Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer – The Good Life France | EUROtoday

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Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer

Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer on the Opal Coast of Pas-de-Calais. This historic metropolis is house to France’s greatest fishing port. It’s additionally the place you will discover the largest aquarium in Europe. The city’s lovely domed Basilica (which bears a placing resemblance to St Paul’s Cathedral in London) boasts one of many longest crypts in France. Julius Caesar took off from the shores of Boulogne-sur-Mer to invade England in 55BC. Napoleon mustered an Armada for a similar goal centuries later. The historical past of Boulogne-sur-Mer is lengthy and wealthy. Brimming with tradition, teeming with fabulous eating places – this can be a metropolis that is simply made for exploring and falling in love with…

Historic previous city

Gate to the Castle of Boulogne-sur-Mer

Looking like one thing out of a movie set, Boulogne-sur-Mer’s Ville Haute is a wonderfully preserved medieval metropolis atop a hill. It’s winding cobbled streets are topped by a 13th century citadel, now a advantageous museum, constructed by a rely nicknamed “the prickly bastard” – he apparently had spiky hair and he was the illegitimate son of son of King Philip II, the primary French monarch to name himself King of France (earlier than that they had been known as Kings of the Franks).

Though the present chateau was constructed through the medieval interval, its foundations date again to Roman occasions, and it was strengthened by Louis XIV’s navy engineer the good Vauban within the 17th century. Napoleon III was imprisoned right here in 1840. After WWI the physique of the British Unknown Soldier lay right here in state on the way in which to be buried in Westminster Abbey. Now it homes an eclectic assortment of artworks and artifacts together with historical Egyptian and a Greek ceramics assortment which is crucial in France outdoors of Paris.

There are boulevard broad, walkable ramparts which can be peppered with seventeen towers. From Gayette tower, close to the Porte des Dunes, you will spot a plaque devoted to Pilatre de Rozier, who made the primary manned free flight in a Montgolfier balloon over Paris. In 1785 he made an try to cross the Channel from Boulogne’s ramparts to the English coast. He was not profitable and is buried at Wimille somewhat method across the coast.

Restaurants line the streets of the old town in Boulogne-sur-Mer

Bars and eating places galore line the streets, alongside quirky boutiques and historic retailers.

If you have got a head for heights, climb the UNESCO listed Belfry which dates again to the twelfth century. There are round 120 steps going proper to the highest from the place there are gorgeous views over town. The tower accommodates a museum of Celtic stays courting from the Roman occupation of the City and a number of other massive cannon balls fired on town by Henry VIII in 1544. The inhabitants resisted his advances and closed Porte de Dégrés, the gate to the previous metropolis, and it stayed that method till 1895!

Notre-Dame Basilica

Basilica of Boulogne-sur-Mer

The Basilica of Notre-Dame within the previous city is astonishing. Built on the positioning of different church buildings courting to AD636, it would not matter what your beliefs are, this place is exclusive, uncommon and totally fascinating. Taking a pinch from Rome’s Pantheon, London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and Les Invalides in Paris it was designed by a priest with no architectural expertise – and it’s magnificent, miraculous even.

There is a brass hand within the church and guests are invited to position their arms over it and pray for a miracle. Inside it’s a sliver of wooden mentioned to come back from a statue of the Virgin Mary which, legend claims, was pushed ashore at Boulogne-sur-Mer by Angels.

In 1477, Louis XI declared it a “true Madonna”. The prized relic introduced pilgrims and Kings to the city. Alas the statue was destroyed within the French Revolution, solely the picket shard stays. The partitions of the church are adorned with plaques despatched by those that prayed right here and had been granted their want. The dome and frescoes have undergone 4 years of restoration work are as soon as once more seen – and delightful. And work has additionally been undertaken to revive the decorations of the façade.

The crypt is astonishing, and large. In reality, it is one of many greatest in France at over 100m lengthy and really lovely. Decorated in Romanesque type, the partitions are coated with frescoes and there are valuable relics on show. It was right here that Edward II of England married Isabelle of France on 25 January 1308. Their son Edward III later began the 100 years’ struggle.

