Boulogne-sur-Mer Things to Do

  • View of the Bell Tower from the walls
    View of the Bell Tower from the walls
    by MikeBird
  • Palais de Justice
    Palais de Justice
    by Mikebond
  • Things to Do
    by GrantBoone

Most Recent Things to Do in Boulogne-sur-Mer

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    OLD TOWN SQUARE

    by GrantBoone Written Apr 22, 2013

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    This pretty square in the heart of the old town has small narrow streets branching from it in all directions and the square itself has cafes on all corners ,A beautiful area to sit , have a drink and watch the world go by!

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    Place Dalton and church of St Nicholas

    by GrantBoone Written Apr 22, 2013

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    From the walls of the old town , we walked half way down the hill towards the new town where we stumbled upon the beautiful square with its market stalls and cafes .The church dominates one side of the square and is free to look inside.

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    Basilique Notre Dame

    by GrantBoone Written Apr 22, 2013

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    The Basilique Notre Dame at the top of the hill of the old twon dominates the skyline. We were unlucky on the day beacuse although it is free to enter , there was a private service on during our stay so We couldnt access the dome .

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    Beffroi - inside

    by Mikebond Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Godfrey of Bouillon
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    There are free guided tours of the beffroi in both French and English. I recommend you'd go inside to learn something about Boulogne history that is probably not written in your guidebook. However, you must be aware that there are 183 steps to climb (no lift available).
    At the beginning of the visit you will see this portrait of Godfrey of Bouillon, whose parents were Dukes of Boulogne. Your guide will talk a lot about the Boulogne plan showed in the third picture.
    The bell of the belfry was bigger than it is now. Its weight was reduced from five to four tons (if I remember well) for a decision of Napoleon's. The amount of removed bronze was used to pay the man called to make the bell smaller.
    To see more photos taken inside the beffroi, visit this Travelogue.

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    Beffroi

    by Mikebond Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    belfry
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    Boulogne's belfry is 47 metres high.
    Its construction took place at the end of the 12th century and may be due to Renaud de Dammartin, Count of Boulogne from 1191 to 1214. Originally, it was the donjon of the castle.
    When his successor Philippe Hurepel finished his castle in the Eastern side of the citadelle, he gave the donjon to the town. It's then that it turned into a beffroi.
    The main function of the belfry was to house the bell that marked the events of civil life.
    Its appearance was altered many times in the following centuries.
    If you would like to know more about its long history, you should visit it. There are guided tours for free all the day and the guides will give you exhaustive explanations both in French and in English.
    If you intend to climb to the top of the beffroi, be aware that there are 183 steps and no lift!

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    Château-Musée - overview

    by Mikebond Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the entrance
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    The castle of Boulogne was built by Count Philippe Hurepel. Its construction took place between 1227 and 1231 partly leaning over the 4th-century Roman walls. It was surrounded by a moat and connected to the town by a drawbridge, like a typical medieval castle.
    However, a feature makes it different from Middle Ages castles: it hasn't got a donjon.
    The present appearance comes from major works made by François 1st between 1767 and 1791 when the castle was turned into barracks.
    Today this castle is the best-kept medieval complex in Northern France and houses a great museum as well as temporary exhibitions.

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    Place Dalton & the Food Market

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Cheese please!
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    Place Dalton is a square located in the town centre of Boulogne. It is surrounded by cafes and restaurants, and dominated by the Church of St Nicholas.

    We were very lucky to be there on Saturday when there is a huge food and flower market. The market was excellent! It was filled with locals buying everything from cheese, fruit & veg, roast chickens and bread.

    The biggest queues at the market were to buy from the couple of stalls selling horsemeat. There was also other selling freshly killed quails and rabbits – some that looked so fresh they must have been caught on the way to the market!

    The Church of St Nicholas is worth sticking your head into – you can’t miss it at the northern side of the square. There is no entry charge.

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    Ville Haute – Upper City

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Building in the Ville Haute
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    The Ville Haute, or Upper City sits on a hill looking over the town centre and port.

    Enter through the ancient stone gates onto the cobble stoned streets. Take a wander and check out the fabulous old buildings everywhere you turn.

    You can take a walk around the ramparts, which are tree lined and offer fabulous views across the town.

    And don’t forget to pay a visit to the magnificent Basilique Notre Dame.

    There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the Ville Haute if you are in need of refreshment.

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    Basilique Notre Dame

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the magnificent dome
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    The Notre Dame Cathedral can’t be missed when in Boulogne….mainly because it is so big you can’t help but see it!!

    Built between 1827 – 1866, it sits above the town, in the Ville Haute and has one of the largest domes in Europe.

    There is no entry charge, so therefore no excuse not to go inside and admire this cathedral and its fabulous dome.

    We were pretty impressed actually, and it was nice to have the place virtually to ourselves, besides the guy playing the organ, which just added to the peaceful atmosphere.

