Touques, discovery tour in 1 hour

Walking tour

Touques experienced a strong dynamism thanks to its port, which peaked during the late Middle Ages between the 52th century and the XNUMXth century. This port was used for the travel of the Dukes and Kings to go to England, as well as the exploitation of salt, a source of development for the city. Up to XNUMX salt works were present in the city of Touques during the XNUMXth century.
Much later, the Paris-Deauville railway line was established to serve the new seaside resorts of Trouville and Deauville. To do this, in 1863, the Touques was diverted, thus causing the disappearance of its port.
Town of yesterday and today, Touques unveils its medieval heritage to those who linger there.


2 km
Church of St. Peter
The existence of this church is mentioned from 1026 in an act of Richard II, but the building, preserved today, cannot go back beyond the years 1070-1080 under the reign of William the Conqueror, having undoubtedly succeeded to an older building.
Outside, the lantern tower, erected after 1125, has the particularity of being octagonal, whereas it is usually square.
Inside, the church has a restored Romanesque nave, dating from around 1100 years old, reduced to two bays in the XNUMXth century. The crossing of the transept preserves capitals with beautiful decorations: quadrupeds, snakes, flat heads. The arches of the crossing, decorated with bird beaks, support the octagonal lantern tower. The choir, offset from the nave, is covered with a barrel vault supported by a double arch, a rare occurrence in Normandy during the Romanesque period.
Decommissioned during the revolution, the church has been desecrated since 1791. It was almost destroyed and owes its protection to the National Caisse des Monuments Historiques created in 1840 which undertook extensive restorations there the same year. It was used as a depot for furniture, firefighting equipment and even petroleum. In the 1920s, bleachers were set up there to make it a performance hall. Today, it is a cultural space: concerts and exhibitions follow one another.
St. Thomas Church
Listed as a historical monument since 1926, the church of Saint-Thomas de Touques has been enormously altered since its construction in the 21th century, and only retains the original one of its bell tower (1870 meters high), surmounted by a Neo-Gothic octagonal spire added after the repair of the bell tower in XNUMX.
The church has a Romanesque nave, transformed in the XNUMXth, XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, a Gothic choir entirely rebuilt during the Hundred Years War, and a Louis XIV-style portal. The choir houses an old opening intended for lepers of the sickness center of Saint-Marc so that they can listen to mass outside.
The church bears the name Saint Thomas in reference to Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterburry after his visit to Touques. Thomas Becket was in the service of King Henry II Plantagenêt as Chancellor of England. Following his appointment as archbishop, he renounced his role as chancellor and publicly opposed the king. Thomas Becket was assassinated in his cathedral in 1170. He will be canonized in 1173 and the inhabitants of Touques will place their church under his protection. Inside the church, a stained glass window represents his assassination. We can also see "holes in the burrows" in the walls which were used to put scaffolding to allow repairs, a gigantic crucifix dating from the XNUMXth century, a statue of Saint Gilles (protector of children), a virgin and child.
Outside, under the roof, "Modillions" representing animal heads were used to hold the cornice.
The Saint-Thomas church is since the desecration of the Saint-Pierre church, the only place of worship of Touques.
Place Lemercier has always existed. Fairs and markets punctuated Touques life there from the XNUMXth century.
The current halls remind us that there were some beautiful medieval halls built in the XNUMXth century. For five centuries, they housed the weekly Saturday market which was considered considerable with poultry, vegetables and other goods and three annual fairs. These halls belonged to the Bishops of Lisieux who taxed their occupation until the Revolution. They were parallel to the main street and formed of two naves separated by eleven bays, crossing almost from edge to edge the whole place.
In 1854, considering a state of advanced dilapidation, the Prefect ordered their destruction. The municipality of the time opposed it and a fight of several decades was engaged. Nothing will do, they are destroyed in 1910. It was not until 1995 that Touques returned to its halls, then enlarged in 2018.
Place Lemercier
Town hall
The disappearance of the port of Touques in 1863 plunges the city into a slow and long period of economic desertification. It was only in 1914 that a new town hall was erected, of a neoclassical type, dominated by its monumental clock and supported by superb colonnades. Its funding undermines the public budget, which earned it the name of "Golden Town Hall". Fortunately, from the middle of the twentieth century, Touques gradually recovered and its Town Hall then took on symbolic value: that of the desire to regain importance, a forgotten time.
7 Place Lemercier
Salt cellar and its mansion
Louis XIII-style building, the Manor is listed in the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments for its facade combining Caen stone, black flint and white flint, its steeply pitched roof and its fireplace on the ground floor.
This construction from the end of the XNUMXth century was the seat of the royal administration and housed a saltworks controller and a quest clerk, both employees of the Ferme Générale, a privileged company responsible for collecting indirect taxes. They were in charge of supervising the production of the salt workers and of collecting for the king the taxes on salt called the "quarter broth". The salt was harvested by boiling a brine obtained by leaching sand impregnated with sea salt. The saltworks poured a quarter of their production into the king's granaries.
