Beautiful Boulogne Absolutely Stole my Heart

Boulogne,  also known as Boulogne-sur-Mer, is one of several walled or fortified cities in France. Unlike Saint-Malo and Guérande, Boulogne-sur-Mer is quite hilly. Arriving at the Tintelleries train station meant I was about half way between the walled old-town and the coastal attractions. Walk downhill and I arrive at the sea; walk uphill and I arrive at the walled old-town. I entered  the fortified city through Porte des Dunes.

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In the niche at the top is a 1924 sculpture by Paul Graff, the effigy of Notre-Dame de Boulogne.

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Porte des Dunes

There is a lovely little park to the left of this gate that I’ll talk about later.

Inside the Walled City

I felt super lucky to have managed a small studio apartment with-in the walls just at the foot of the cathedral. The views out my window were wonderful!

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View of the tower from my window

 

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Cathedral view from my window

My little corner of the world resided on rue de Lille with a wonderful view of the cathedral dome.

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My view walking back to the apartment every day!

I was just two steps away from a great boulangerie which kept me supplied with croissants, pain au chocolate and baguettes. Plus, in the afternoon I could just pop in for a sweet treat and a cup of tea!  Just around the corner was the lovely cathedral with its peaceful little garden and fascinating crypt. Both the church and the crypt deserve a post all their own so keep watch!

 

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Crypt of the Cathedral

Walking Around or on the Walls

The walkway around the city wall gives the feel of a park. A young family strolled here every evening, maman jogged while papa ran beside the little fellow as he learned to ride his bike solo.

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Another option to walk around the city walls is to climb to the top of the remparts, which I did in part. I found many wonderful views despite some sections being closed for repair! Porte des Degrés is where I climbed to the top.

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Porte Degrés and war memorial
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Just inside Porte Degrés
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View from the remparts at Porte Degrés
Garden and city view

Garden and city view
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There are four gates (portes) and each one has its own distinctive differences. The photos above show the gate, city street (this part was pedestrianized) just inside the gate, the view of that same street from above on the remparts and a view of the garden outside the wall.

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Porte Gayole view from outside the walls

Inside this gate I thought was much more interesting than the outside of the gate.

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Porte Gayole

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Anno Domini 1788, inscription above the angels

Tucked in one corner of the walled city is the Château de Boulogne-sur-Mer which is now a museum of the city.

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Château de Boulogne

My first evening there, I stumbled upon a path that ultimately led me around the château moat. After I started down the path, someone closed the gate behind me (later I discovered they had locked the gate!). In blissful ignorance, I meandered along taking photos only to discover the care-taker waiting at the other end to lock up for the evening! I apologized profusely for making him wait and thanked him the the opportunity to wander while he waited on me. With no sign on the gate, I was thankful he was so kind and patient!

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Gardens to Explore in Boulogne

Jardin Valentin Hugo

One evening I discovered a garden, Jardin Valentin Hugo, tucked away inside the walls near Porte des Degrés. It was a peaceful place with the most fascinating fountains. The garden honors the great grand-daughter of Victor Hugo. Valentin Hugo was a painter who was born here in Boulogne.

 

 

Jardin Ephémère

Not far (nothing is really very far when you are inside the walls) from Jardin Hugo, adjacent to Place Godefroy de Bouillion, is this delightful little Jardin Ephémère. Café de la Mairie borders the garden on one side and the Imperial Palace on the other.

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Jardin Ephémère

Square August Mariette-Pacha

Outside of the walls, near Porte des Dunes,  is the small park called Square August Mariette-Pacha. Mariette-Pacha, who was born here in Boulogne, was an archaeologist an Egyptologist. In homage to him, there is a pyramid with sphinx here as well as a reconstruction of a boat that was used to transport the body of Kheops (around 2650 BC) on the Nile “from the Land of the Living towards the World of the Dead”.

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Parc Bucciali

Further along Boulevard August Mariette tucked between two buildings, I found the entrance to Parc Bucciali. The views are spectacular! The park is built on the side of a hill, with steep steps leading down to the park and equally steep steps leading up and out on the opposite side.

 

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Jardin Bucciali

Exiting at the upper right corner of the park from where I entered, the views improved, if that is at all possible. The vista included the cathedral  as well as local potagers (gardens).

 

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Place Dalton’s Weekly Market

 

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Of course no trip would be perfect for me without a visit to the local outdoor market. It was on this square that I discovered a great seafood restaurant by mere chance. I stopped in Chez Jules on the market square to warm up with a cup of tea after the market. By the time I finished my tea, they were beginning to serve lunch so I stayed.

With a plethora of restaurants specializing in seafood I was spoiled for choice but Chez Jules was my favorite.  My favorite dish, hands down, was the choucroute à la mer that I had at Chez Jules.  Listed as the house specialty the waiter assured me that I must try it! There were five different types of seafood, little new potatoes accompanied by the choucroute (sauerkraut) and  a lobster remoulde sauce. The seafood was the star of the dish!

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Choucroute à la mer

 

The Sea and Fishing History

After the market, I wandered down to the coast. Although it was quite cold, I was determined to walk along the beach and wade through the water. However, on this day in late March that was not in my future. Big machines were grating and scraping, moving the sand around and getting the beach ready for the coming warm weather. Instead, I wandered the boardwalk – enjoying the statues and trying to enjoy the cold sea breeze.

 

The museum Maison de la Beurière is not far from the board walk. La Beurière is the name given to this neighborhood where seamen and their families lived up until the second war. As I made my way up to the museum, I turned for a photo of the ascent.

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Not for the faint of heart

This delightful little museum at 16 rue du Mâchicoulis is actually a three story house that was the residence of three families, each of whose husbands worked in the fishing industry. The docent told the history of each family, giving a vivid picture of their daily life.

Favorite Street Views

To finish this post I want to share some of the murals that I discovered on my walks in Boulogne – sur- Mer as well as just a few street views that I particularly like.

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Residential street inside the walls

My street of rue de Lille has the Hôtel de Ville and Imperial Palace at one end and the Cathedral at the opposite end.

 

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Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is just across the street from the Hôtel de Ville seen below.

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Hôtel de Ville

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