Boulogne sur mer and the Boulonnais region

Boulogne is steeped in two thousand years of history...Two thousand years whose memories have left their marks on stones, are evoked in the little streets of the Old Town and show their face in the museums.

A highly strategic site, Boulogne sur Mer still beats traces of two imperial visits : from Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte. Both had designs on conquering England, but, although the Roman troops managed to reach the English coast, Napoleon's army wasn't so lucky. There is still evidence of the 180,000 grognards (Napoleon's soldiers) that one gathered here : the stele of the legion d'honneur, the column of the Great Army, the forts and the Poudriere (explosive magazine). But it is underground that one finds the marks left by the roman empire : right underneath the Castle-Museum. The few pages of history unearthed down here arouse curiosity and spur one on to keep reading this fascinating adventure over ground. Armed with a map of the town, go up the flight of steps taking you to the top of the ramparts, in the hope of finding a few extra pieces to the puzzle of the region's past. From there, the whole town spreads out before your very eyes : the port, Place Dalton (where local produce markets take place every Wednesday and Saturday morning), Casa San Martin and the Statue of Auguste Mariette at the top of a pyramid... So many enigmas! At the castle-museum, you will learn about the extrordinary life and journey from Boulogne-sur-mer to the Saqqara plateau of Auguste Mariette. Becoming Mariette Pacha, an egyptian civil servant, he founded the famous museum in Cairo amoung other achievements. Now, head to 105 Grande Rue where you discover that G�n�ral Jos� San Martin liberated Argentina, Chile and Peru between 1816 and 1821 and spent his final years right here. Night falls and the cathedral dome and top of the belfry look resplendent in the flattering rays of the projectors. Don't doubt for a minute that the city has many surprises in store for you... FOCUS ON Notre-Dame, Basilica Visible from the countryside around Boulogne-sur-mer,the dome, as well as the style of the basilica, are inspired by Saint Paul's Cathedral in London and Saint Louis des Invalides in Paris. The basilica was rebuilt on the ruins of the old cathedral (in 1827) to reach its current 101 metres in height : making it an immense sight! Worth seeing: the Torlonia altar, comprising 147 varieties of marble and precious metal, the statue of King David, The Great Organ Case, The Sacred-heart altarpiece, a pulpit of truth and frescoes. The Belfry, city hall A familiar sight in the France Northern towns, this 12th century Belfry is the oldest building in Boulogne-sur-mer. This old romanesque keep, 47 metres tall, is all that remains of the first residence of Count Philippe Hurepel. He sold it to the town's wealthy classes when the castle, built at the eastern corner of the ramparts, was completed. The beneficiaries turned into their belfry, a symbol of the town's communal liberties. The City Hall was added to this oft renovated tower, attesting to the continuing utility of the site, which still remains a certain power. To get more information:[email protected]