Boulogne-sur-Mer: Historical city on your doorstep

Boulogne-sur-Mer is well-known for its Castle-Museum, fortified city and ramparts, but it is also a place filled with hidden treasures…

Boulogne-sur-Mer is well-known for its Castle-Museum, fortified city and ramparts, but it is also a place filled with hidden treasures…

At the end of September Heritage Days will offer visitors a chance to discover the lesser-known historical wonders of Boulogne-sur-Mer, with visits to sites that aren’t always accessible to the public.

Some of the most surprising elements of the city’s rich, eventful past can be found underground. Underneath the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Boulogne, the Crypt’s treasure chamber houses objects of great historical and religious significance. Amongst the statues, chalices and portraits of Bishops you’ll find the Reliquary of the Holy Blood, which was brought from Jerusalem by Godefroy de Bouillon.

A highly strategic site, Boulogne-sur-Mer still bears the traces of two imperial visits: from Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte. Both used the city as a base for their planned invasions of England. Only Caesar was successful. There is still much evidence of the 180,000 grognards, Napoleon's soldiers who once gathered here, including forts, the poudriere (explosives storage) and the Column of the Grand Army. The marks left by the Roman Army are further deep, beneath the Castle Museum.

From the top of the city ramparts, you can take in the whole city as it stretches out before you. This is one of the best ways to appreciate all Boulogne-sur-Mer has to offer: the port, Place Dalton, Casa San Martin and the statue of Auguste Mariette, curiously situated atop a pyramid.

At the Castle Museum, you can explore the extraordinary life and adventures of Boulogne-sur-Mer native, Auguste Mariette, the Egyptologist who founded the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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Be sure to visit 105 Grande Rue where you will learn the story of General Jos� San Martin, the liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru who spent his final years here.

Even at night when the Cathedral dome and belfry glow in the flattering rays of the projectors, the city of Boulogne-sur-Mer is still waiting to be explored.

Heritage Days 18-19 September