Places to visit | Where to eat | Local area map | rail travel | MULTIMAP


 Boulogne's Old Town, built within the original Roman walls, and recently well-restored and regenerated. The rue de Lille (above) leads from the Cathedral, and is lined with good restaurants vying for the custom of visitors.

Down by the river, Boulogne's fishing port still bustles despite European-imposed fishing quotas. Above: unloading the fish catch ready to sell at the quayside fish market

At Nausicaa sea-life centre by the harbour, find out about the marine environment - and man's impact on it.

France's biggest fishing port
Boulogne at the mouth of the river Liane is France's biggest fishing port. It has been an important town and port since Roman times, when it was the main link for trade and military movements between Roman Gaul and Britain.

Medieval town
Later medieval Counts of Boulogne built a castle on one corner of the old Roman fortifications, and the Old Town grew up within the Roman walls. By the river, the Lower Town grew as a port and fishing village within the protective shadow of the château.

English king Henry VIII besieged and briefly captured Boulogne from his base in Calais. His stone cannon balls can still be seen in the crypt of the Cathedral.

In the upheavals of the French revolution, the Cathedral was destroyed.

The town was Napoleon's base as he prepared for invasion of England in 1802-5. His army built a monument on their campsite outside the own in his honour - a column, with Napoleon's statue on top, originally looking out across the Channel to the land he planned to capture.

Seaside visitors
After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the French monarchy came back to their throne. English people could again visit Boulogne, amongst English painter Turner who left many sketches and watercolours of seascapes, sunsets and scenes of fisher-folk around the coast.

The Catholic Church decided to rebuild the Cathedral bigger and better as a symbol - it took amost 40 years (1827-1866). The crypt of the older cathedral was preserved.

Later in the middle of the 19th century it began a long rivalry with Calais to develop the cross-Channel ferry trade. The Folkestone- Boulogne route was developed by steamships operated by the English railway company, South Eastern Railways - which owned the port of Folkestone. They ran connecting train-ship-train services between London and Paris, aimed at wealthy travellers.

At the present time, most of the ferries run the slightly shorter route between Dover and Calais - Boulogne has been abandoned by the major ferry operators in their battle with the tunnel.

It is France's biggest fishing port, with a big fish market.

Seaside resort
Boulogne is still an attractive seaside resort, with Nausicaa, the world-class sea-life centre; sandy beaches and good facilities for children (recognised as a "KID Station").

Char-a-voile on the beach 
"Char-a-voile" - a sail-carting club for children on the beach. Hire and lessons available.

Web links and more information
Tourist information - OFFICE DE TOURISME:
24, quai Gambetta, 62203 - Boulogne-sur-Mer Cedex
Tél. 00.33 (0) - Fax 00.33. (0)
e-mail : [email protected]
Historic Fortifications Network:

Local area map:

Click on places for more information

Download & print out:
Town map with parking
Brief description
Places to visit
List of restaurants
List of hotels

Click for TOWN GUIDE

Where to eat in Boulogne - we recommend:
Aux Pêcheurs d'Etaples - seafood restaurant in the Old Town [see also TOWN GUIDE]
Nausicaa Restaurant - Boulevard Sainte Beuve, by beach and port

Places to visit
Boulogne Cathedral - and more about the walled Old Town.
Nausicaa - world-class sea-world & marine environmental education centre
Hélicéa - magnificent state-of-the-art swimming pool and ice-skating rink
Boulonnais Nature Park - the hills around Boulogne, and coastal area between the two Caps
BECASUC - sweet factory
Château-Musée - medieval chateau and old town walls
la Colonne de la Grande Armée - memorial to Napoleon's plans to invade England
MAREIS - interactive exhibition about working fishermen, Etaples
Maison du Marbre - museum of marble & geology, near the quarries of Marquise
Traditional boulangerie - near Hardelot
Club Nautique, Wimereux; Other sailing schools
Sandyachts - learn to zoom along the beach!
Coastal footpath - long-distance path around the coast to Berck via Dunkerque - Calais- Boulogne
Aréna - Sand dunes study centre nr. Hardelot

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Background information


Artists of the Côte d'Opale
Churches in Nord-PasdeCalais
History of Channel Ferries

Relations with England
Seaside holidays
Sports and outdoor leisure facilities




Wimereux © Copyright Invicta Media 1999-2007 Last updated 18th April 2005, 4th September 2007