The decrease city

Boulogne-sur-Mer spreads across the base of the higher city all the way in which right down to advantageous sandy seashores the place you may take pleasure in water sports activities or just loosen up and watch the tide go out and in. It was as soon as a favourite seashore of the British and within the 1700’s hordes flocked to Boulogne to benefit from the sea air. If the tide is out, wander to the Napoleonic fort on the seashore at Le Portel and acquire mussels to your dinner because the locals have for hundreds of years.

The decrease city isn’t any much less fascinating than it is excessive up cousin. Casa San Martin in Grande Rue is the previous house of Argentinian-born General José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras. Better generally known as José de San Martín, he liberated Argentina (1816), Chile (1817) and Peru (1812) from Spanish rule and is taken into account the “Father of Argentina”. He lived in right here from 1848 till his demise in 1850. Today it is a captivating museum and a spot that honors his reminiscence.

The streets are lined with eating places, brasseries and bistros a lot of which serve probably the most delicious and recent fish dishes together with the native specialty herring (learn in regards to the well-known historic herring smokehouses of Boulogne-sur-Mer). For a style of genuine Boulogne-sur-Mer, head to legendary Le Chatillon within the Capécure fishing district. Here you will rub shoulders with fishermen, port employees and sailors (from 04.30am). Decked out to seem like a ship with wooden paneled partitions, ships lamps and sails on the ceiling, the restaurant is known for its “Parillada”, blended grilled fish and seafood marinated in garlic and olive oil.

On Saturdays the morning market at Place Dalton is buzzing, and you’ll store till you drop for all method of issues from covetable wicker baskets to the freshest greens and extra. (There’s additionally a smaller market on Wednesday mornings). Meanwhile if you happen to’re a cheese head, nip to Philippe Olivier’s well-known fromagerie, simply comply with your nostril as this store shares all of your smelly favorites!


Large tank at Nausicaa, Europe's biggest aquarium

Nausicaa, the National Sea middle of France is listed by UNESCO as a “Center of Excellence”. One of the biggest aquariums on the planet, it additionally boasts the biggest aquatic tank in Europe – holding 10,000m³ of water, sufficient to fill 4 Olympic swimming swimming pools. You can stroll proper as much as tank and are available nose to nose with shark, manta rays and shoals of fish. It’s surprisingly stress-free and hypnotic. There are virtually 60,000 creatures, 1,600 species, dwelling within the enormous underwater world of Nausicaa, in addition to a number of above water too – together with penguins, sealions, big turtles and crocodiles.

Climb Napoleon’s column

Napoleon's Column, Boulogne-sur-Mer

Napoleon Bonaparte spent three years in Boulogne planning an invasion of England. He stayed in a mansion known as the Imperial Palace, which now hosts exhibitions and cultural occasions, on the Place Godefroy de Bouillon (named after a neighborhood lord who departed from the port of Boulogne in 1096 to steer the primary Crusade and was made King of Jerusalem ).

Napoleon constructed 2000 boats and was so positive of success he had a victory column erected. On 16 August 1804 the Emperor awarded the Legion of Honor to 2 thousand troopers. The troopers determined to erect a marble column at their very own expense to commemorate these occasions. His ambitions did not go to plan, however the colonnade stays, topped by a statue of the Emperor. You can climb the 263 stairs for a superb view throughout the Channel with the White Cliffs of Dover clearly seen on a advantageous day. A brief stroll away, a stone marks the spot the place Napoleon issued the primary Legion d’Honneur, in reality 2000 of them, sat on a throne, surrounded by 100,000 troopers.

Check out the little museum on the base of the Column which is filled with fascinating paperwork, medals and the unique Napoleon statue which was broken by bombs in WWII.

The House of Beurière

Step again in time at an genuine historical mariner’s cottage. Climb the steps up the rue du Machicoulis, close to Nausicaa, and you will find a fisherman’s nineteenth century home that is furnished, and with employees wearing costume. A style of previous Boulogne.

One-time resident Charles Dickens mentioned of Boulogne: “If this were but 300 miles farther off, how the English would rave about it!”

Stop off on this historic city and you may quickly discover out that there is loads to rave about right here.

Discover extra about Bolougne, from the right way to spend a day, quick break and procuring:

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Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer