Ducey, Ville Étape. A town in the heart of the lower part of Manche. Integral to pilgrimage history and le Mont Saint Michel.
Ducey, Ville Étape
I little ways inland from my favourite spot, the bay of Le-Mont-Saint-Michel, around 10 miles, you’ll find the village étape of Ducey. The town itself is relatively small, and has the usual small-town shops and atmosphere, except for the distinct chateau and gardens and a couple of beautiful bridges.
As with all communes in Normandy, they have a wealth of history stretching back around a thousand years. Ducey is not a stranger to this. Ducey’s namesake, William of Ducey (Guillaume de Ducey) traces his roots to Ducey in the 12th century. Being a part of the 1066 norman invasion, William was granted the land, and then a wooden castle, of Ducey. There is not much noted down between this date and 1418, when Henry V of England seizes Norman lands after the famous battle of Agincourt. Relinquishing norman control of the small town to William Nessefeld. It’s not until 1521 that modern-day Ducey starts to take its shape. the Duchy of Ducey is married into the Montgomery family around this time, this family would be in control of the town until 1721.
The Ducey’s are known in French history due to their misfortune. During the 16th Century, Gabriel, the first official Montgomery of Ducey fatally wounded King Henry II in a tournament held in July of 1559. Henry II would die of his wounds, branding the Ducey’s name with regicide. His son, Gabriel II is responsible for the chateau you see today, or the remains of it. In the 19th century, the Sémale family took ownership of the Chateau. But were later found out to be in hiding.
The Chateau is open to visitors in the summer months. Tickets are a very nice price of €5-6 depending on if you want a day tour or a night tour. The gardens are open year-round and host interesting artworks throughout the year.
The older of the two bridges date back to the 17th century. A pilgrimage route to Le-Mont-Saint-Michel. As you can see from the previous photo, it’s definitely an Instagram-worthy bridge.
The church in Ducey is pretty impressive. Saints-Pères is a catholic church full of amazing art and sculpture. The outside is also unusual due to the bell tower being separate from the main entity of the church.
Ducey is not a very touristic town. It’s pretty small and is notable as a stopover town due to its proximity to large tourist attractions and the motorway. This does not mean you shouldn’t visit it though, as Ducey takes pride in its appearance. You may have noticed some french towns have signs with flowers on them. These are signs given by Villes et Villages Fleuris. A label given to towns that have gardens and green spaces, strive to be committed to sustainability, are open and friendly, and overall look good. This is done by planting flowers, having hanging baskets, and keeping clean and green. Ducey has a 3-flower rating, meaning it’s pretty high up on the Villes et Villages Fleuris list.
To enjoy the best of the flowers in town there is a loop walk that guides you around the town, packed with fun information and history to keep the walk exciting. The start of the walk is by the tourism office, opposite the iconic chateau.
The shopping is very independent and local based, but the shops are pretty good! There is even a very good antiques brocante. If you are in the market for some classic french furniture and decoration!
So when are you going to visit?
Next time you visit France and you see signs for a Ville or village étape, check it out.
If you missed my last living in Normandy posts, find there here: