Situated to the east of the Mont Saint-Michel – Normandy destination, on the old road to Paris, Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët is also known as the crossroads of the three provinces: a town of exchange between Normandy, Brittany and the Pays de la Loire.
A town with historical ties
At first glance, it’s hard to find traces of the old town among the 1950s buildings in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët. And yet, its foundation dates back to 1083, though two popular routes already met there at the end of antiquity: a route that today links Bayeux to Nantes, and another between Avranches, the land of the Abrincates, to Jublains, the land of the Diablintes.
From the mediaeval castle …
Today, if we venture into the historic heart of the town of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, the only visible evidence of its mediaeval past is the tower of the old church that locals colloquially refer to as the “Old Tower”. Dating from the 15th century, it should have been destroyed when the present church was completed, but various postponements, war and the passion of the parishioners ensured it was maintained until it was classified as a Historical Monument on 23 April 1921.
For the rest of the mediaeval town, we have only the street names to help guide us. For example, the square in front of the church is called Place de la Motte, the place where the castle of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët once stood, later destroyed to build the new church in the 19th century. However, if we take a detour on the Rue de Parish, heading towards l’Orne, we can admire the castle’s old Renaissance-style gate, which now opens onto the communal cemetery.
… to the barracks of the 1950s
Like many towns in Normandy, Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët experienced the Allied bombing in the summer of 1944. At that time, almost 80% of the town was destroyed. However, as soon as the fighting ended, work started to organise its restoration, making Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët a symbol of reconstruction in the South Manche.
Hidden away on Boulevard Gambetta, two barracks dating back to the Reconstruction remain in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, just opposite the Espace Culturel la Verrière. And fifty metres further up, on Boulevard Victor Hugo, we can see the first house built in the reconstruction of Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, inaugurated by General de Gaulle. A plaque has been installed here, making it easier to identify the house.
An art of living in complete tranquillity
In Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, you can get back to the essentials. Fresh, local and seasonal products at the market, hiking and long bike rides and the pleasure of family outings.
Let’s celebrate the colours!
If there’s one thing not to be missed in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët, it’s the weekly market. Every Wednesday morning, on Place Delaporte, behind the Tourist Information Office, visitors are greeted by all the colours of the rainbow. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, sugared crêpes for little foodies, scarves in winter and caps in summer. And of course, our unmistakable sausage galette! With or without mustard?
See life in green …
Though some see life through rose-tinted glasses, we prefer life in green! The town has been labelled a Station Verte (Green Resort) since 13 April 2011. Whether you visit to laze around the lake or run along the cycling and walking paths, have fun and laugh at our shows or simply breathe in the fresh air, the Station Verte label guarantees you eco-tourism, eco-responsible and … green town, quite simply!
And it’s perfect for families!
Since 2012, Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët has also become a favourite destination for families, thanks to its Famille Plus (Family Plus) label. Everything you need for an unforgettable family holiday can be found here!
The town offers year-round activities for families, such as the Family Plus Weekend at Easter, and the Saint-Hilaire Family Fun Week in October. Shopkeepers and craftsmen are happy to make all the efforts for our families.