One of Normandy’s Biggest Shopping Centres Opens in Cherbourg

slide3After two years of work Cherbourg’s new flagship shopping centre has opened with demand expected to be high this holiday weekend at what is one of the biggest shipping outlets in Normandy.

There were crowds waiting outside the Les Eléis centre when it opened its doors on Thursday morning but some were left disappointed as not all the shops were ready.

At 9am hundreds of young people waited outside H&M for another two hours for this particular outlet to be ready. Go Sport, one of the biggest shops in the centre, was also not ready.

Other popular brands such New Yorker, Bonobo and Kaporal were open but work was continuing in a number of outlets. There are also a variety of eating outlets including SushiShop, Petit Jean and Subway and Carrefour supermarket.

According to Gilles Salzman, director of the centre, its two storey car park filled up quickly. ‘It looks likely we will be very popular with teenagers and younger people. For a moment it was like going to Disneyland,’ he said.

It has taken 10 years for the €80 million project to be realised from when it was first muted. Some 300 jobs have been created at the centre which now covers 30,000 square meters with free parking for 1,050 vehicles.

Cherbourg mayor Jean-Michel Houllegatte has backed the project, saying that it has helped to regenerate the centre of the town. ‘We are now in the 21st century. People nowadays want to do all their shopping in one place in a town centre. The aim has been to modernise and make our town more dynamic,’ he explained.

But some local shop keepers have been less keen, worried that the big names will take shoppers away from more traditional shops. A bridge connecting the shopping centre to the other shopping area of smaller shops has not yet been built but Mr Houllegatte said it will be done by the end of the year.

While the gigantic shopping centre might but other outlets into shadow for a few month Céline Dutheil, coordinator of the Office for commerce and artisans, does not think this will last for long. ‘Curiosity might push shoppers towards the new centre but it is an opportunity for smaller shops to evolve and become a compliment to the giants rather than rivals,’ she said.

The opening of the shopping centre is part of a major remodelling of Cherbourg town centre which will continue into 2015 with concrete being replaced by glass, plants and trees. As well as the pedestrian walkway joining the new centre with the older part of the town, work is also being done on modernising Place de Gaulle and the Rue de Val de Saire. The Rue des Tribunaux is being remodelled as a meeting place with traffic speeds reduced to 20 kph and other roads being spruced up.

About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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