|Opposite the archipelago of the Chausey islands, the town of Donville-les-Bains has been classified as a seaside resort since 1962, though its name actually dates from 1907. The town's most distinctive charm is its diversity.
Met at the west by the sea and at the east by the Boscq river, the town is divided into two almost equal halves by the route de Coutances.
Donville was undoubtedly home to a monastery in ancient times, which would have lain close to today's church of Saint Clair. For historians, the discovery of remains gave credence to this theory. A descendant of Guillaume Longue Epée, 2nd duke of Normandy, called Jeanne, was the lady of Donville, Granville and St Pair.
In the 13th century, the white ladies of Mortain Abbey owned the church of Donville and seven fisheries. In 1793, the Vendean army besieged Granville and took equipment, horses and food belonging to the people of Donville.
|However, a visit to the town is the only way to really get to know it.
- The seaside: to the south, Donville starts at the Pointe du Lude beach. Coming from Granville, follow the picturesque chemin des Douaniers, which runs alongside the Christian Dior garden, and overlooks the sea. Behold the Chausey Islands and breathe in the salty sea air from the 30-metre high cliff!
To get to the beach, simply follow the chemin des Douaniers towards the north and you will come to the seafront promenade. Both during the day and when lit up at night, the promenade is always a popular spot for walking. At the end of the promenade stands l'Ermitage, which was previously a luxury hotel, and now an apartment building. Behind l'Ermitage, you will find a bowling alley and the l'Ermitage regional camp site.
There are numerous staircases leading up to the cliff top but you can also follow the chemin de la Rafale for a sea-front walk. It runs alongside the heliport and leads to the racecourse and the Oasis de la Plage camp site. At the top of the racecourse, you'll find Les Mielles (once a small haven from the sea-beaten salt marsh). At low tide, you will notice mussels growing on pilings (bouchots) or witness mussel farming. You are now at the most northern part of the town. If you continue walking towards Bréville, you will reach the golf course.
|To discover "Old Donville", with its ancient church of Saint Clair and old graveyard, go back up onto the rue Pasteur after the waterworks. It is very likely that the original church was built on the site of a Roman villa, as various findings at the site support this theory (lamps, brick walls, etc.).
At the top of rue de la vieille église, once you have seen the renovated, 13th century building, where waves used to reach at high tide, along with the ancient rectory, turn right onto the rue de l’Observatoire. Why is this street named “Observatory Road”? Because in 1884, Mr Lucien Rudaux, member of the Société Astronomique de France (the French Astronomical Society) built an observatory to study the planets and worked there until 1947. You can no longer see the dome, but a small building remains. The astronomer's father, Edmond Rudaux, who also drew portraits of the great authors of his time (George Sand, Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola and Gérard de Nerval), left some original pictures behind. One of them is in Donville town hall. Now you are on la route de Coutances, Donville's main road, and can discover the countryside.
- The countryside:
To the north, the imposing château d’eau is decorated with a pictorial fresco featuring depictions of hand fishing, sand dunes, the sea and Bisquine boats. From the roundabout, which continues the maritime theme, the road leads to Yquelon after crossing the river Boscq. The road will be widened this year with the addition of a new lane, which will improve safety in the area. At the top of this road, the town lake awaits keen line fishers. There used to be a quarry here. The quarrying of quartz and clay was, along with brickworks and ropemaking, an important activity in Donville outside of fishing. Further down the rue de la Passardière are Donville's newer areas: La Fougeraie, La Passardière and La Chênaie, etc. Further north lies the Artisan quarter. A few hundred metres further along, on the rue de la Pierre Aiguë, stands a rock shaped like a spearhead. This mass of rock is located on a private property. A Menhir perhaps? Or maybe a boundary marker or a military milestone? The Roman road passed along here, extending from Cosedia (Coutances) to Sessiac (Saint-Pair).
There are numerous staircases leading onto the promenade from the beach but you can also follow the chemin de la Rafale sea-front walk. This walk runs alongside the Civil Security heliport and reaches the racecourse as well as the Oasis de la Plage camp site. At the top of the racecourse you'll find Les Mielles (once a small haven from the sea-beaten salt marsh). At low tide, you will notice mussels growing on pilings (bouchots) or mussel culture. You are at the most northern part of the town. If you continue walking towards Bréville you will find the golf course.
|If you go to the main square, behind the Post Office you'll notice the Donville coat of arms on the pediment of the library, which was once the town hall. At a symbolic level, this heraldry depicts a golden seahorse with a shining sun. The shield is supported by two oak branches. It evokes bravery and images of the sea.
Donville-les-Bains is one of the four founding towns of the communauté de communes du Pays Granvillais (a community of communes in the Granville area) created by prefectorial order on 30 December 1996, effective from 1 January 1997. Aside from Granville, this initiative included Saint Pair sur Mer and Saint Planchers. In the 1999 census, Donville's population consisted of 3,351 residents, which made for a population density of 1,219 residents per km2 (the number of residents in all districts put together was 117,431 or 67 residents per km2). With its three kilometres of fine sand, Donville smoothly extends out onto Plat Gousset beach. Its plentiful stocks make this a line fishing paradise, and even fishing novices can practice in relative safety as long as they follow basic precautions. All kinds of beach and water sports go on at this little resort, which is so welcoming that its population triples during the summer. The town council, along with the tourist office and an active community of organisations and associations, make sure that the calendar is filled with lots of special events, shows, exhibitions and competitions, etc. The month of August is particularly busy with the summer bric-a-brac fair and the parade, which attracts more and more people every year.
Donville les Bains
97 route de Coutances