The residents are called Granvillais.
Administratively, the island of Chausey, which includes a small harbour, is part of the commune of Granville.
The town was founded in 12th century and was taken several times by the English who fortified it in 1437.
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 the Vendeens in 1793.
In October 1793 a force of some 25,000 Vendéen 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, thousands died. (See Battle of Granville).
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.
On 1905, fashion designer Christian Dior was born in Granville; his childhood home is now a museum.
In 1962, Saint-Nicolas-près-Granville was attached to Granville.