Granville owes its name to its first occupiers after the Vikings: the Grant family.
William the Conqueror asked for their help in 1066 and, in return for their loyalty during the conquest of Great Britain, granted them lands.
In 1230, having no male descendants, the Grant family became allied to the Lord of Argouges (of Gratot, near Coutances) who himself never lived in Granville.
In the 14th century, the English conquered Normandy except for the Mont Saint-Michel which they tried nevertheless to invest from the port of Genêts.
In 1492, the Jews chased from Spain, arrived at Granville. Forbidden to live within the city, they settled down in the suburbs where they acquired the right to trade as silversmiths and money-lenders. It is in particular thanks to this activity that the Granville fleet developed. From 1450, fishing-boats from Granville and the surrounding area began to fish in Newfoundland, Canada.
Historically, the socio-economic development of Granville was closely linked to its sea-front: from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century, Granville was an important cod-fishing port sending each year 110 sailing boats around Newfoundland, and vying with Saint-Malo for the title of leading French most important port.
The “Bisquine”, a handsomely-rigged sailing ship, was designed as a dredger, and used on the beds of the wild-oysters, the “pied de cheval” (horse’s hoof) in the Mont Saint-Michel’s Bay.
For three months every year, Granville was transformed into an elegant quarter of Paris. Urbanisation based on the architecture of the seaside and given impetus by some great Parisian architects, gave the city of Granville its present layout: the Casino, built in 1911 is a listed historic monument, the “Hôtel de l’Ermitage” in Donville-les-Bains and villas such as “Les Rhumbs” (which was bought in 1906 by Louis Dior, the couturier’s father), were built at the same period. In 1912, the Granville golf course, one of the only true golf-links in the Atlantic Arc, was built by the greatest pre war golf-course designer.
View on the district Saint Paul
Granville is still developing its seafront: its marina built in 1975 offers 1 000 berths and 700 more are envisaged in the future. Its fishing port, leading port in France for shellfish, is home to more than 60 trawlers and all-purpose boats.
The marina (at the bottom to the left). In the foreground and from left to right, the commercial harbour and the outer harbour.
Almost 155 000 tons of gravel and scrap metal are exported yearly from the Commercial Port. Every year in the first weekend of August, this activity that is inherent to Granville is celebrated during the Nuit des Soudeurs: welder artists and craftsmen occupy the trading port’s quays for one night to draw inspiration from the scraps of iron and materials amassed there and shape them… An average of 160 000 passengers depart from Granville to reach the Chausey archipelago and its coastal area, or the Channel Islands via a daily link to Jersey for instance.
Free large-scale events are organized on a regular basis from February to October: from Carnaval, which is famous for its spontaneity and its good-natured satirical spirit, to Toute la mer sur un plateau – which puts seafood in the spotlight – to the street arts festival – Les Sorties de Bain, La Nuit des Soudeurs, etc. Boasting a highly attractive cultural policy and an exceptional architectural and natural heritage, the City of Granville is applying to obtain the Ville et Pays d’Art et d’Histoire label. The town council is currently compiling the cultural and heritage actions that the city has undertaken. This is an application prerequisite.