Boulogne-sur-Mer

France

Boulogne-sur-Mer is a coastal city in Northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department of Pas-de-Calais. Boulogne lies on the Côte d’Opale, a touristic stretch of French coast on the English Channel between Calais and Normandy, and the most visited location in the region after Lille conurbation. It is also the country’s largest fishing port, specialising in herring.

CountryFrance
RegionHauts-de-France
DepartmentPas-de-Calais
CantonBoulogne-sur-Mer-1 and 2
Government
 Mayor (2020–2026)Frédéric Cuvillier
Area18.42 km2 (3.25 sq mi)
Population (2017-01-01)40,874
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)

Geography

Location

Boulogne-sur-Mer is in Northern France, at the edge of the Channel and in the mouth of the river “Liane”.

Boulogne is a relatively important city of the North, exercising an influence on the “Boulonnais” territory (74 towns and villages which surround Boulogne). The coast consists of important tourist natural sites, like the capes Gris Nez and Blanc Nez (which are the closest points of France to England), and attractive seaside resorts like Wimereux, Wissant, Hardelot and Le Touquet. The hinterland is mainly rural and agricultural.

Town planing

The city is divided into several parts :

  • City centre : groups historic and administrative buildings, and also accommodations, stores, banks, churches, pedestrian streets and places.
  • Fortified town : old-town where are a lot of historic monuments (the castle-museum, the basilica, the belfry, the imperial palace) and also the city hall and the courthouse.
  • Gambetta-Sainte-Beuve : tourist area situated in the northwest of the city, on the edge of the beach and the recreational harbour.
  • Capécure : economic and industrial area, situated in the west of the city, around the harbour.
  • Saint-Pierre (Saint Peter) : former neighborhood of the fishermen, destroyed during World War II and reconstructed after.
  • Chemin Vert (Green path) : zone created in the 1950s, knowing today poverty and unemployment.
  • Dernier Sou (Last penny) : residential area situated in the east of the city.
  • Beaurepaire (Beautiful hideout) : residential area situated in the north of the city.
  • Bréquerecque : residential area situated in the south of the city.
Fortified town

Economy

Boulogne-sur-Mer is an important fishing port, with 7,000 inhabitants deriving part, or all, of their livelihoods from fishing.

IFREMER (the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) and the Pasteur Institute are located in Boulogne Port.

Certain brands, including Crown and Findus, have regional offices in Boulogne.

Transport

Boulogne is close to the A16 motorway (Paris-Amiens-Calais-Dunkerque). Metropolitan bus services are operated by “Marinéo”. The company Flixbus propose a bus line connecting Paris to Boulogne. There are coach services to Calais and Dunkerque.

The city has railway stations, which the most important is Boulogne-Ville station, located in the south of the city. Boulogne-Tintelleries station is used by regional trains. It is located near the university and the city centre.

Education

Boulogne-sur-Mer hosts one of the oldest Universités de l’été – summer courses in French language and culture. It is known as the Université d’été de Boulogne-sur-Mer.

The Saint-Louis building of the University of the Côte d’Opale’s Boulogne campus opened its doors in 1991. Its 6 major specialisms are Modern Languages, French Literature, Sport, Law, History and Economics. The university is situated in the town centre, about 5 minutes from the Boulogne Tintelleries railway station.

University

  • Campus University of the Littoral Opal Coast (Saint-Louis, Grand-Rue and Capérure site), member of Université Lille Nord de France.

Public primary and secondary

  • High schools : Lycée Auguste Mariette, Edouard Branly, Cazin (professional).
  • College : College Langevin, Angelier, Daunou.

Private primary and secondary

  • High schools: Lycée Nazareth, Haffreingue, Saint-Joseph
  • College: College Godefroy de Bouillon, Haffreingue, Nazareth, Saint-Joseph

Health

Two health centres are located in Boulogne, the public Hospital Duchenne and the private Clinique de la côte d’opale.

Culture

  • The Château de Boulogne-sur-Mer (now a castle museum).
  • La Casa San Martin is currently a museum.
  • The Boulognais and Latino/Ibero-American culture.
  • Nausicaä, the French national sealife centre.

Sights

Boulogne’s 12th-century belfry is one of 56 listed Belfries of Belgium and France, all in northeastern France and Belgium, with shared World Heritage Site status. It is the oldest building in the upper city of Boulogne, and currently serves as the home to a museum of Celtic remains from the Roman occupation.

Other than the belfry there are also the following sights:

  • Medieval walls 1,500 metres long, with 4 gates and 17 towers from the 13th century.
  • Medieval castle.
  • Gothic church of St Nicholas, housing several 15th-century statues
  • Cathedral basilica of Notre-Dame.
  • Opened in 1991, Nausicaä – The French National Sea Centre.
  • The Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, created during the Great War.
  • Colonne de la Grande Armée – Statue of Napoleon I.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne towers over the city

Gastronomy

As an international maritime port on the English Channel (La Manche), the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer has European and American influences in local cuisine. They include:

  • Welsh rarebit (from Wales, United Kingdom)
  • Sandwich américain (an American sandwich introduced from the USA)
  • Kipper (Flemish: smoked herring)

Sports

Boulogne’s football club, US Boulogne Côte d’Opale (US refers to Union Sportive), is one of the oldest in France due to the city’s proximity to England, founded in 1898. The club currently play in the third tier, the Championnat National.

Basketball teams in Boulogne include Stade Olympique Maritime Boulonnais and ESSM Le Portel of Pro A.

Contact

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER
email
mairie@ville-boulogne-sur-mer.fr
address
Place Godefroy de Bouillon
phone
03 21 87 80 80