Places to visit | Local area map | rail travel*
* bus to/from Berck meets trains at Rang du Fliers station

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Charles Roussel (1861-1936) : "Retour de Pêche au manquereau" - in Berck Municipal Museum

Fishermen and artists
19th century Berck was a fishing village which attracted artists to come to live and work here, inspired by the special quality of the light along the Côte d'Opale,and by the colour and vitality of the local fishing community and life by the seaside.

Sea-air as a health cure
In the mid-19th century Cholera epidemics which afflicted the speading cities of Europe, Berck gained a reputation for the healthy benefits of exposure to sea air and sea-bathing from its wide sandy beaches, facing the bracing Channel breezes.


Old photos:
1. fishing boats anchored on the open sandy beach at low tide. Berck has no harbour. 2. Fresh fish market with rows of fishermen's handcarts.

"Marianne Toute-Seule"

"Marianne Toute-Seule"
In the 1850's a grieving widow offered sick children a chance of a seaside cure in Berck. Her husband, a local doctor, and 4 children had died in a cholera epedemic. The children were recommended by a doctor in Montreuil, and it was noticed that children sent to Berck recovered more quickly - especially those with bone diseases like rickets.

Soon other invalids were being sent to benefit from the sea air and sea-bathing as a cure. In 1869, Napoleon III's wife, Empress Eugénie, opened the big Maritime Hospital which still overlooks the sea like a huge barracks with iron balconies. Other "medical" institutes followed. The town mushroomed from 2,000 to11,600 inhabitants by 1911. It has trams, a theatre, running water, electricity, telephones - all the facilities of a thriving seaside resort.

Miners enjoyed seaside holidays in huts on the wild dunes at Berck

Miners' Holiday Resort
After the First World War, when poor miners began to have holidays, many came to Berck. They poured down by train (for a day-trip or a week's stay) from the black mining towns of the north, and stayed in cheap accommodation near the sand-dunes. Berck's image changed. It became like Blackpool - a brash, fun resort for working families, very different to posh Le Touquet just up the coast.

Annual international kite-flying festival: see spectaclar kites flying on the beach

Fun seaside resort
Today there are no miners, but Berck has the largest amusement park, "Bagatelle" (just outside the town), and a seafront along which they sell the French equivalent of candy-floss, icecream, buckets-and-spades, bingo, and beer....

It's a family seaside resort south of Boulogne, with a good clean beach and excellent children's facilities - including AGORA, an all-weather water leisure centre. The wide flat sandy beaches provide an excellent space for flying kites and racing sand-yachts.

You can visit "Berck Success" and see sweets and lollies being hand-made using traditional recipes - and buy as many as you like in the factory shop!

1. AGORA swimming pool & leisure centre. 2. "Berck Success" - small sweet factory

Web links and more information

Local area map:
Click on places for more information

Places to Visit:
AGORA - all-weather water sports, Berck
Bagatelle - amusement park near Berck
Municipal Museum - Berck
AQUALUD - water leisure centre, le Touquet
Coastal footpath - long-distance path around the coast to Berck via Dunkerque - Calais- Boulogne

Background Information:

KID Stations - children's facilities
Sugar confectionery & chocolate
Artists of the Côte d'Opale
Seaside holidays
Coal-mining in North France

Why not try this newfeature?
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QUICK TOUR round the Côte d'Opale, starting with Nausicaa...
Le Touquet



Montreuil Last updated 29th September 2001 © Copyright Invicta Media 1999-2001