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    Beach & Promenade

    by sue_stone Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    sand yachting on the beach
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    Part of the attraction of a visit to Boulogne is the beach. I can imagine it would be a popular place in summer (though I am not sure how clean the water would be as it is located very close to the port).

    When we were there in autumn, the main activity on the beach was sand yachting (see photo for what I am talking about!).

    Rather than get our toes sandy, we opted for a stroll along the paved promenade. There is an interesting ‘Shake Hands’ monument along the way, along with some nice gardens and a couple of statues.

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    Visit the Notre Dame de Boulogne

    by MikeBird Updated Nov 25, 2009

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    The imposing cathedral that towers over the city and seen for miles around is called the Notre Dame de Boulogne. Its most distinctive feature is its enormous tower which is stretched and then capped with a dome.

    There are crypts below although we didn't pay the extra to visit these. The guidebook says that these are some of the largest in France.

    We felt that much of the Cathedral was in urgent need of maintenance with drips from the ceiling caught by well placed buckets and plaster peeling off the walls.

    Still it was well worth stopping by and looking inside. The tower from underneath with its starry decoration was particularly impressive.

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    Admire the town's kitchen garden

    by MikeBird Updated Nov 25, 2009

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    Boulogne's kitchen garden

    In the middle of the old town is the old square much of which has been given over to a display of kitchen gardening - french style. There are all sorts of vegetable and salads being grown, all tastefully presented and with interpretation boards in French and English.
    We couldn't help feeling that this sort of display would not have been possible in England for fear of vandalism but maybe that is a little unfair.
    It helped that the sun was shining and the plants all looked splendid. We liked the wicker figure as well. - see the photo.
    I wonder who benefitted from the vegetables - hopefully some needy residents of the town.

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    Stroll round the fortifications

    by MikeBird Updated Nov 25, 2009

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    Walking off the midday meal
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    After a pleasant lunch what better than to take a stroll with friends around the ancient fortified walls? There are four gates into the old town of Boulogne and the walls connect up with all four of them. Being raised up you also get good views into the town and beyond it.

    The ancient gates in the walls are impressive structures and you can easily imagine them being the main way of controlling movements in and out of the city in days long gone. ( see the second photo.)

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    Sea Life in Nausicaa

    by JohnnySpangles Written Aug 8, 2008

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    AS YOU CAN SEE, THEY DON'T SKIMP ON THE FISH

    A huge mega-complex devoted to the studying, watching and poking of all things aquatic.

    Nausicaa is allegedly the biggest fish tank in Europe, although the North Sea may have something to say about that. Thanks to the miserably unfit condition of our weakling pound it isn’t particularly cheap to get in and there’s not much change out of 50 euros for a family of four but you do get your money’s worth in terms of the sheer weight of fish on display. I have to admit it is also more entertaining than the cheaper trip to the fishmonger’s window that I’d originally suggested, as the fish are still flapping around.

    You can’t knock it for the variety of sealife on display and the imagination that engineered the weird and wonderful tanks they are in. On the downside you’ll probably find that your peaceful contemplation of our marine friends through a plexiglass window will occasionally be shattered by parties of obnoxious schoolchildren who have failed to grasp the meaning of the words ‘Excuse-moi’, even in their own language. However a swift elbow to the side of the head, when nobody’s looking, usually sorts the problem out and makes you feel a whole lot better. Or, better, still a hefty shove over the side of the shark tank should serve as a warning to other transgressors.

    There’s a lot of preaching about how Man is mucking up the oceans, in fact too much. I think message-saturation point was reached halfway through a 3D film in which Jacques Cousteau’s Great Grandson’s Cousin Twice Removed lectured the audience about how it was all my fault that there’s only one mackerel left in the English Channel. Without a word of a lie, his big finger came right out of the screen and pointed at me specifically. How did he find out?

    The cafes and drinks are very, very cheap inside Nausicaa so I wouldn’t bother with a picnic of sweaty baguettes and warm pop on this particular trip. However taking a picnic basket may enable you to smuggle some fishing line and bait into the complex which will make your trip much more entertaining. I’d caught two penguins and a crocodile before I was thrown out.

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    Cathédrale de Notre-Dame - more to see inside

    by Mikebond Updated Mar 27, 2008

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    statue of Abb�� Haffreingue
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    The dome and the high altar are the most important but not the only attractions that the basilica has to offer.
    Another interesting art work you should admire is the statue of Abbé Haffreingue, who wanted to build a new church in 1827. He is sculptured on his kneels while offering the Notre-Dame basilica to the Lady.
    The second photo shows a retable of the Sacred Heart in new-baroque style.
    You can also see some rests of frescoes in the small apses (see the third image).
    Have a look at this Travelogue for more pictures of the interior of the basilica.

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    • Arts and Culture

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Boulogne-sur-Mer Things to Do

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