Built along the Douet Mont-Blanc, later called Ruisseau des Ouies, the Grenier à Sel housed the production of saltworks. This ideal situation allowed the boats loaded with salt to arrive there. Of 52 saltworks in the 12th century, only XNUMX remained in the XNUMXth century. Subsequently, the place was used by the first municipal councils of the town.
The whole of the Attic and the Manor are the subject of a major rehabilitation project by the municipality of Touques.
41 rue Louvel and Brière
Monrival Quay
Touques was the last village before the estuary, which made its fame and its fortune from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century.
In the Middle Ages, it was recommended to dock at Touques to disembark in the Kingdom of France. Touques was very popular with the Dukes and Kings, who frequently traveled between England and Normandy and disembarked at the port to stop over at Bonneville Castle.
At its peak, the port was a shipyard, where the flagship of the 250th century Norman fleet was built. Its trade was almost entirely turned towards export (wood, salt, apples, cider and calvados) delivered to distant destinations, such as Brazil or Newfoundland. From the 300th to the end of the 1863th century, an average of XNUMX to XNUMX boats entered the port of Touques per year. He remained very active until the beginning of the XNUMXth century, until the development of Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer, the roads and the railway, and the diversion of the river. Touques permanently lost its port in XNUMX.
Haras de Meautry
It is one of the most famous stud farms in France. The Haras de Meautry, formerly Meautrix, was created in 1875 by two brothers, Alphonse and Gustave de Rothschild, around a manor dating from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. The whole area then covered twelve hectares. Today it reaches almost a hundred hectares. It has since been passed on to the descendants of the family.
The monumental portal is listed in the Inventory of Historical Monuments. The garden was designed by Page Russel, a British gardener and landscaper.
Many remarkable horses are bred there, including some legendary champions, having won the prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
9 rue de Meautry
The presbytery knows how to distinguish itself thanks to many architectural peculiarities which make all its charm: its finials, its chimney in checkerboard of bricks and stones, its doors and windows in carved wood, its stone ground floor contrasting with the wooden floor as well as the bull's eye on the gable.
The presbytery of St Peter's Church lost its function in 1790, when its church was desecrated.
Saint-Pierre square
Old stables
In 1875, Alphonse and Gustave de Rothschild built the Meautry stud farm around a manor dating from the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. The stables, then dependencies of this one, will be ceded to the City of Touques by the baron Guy de Rothschild and are restored to be transformed into workshops of arts.
Saint-Pierre square
The commercial importance of the port of Touques, from the 1331th century, justifies the establishment in 1786 of the seat of a particular administration: an Admiralty housed near the quays. The staff is made up of a lieutenant, a prosecutor, a commissioner, two bailiffs, a wharf master and a broker. They are responsible for ensuring order on the docks, where disputes are very numerous, to impose fines, to control traffic, the loading of gauges and to collect the taxes. The Admiralty monitors the fishing and fisheries established on the Touques. They are free of rights and are transmitted by inheritance. The Admiralty is responsible for watching the coast. Following the decline in economic activity at the port, it was abolished in XNUMX.
In the Middle Ages, washhouses sometimes consisted of a simple stone placed by the river or a simple plank and without shelter. They were mainly built thanks to the seigniorial funds at the request of the subjects who paid a royalty to use it: it was the right of banality. Some laundries were equipped with fireplaces to produce the ash necessary for bleaching the laundry, we "washed with ashes" twice a year. A washerwoman brought the laundry to the edge of a stream, rubbed it with ash, rinsed it and twisted it, folding it several times. She then beat it with a wooden beater in order to wring it out as much as possible before bringing it to the drying place. There were many washhouses and laundry facilities in Touques all along the stream of gills.
Saint-Pierre square
Aubergine houses
The organization of the habitat undoubtedly comes from the progressive installation of houses and farms under the high tutelage of the castle of Bonneville-sur-Touques, the powerful fortress which made the glory and the fame of the place.
In the absence of a real urban plan, the alleys, dead ends, alleys, passages under houses (like this one which leads from the washhouse to the halls) proliferated, creating a labyrinthine entanglement.
Throughout the central street, adjacent streets and passages, there are still many half-timbered houses which retain their typical Augeron character in Touques. The nearby forest provided the easiest and cheapest building material.
The ordinary houses, with half-timbered walls, are quite narrow, with one or two windows per storey, pressed against each other. Made up of a ground floor of stones and three or four floors of wood and cob, they are served by a spiral staircase. The roof covering is made of thatch or wooden slats.

Contact us:
+33 (0)2 31 14 40 00

Our tourist information offices:

Residence of the Clock
Empress Eugenie wharf
14800 Deauville
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Place Jean-Mermoz
14640 Villers-sur-Mer
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32 bis avenue Michel d'Ornano
14910 Blonville-sur-Mer
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40 rue du Général Leclerc
14113 Villerville
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20 Place Lemercier
14800 Toques
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Louis Delamare Promenade
(behind the aid station)
14800 Tourgeville
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