La tour de la Hougue
Fortifications of Vauban


Coastal observation towers

During each of his visits, Vauban described the harbour of Saint-Vaast as the "best and most secure in the kingdom" with natural protection from the Isle of Tatihou.

However, the Cotentin coast remained vulnerable because of its prominent position facing England. The need to protect it turned out to be crucial after the battle of the Hougue, in June 1692, when Louis XIV‘s ships were defeated by the Anglo-Dutch fleet. Therefore, in 1694, Vauban called for the urgent construction of two towers which would protect the anchorage of ships by means of cross fire.

Work started under the orders of the engineer de Combes. These tapered towers, 20 metres high, are distinguished by their many different functions: for observation, firing out to sea and communication by signals and are a fine example of Vauban’s military engineering. They were planned to be self-sufficient, with cisterns and magazines, to enable between 40 and 80 men to withstand a siege.

Up until the Second World War, these towers were integrated into different fortified ensembles on this coast. Today, the Isle of Tatihou is an environmental showcase, managed by the Manche General Council and houses a maritime museum. The Hougue tower has been open to the public since 2008; the signal station remains a national Marine property.

Inscribed Property
coastal observation towers of the Hougue and Tatihou
Outstanding Universal Value
third type of Vauban sea tower, after the compact fort (Fort Pâté de Blaye/Cussac-Fort-Médoc) and the low battery tower (Camaret-sur-Mer)
Date of construction
between 1694 and 1699
between 0 and 65 ft
GPS coordinates
49.579345, -1.254933
  • Les tours de la Hougue et de Tatihou vues du ciel
    The towers of La Hougue and Tatihou seen from the sky
  • La tour de Tatihou
    The tower of Tatihou
  • La tour de la Hougue
    The Hougue tower
  • La tour de Tatihou
    The tower of Tatihou
  • La tour de la Hougue
    The Hougue tower

Journées européennes du patrimoine

Les 16 & 17 septembre 2023, les douze fortifications de Vauban inscrites sur la Liste du patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO vous proposent de nombreux événements. Découvrez-les vite !

Tourist information

Office de tourisme de Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue
1, place du Général de Gaulle
50550 Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue
Phone number: +33 2 33 71 99 71

Ile Tatihou – Musée maritime
B.P 3
Phone number: +33 2 14 29 03 30

How to visit / Access

Visit of the island Tatihou
Free access on foot at low tide or by amphibious boat at high and low tide.

Visit of the Hougue tower
In June: every weekend and public holidays
In July, August and September: every day (except Monday and Tuesday) from 1.30 to 6.30 pm
Guided tours on reservation.