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You must visit Pas-de-Calais, Boulogne-sur-mer, France

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added on 13th of June, 2009


Situated in northern France, in the district Pas-de-Calais, just 145 Km from Lille (by car), this “tres merveilleux” town is an open port to the English Channel, even since Antiquity and can be formally separated into three parts: the upper town, the lower town and the port. From an roman colony used to invade Britain, to the medieval fortress that saw both war and peace (The Peace of Boulogne in 1550 ended the war between England with Scotland and France. France bought Boulogne for 400,000 crowns.), advancing to the 17 and 18 centuries when this city crystallize it’s today appearance (mayor Muriont had a large contribution), passing the 19th century marked by a rapid development that leaded the way of reaching over 50,000 inhabitants, the second world war came with the almost total destruction, mainly the port area. Everything was rebuild, starting from the center, symbolized by the four buildings of the Gambetta quay.

How to get there

Boulogne it’s rather a small city, especially in French standards, having around 45,000 inhabitants nowadays. This though, doesn’t make the city less accessible. By car, there are two major highways that connect this small town to virtually any place in France and not only. A16 connects Boulogne-sur-Mer to the capital Paris, while A16 is the best connection with Lille and Bruxelles. By train (TER), it takes roughly 2 hours from Lille, which by the fact that is a major European train Node, represents a connection with a lot of other big cities. It takes about three hours to get to London, by TGV, the same amount of time it also takes to Amsterdam. With TGV it takes just two hours between Paris and Boulogne, via Lille. Because Calais, the largest port in the area is just 35 Km away, Boulogne is easy connected with the England port Dover and from there with the rest of the Britain. In fact, don’t be surprised to see a lot of Englishmen tourists in Boulogne. A new ferry terminal will be completed in Boulogne in July 2009, an achievement that will directly connect Boulogne to Britain land.

What to see there

Simply saying, the whole city deserves to be visited, starting from the golden beach up to the Notre-Dame Church.

The Château de Boulogne-sur-Mer is a castle that was turn into a museum with outstanding collections from different cultures: ancient Egypt, Eskimos, ancient Greece, South Sea Islands - and also French historical collections. Here you can see the second largest collection of Greek ceramics in France, after the Louvre.

Place Dalton contains also the Saint Nicolas Church and in the square there are often events, like this year‘s Fete de la mer.

The Notre Dame Cathedral it’s really imposing and rises well above other buildings in the city. There is no entrance fee to go inside and see it, and the interior matches the beauty of its exterior. This Cathedral has the second biggest dome in Europe, after the Saint Peter’s Church in Rome.

The Upper City (Ville Haut) it’s like a city on top of another city, and the view on the sea and on the port is really magnificent.

Naussica it’s a three hour lesson about the relationship between Mankind and the Sea. It houses Aquaria, exhibitions on the marine fauna, and the exploitation and management of marine resources (fisheries, aquaculture, coastal planning, and maritime transport, exploitation of energies and mineral, tourism). The tank with sharks is definitely the one of most fill with adrenaline places you’ll be. There is only a glass between you and those mighty creatures. The tickets are a bit expensive, about 17 euros bought at the place and 14.90 bought online, with 12 euros for students. It is opened every day from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM (during the months of July and August the closing time is 7:30 PM). Tickets purchased 2 hours before closing are valid until noon on the following day.

Things about Boulogne-sur-mer you may be interested in

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The return - overview

1. May 29, 2009 My travel back to Lille (Lille)
2. May 31, 2009 You must visit Pas-de-Calais (Boulogne-sur-mer)  (* 43)
3. Jun 2, 2009 One-day trip in Brussels (Brussels)  (* 78)
4. Jun 3, 2009 On the way back home through Charleroi (Charleroi)  (* 81)

Start from beginning1 - 4          Journal overview


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