de Voidries. It allows you to have a great view of Nez de Jobourg.
Photos of Nez de Jobourg from the viewpoint
And you arrive at the viewpoint.
There is a large flat area where you can just stand, or sit on the little wall to enjoy the views.
You will notice some coves and rock promontory.
If you feel capable, you can also walk down the walking path to explore and get different perspectives.
Just be careful if it is windy (which it often is). The cliffs in the area are very high, reaching 128m. They are some of the tallest in Europe (but not as impressive as those of Etretat and the Alabaster coast, in my opinion).
As you walk on the paths, the slopes are very abrupt.
The strong wind and crashing waves have sculpted these dramatic landscapes. The dominant winds come from the West.
The small beaches in the coves are covered in a mix of sand and pebbles.
Depending on the tide, you may see the caves that have been cut by the sea. Many legends surround them. The most famous are:
- the "Grotte aux Lions" (Lions Cave)
- Trou aux Fées (Fairies Hole), a small cut in the cliff - legend says that a tunnel links it to the church in Jobourg.
- The small church
- The large church
They were used by smugglers to hide their treasures.
The area being abrupt and unstable, the beach access path was closed in 1960. They can be visited with the associations EXSPEN and « A la découverte de la Hague ».
Cliffs, geology, history and nature
Most people visit simply because it is a wonderful raw scenery where you can see how the elements have impacted the land.
But it is also of geological interest.
This is the most ancient area in the Cotentin. It dates back to the Precambrian, 2 billion years ago. The cliffs are made of gneiss.
The cliffs of the Nez de Jobourg are home to a wide variety of birds:
- crested cormorants,
- herring gulls,
- meadow pipits,
- pitchy warblers
It is a protected area, Natura 2000.
Several archaeological sites have been listed on those cliffs. Silex tools from the Mesolithic era have been found.
There used to be a semaphore, but it was destroyed during WWII.
Northern view - La Hague
From the viewpoint you can also look in the opposite direction, towards the North.
On a clear day, you can see the Goury lighthouse, also known as La Hague lighthouse.
It is 48m high and located on a small rock called "Gros de Raz".
This lighthouse is essential, because there is a very strong current between the cape and the Aurigny island, just 15km away. The current is called 'Raz Blanchard'. It is one of the strongest in the World, very dangerous for boats.
Not far: Ecalgrain Bay
If you are in Nez de Jobourg, don't miss the Ecalgrain Bay.
It can be reached on foot or by car.
It is one of my favorite beaches in Normandy and one of my favorite landscapes.
Most people stop at Nez de Jobourg, but this is worth the detour, in my opinion.
If you visit on foot, you will arrive on the South end of the beach (photo above).
You need good walking shoes. The path includes slopes.
Plan 15min to 30min one way.
And if you arrive by car, or feel like walking more, I recommend heading to the cliffs at the Northern end. The views are wonderful, as you can see in the picture below.
Hike - Sentier des Douaniers / Sentier du Littoral
The Nez de Jobourg is located on a famous hike called "Sentier des Douaniers" or "Sentier du Littoral" or GR223 (you will see both written on signs).
It is 446km long between Mont-Saint-Michel and Carentan, going all along the coastline.
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