The Norman heritage

From the Vikings to today...
Over time...

Normandy conveys a large number of historical and cultural images:
Land of Vikings, William the Conqueror, Impressionism, the Allied landing, etc.

Our territory is full of these traces of the past.

Welcome to Fécamp!

If the Abbey of the Holy Trinity recalls that Fécamp was the capital of the Duchy of Normandy, other buildings recall more recent memories: the port and the cod fishery in Newfoundland, Cape Fagnet and the Atlantic Wall …

Different eras in which the city of Fécamp has been distinguished and developed, taking in its wake the surrounding villages.

Here, we reveal a part of our heritage… The rest will be to discover on the spot !

Do you know

the origins of Fécamp ?

Since the Roman period, a fishing village was created on the heights of the valley. The first inhabitants were the Calets, a Celtic people from “Belgian Gaul” who gave their name to the Caux country. This village takes the name of “fiscannum”: derived from “fisk”, which means fish in old Scandinavian.

Take the road to the lighthouse or the path to the sailors to climb the coast of the Virgin to the top of the cliff. From the top of Cap Fagnet, the panoramic view allows you to take in the shape of the town.


to the Normans

In the 9th century, the city was not spared from Viking raids.

After the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte was concluded in 911, which granted land to the main Viking leader, Rollon, against his promise not to invade the kingdom of the Franks again and to convert to Christianity, the region around Fécamp became an area of massive settlement of the “Northmen”.

Rollon’s descendants become Dukes of Normandy and make Fécamp one of their capitals.

The Duchy

of Normandy

The first wooden ducal residence was built in the 10th century on the site of an ancient monastery devastated by the Vikings. Under the reign of Duke of Normandy Richard II, the City of Fecamp became the Capital of the Duchy and the Duke’s Palace was rebuilt in stone with an enclosure.

The Duke’s Palace would then be attached to the monastery of the Abbey of the Holy Trinity founded in 1001.

A legend tells that the trunk of a fig tree, in which some of Christ’s blood had been hidden, washed up at Fécamp. The relics of this Precious Blood would attract pilgrims in droves and help make this Benedictine abbey the most opulent in Normandy, the origin of the saying, “Whichever way the wind blows, Fécamp Abbey has rent.”

The medieval town was protected by a fortified enclosure, of which the Tour de la Maîtrise remains a witness, as well as vestiges on rue d’Estouteville and rue de la Fontaine.

In 1067, Duke Guillaume Le Conquérant celebrated his victory at the Battle of Hastings (1066) at the Palace of Fécamp, before settling in Caen, the new capital of the duchy.

At the Revolution, the religious community left the abbey for good, which was bought by the City and whose buildings were occupied by the town hall from 1856.

Did you know that?

If from the archaeological point of view, the Vikings have left little trace in Normandy, we recognize their influence in the names of our villages.

Some examples:

  • The term buth (“village”, “hut”) was francized into beuf, an ending that we find in Criquebeuf-en-Caux.
  • Tot, which means “the location”, “the place” tells us about the village of Sassetot-le-Mauconduit.
  • Bec from the place called Bec au Cauchois refers to a “stream” …



The history of Fécamp rests, along with that of the abbey, mainly on that of its port founded around the 11 th century, which will generate both shipbuilding and fishing.

Les boucanes: kezako?

Fecampese term designating the sausage factories, the bucanes marked the urban landscape with their alignment of chimneys… and the smell of smoked fish that came from them!
In these factories, in the industrial era, herring was smoked and worked according to a technique inherited from the Vikings.

During the entire Middle Ages, herring was a real bargaining chip. But with the discovery of the New World, at the end of the 15 th century, the Fecampoise flotilla sailed the oceans. The king fish is then competed by the cod.

Our locations

to discover...
  • Promise yourself rue de Mer and look up: you will still discover those tall chimneys. At number 77, an old boucane opens its doors in November, on the occasion of the Herring Festival, to revive the tradition around the king fish: a trip back in time guaranteed!
  • The Boucane du Grand Quai, next to the Pêcheries, Fécamp’s museum, is a beautiful restored example.
  • Le Bouquet Normand is the last boucane in operation: a must-see to fill your shopping bag with culinary specialties!”


The Herring Festival

In November, the king fish is celebrated all along the Alabaster coast.

Fécamp closes the ball, the last weekend of November. This traditional event, with its entertainment and its village of grinders, highlights the city’s unique maritime heritage.

The great era

of the Newfoundlanders

At the end of the 19 th century, fishing provided a living for a large part of the population. It is even said that for one job at sea, there are four jobs on land: pulpers, riggers, sailmakers, painters, etc.

It is in the shipyards of Fécamp that The Marité, the last of the wooden terre-neuviers still sailing, is built, as well as the famous schooners-training ships of the French Navy l’Etoile and the Belle Poule.

From 1931 onwards, trawlers replaced sailing boats and made Fécamp the capital of the Terre-Neuvas. Cod fishing would continue until the 1970s, when Canada banned access to fishing grounds.

Eager to learn more?

The stores of the Fécamp Intercommunal Tourist Office, thePêcheries, Musée de Fécamp, as well as the Banse Bookstore are full of interesting books on the subject!

Fécamp impressionist

and impressive!

In the late 19th century, Fécamp was at its peak: a flourishing seaport, the town was undergoing an exemplary transformation at that time.

The arrival of the railroad in 1856 made it a fashionable seaside town. The beauty of the coastline attracts writers, such as Guy de Maupassant, as well as impressionist painters: Claude Monet, Jules Noël and Berthe Morisot produced some of their works here, copies of which can be found along the beach, at the very spot where they set down their easels to “paint from the ground up.”

Do you know him?

Camille Albert: the Architect of the city of Fécamp from 1883 to 1903.

An architect known for the construction of the Benedictine palace, Camille Albert also left his mark on various places in the city. Honoring public and private commissions, we owe him – among others – the bourgeois houses in various styles of the Benedictine district, part of the restoration of the Church of St. Stephen, the building of the current Savings Bank and other private mansions.


of the Atlantic Wall

The First World War saw Fécamp become a garrison town for the Belgian army, whose government was exiled to Sainte-Adresse, near Le Havre.

Occupied by the Germans in June 1940, the town hosted an important radar station located at Cap Fagnet and a German military hospital dug into the cliff.

On August 30, 1944, the routed German army destroyed Fécamp’s port facilities.
Fécamp became a national priority for rebuilding port infrastructure.

Good to know

Every year the Archives Heritage Department offers guided tours of the blockhouses and the German military hospital (duration: 2 hours).

These guided tours are called the “39-45 Circuit”

For security and maintenance reasons, these monuments are closed to the public the rest of the year.

Even more curious

of our heritage?

Set sail for

Unique experiences

Site officiel de l’Office de Tourisme intercommunal de Fécamp