Gouville-sur-Mer, a seaside village on the Cotentin peninsula in the Manche department of Normandy, is known for its beautiful uncrowded beach, its fresh sea oysters, and the local lighthouse that faces the island of Jersey across the channel. But the most unique aspect of this little resort town may be the rows of wonderfully colorful bathing huts nestled in the sand dunes.
There are about 70 of these tiny cabins situated at the top of the beach, separated from the sea by the dunes. The brightly colored red, blue, green, and yellow roofs peek out from the grassy dunes, adding an almost whimsical pop of color to the landscape.
The huts were originally built in the early 1900s when sea bathing was the current fashion. Bathing in the sea became trendy in the 19th century as people believed the salt water had health benefits. The fad gave rise to swimwear, and small bathing huts or “bathing boxes” began popping up along bathing beaches for people to change into their swimming suit and take shelter from the sun.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were about a dozen huts on the Gouville beach. At the time, the local hotel would offer guests rides down to the beach in a horse-drawn carriage, where they had access to the bathing huts. Today the cabins are privately owned, but their colorful roofs remain an iconic part of the landscape.
Know Before You Go
The cabins are located along the southern section of the Gouville beach, Cabines des Bains. To get there, take Dunes Road from the central beach.