Administratively, the island of Chausey is part of the commune of Granville, which includes a small harbour.
There are also some departures to England and to the Channel Islands. However, this traffic is relatively light from Granville, as Saint-Malo and Cherbourg offer better facilities for passenger and cargo traffic.
This part of the Channel is known for its many spread rocks off the coast, not always visible above sea level, and for the dangerous flows caused by the cyclic tide (the bay of Mont Saint-Michel experiences one of the most important tidal ranges in the world, and this causes strong currents that generate dangerous waves orthogonal to the international sea road and to the normal tidal flow that goes along the Channel). The area also experiences recurrent fog alternated with eastward winds creating dangerous storms during autumn and winter.
However, it is regularly affected by pollution caused by modern shipwrecks, or by illegal fuel tank discharges into to the sea. There is now an international agreement between France and the UK, as well as other European countries bordering the Channel, to punish severely the ship-owners when such pollution has been proven. So the area is constantly under surveillance by air and radar, operated by civil and military authorities. The Granville harbour hosts a small maritime emergency rescue team.
Due to the number of rocks and shipwrecks in the area, it is rich in fish and seafood, exploited from the small harbour of Granville. Fishing is dangerous in the area, as many small fishing boats have been involved in collisions with large commercial vessels like container ships and oil supertankers. In a recent event (2005), a British military submarine was suspected to have caused the rapid sinking of a French fishing boat, and most of its crew died.
In 1441, Louis XI granted a charter so that the town once again became French. During the following centuries, Granville was bombarded by the English in 1645 and 1803. Furthermore, the town resisted the attacks of the Huguenots in 1695 and Vendean in 1793.
In October 1793 a force of some 25,000 Vendéan troops (followed by thousands of civilians of all ages), commanded by Henri de la Rochejaquelein, headed for the port of Granville where they expected to be greeted by a British fleet and an army of exiled French nobles. Arriving at Granville, they found the walled city surrounded by Republican forces, with no British ships in sight. Their attempts to take the city were unsuccessful. During the retreat the extended columns fell prey to Republican forces. Suffering from hunger and disease, they died in their thousands.
Granville once formed part of the diocese of Coutances, the Parliament of Rouen and the intendance of Caen. Before the French Revolution, the town had two parishes: L'église Notre-Dame du Cap Lihou and Saint-Nicolas. This parish was an appendix of Notre-Dame until Saint-Nicolas was set up in 1829 whose territory is regarded as a commune independent of Granville.
In 1962, Saint-Nicolas-près-Granville was attached to Granville.
Inside the walls of the upper town are some beautiful houses of which several are concentrated on Rue Saint-Jean.
The ancient church of Notre-Dame du Cap Lihou (1441-1796) which dominates the heights, constitutes an imposing building of the Romanesque style. It was built during the Hundred Years' War out of granite. There is a museum located in one of the gates which preserves invaluable documents enabling visitors to discover the history of the town through the centuries.