Why Boulogne sur Mer?
We had disembarked on our second European Vaycay – and this one was going to be entirely France. North France to be precise. We had one week to shuffle down the French coast of the English Channel checking into various AirBnb’s & Hotels found on the day via my smartphone. Great inventions! Get one!
Boulogne was the decided destination for our first night and I had found an AirBnb for us in the town centre as we drove down to Dover to catch the ferry. It is half an hour away from Calais and right on the sea – Sur Mer – geddit?
Terlincthun British Cemetery
As we approached Boulogne we spotted the enormous Terlincthun British Cemetary. Both mine and Chris’s grandads served in World War II and we owe so much gratitude to those who fought for our freedom. So we paid a visit and showed the kids the memorials. Although they are very young I believe its good to show them where the came from so they know where they are going in life. Deep. But there ya go. Respect!
Lets Blend In!
We were all starving after a mightily long journey down, it was going to be a late lunch. We headed into Boulogne Town Centre. The city is divided into several parts – but as we love history, buildings and the likes we decided the Fortified town was the right place for our lunch.
I quickly bought a beret to blend in.
We devoured some awesome Moules Mariniere at La Ferme Gourmande which is a traditional French Restraurant. It was divine. Lovely friendly atmosphere. Can wholeheartedly recommend. And when I feel a bit braver I’m having the escargot.
Mum & Dad by Eva
Bellys full we had a glorious sunny afternoon to explore the Fortified Town. Here’s what we saw.
Best site to start with as you will spot it from pretty much anywhere in Boulogne. The basilica is a prominent landmark of the city with its 101 metre high dome, was built between 1827 and 1875 on the site of the medieval cathedral of Boulogne.
2. Jardin de la Basilique Notre-Dame
Whilst this may not look impressive – it really is. I believe it had over 300 different species of plants in one small courtyard. The smells were beautiful. I enjoyed it! Tranquil little square.
3 & 4 Hôtel de Ville and Jardin Ephémère
I’m tying these two together because – they actually are. The town hall & Jardin Ephémère was my absolute favorite site and reason I’ve decided to write about Boulogne.
It really stuck with me. Every single year the outside of it changes with huge local participation and competition to design the gardens and the theme.
When we went in 2016 the theme was the senses. So you walked into the nose bit of the gardens and they had really strong smelling plants such as mint. The sight part was beautiful bright colours and textures. The feel was a path which wobbled and spikey and smooth plants.
Without doubt it was one of the coolest free things I’ve done – especially with young children it really got them captivated.
And these fountains I thought were just ACE!
Really enjoyed it so did the kids. And it changes every year so definitely worth a visit – click here to see more.
5. Le Belfroi
The 12th-century Gothic belfry is the oldest monument in the Old Town and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was originally the keep of the castle of the Counts of Boulogne and was once used as a dungeon. Today it symbolises communal liberty.
It is worth visiting and climbing to the top if only for the breathtaking views over the port, the town and the sea.
Access is from the ground floor of the Town Hall. Entrance is free.
6. Château-Musée de Boulogne-sur-Mer
Oh my goodness this place is nice.
The castle was built in the 13th century by Philippe Hurepel (1180-1234), count of Boulogne and son of Philip II of France. Following the death of his half-brother, King Louis VIII after a short three-year reign, Hurepel was one of the leaders of a rebellion against the regent Blanche de Castille, mother of the minor Louis IX.
He constructed castles at Calais and Hardelot and refortified Boulogne.
The castle is built in the eastern corner of the medieval walls surrounding the Haute Ville (literally, high town – the part of Boulogne on the hill).
The walls themselves were reconstructed by Hurepel. The eastern part of the castle was built over a corner of the Roman wall, parts of which are still visible in the basement.
The Boulogne museum is housed here.
We totally loved it. Such a beautiful place!
And There You Have It!
After all that walking we headed to find our Airbnb which luckily was next to a kids playground ride where they got around 10 goes each for 5 euros so that kept them happy!
We grabbed some groceries and headed to our Airbnb on Opal Coast for dinner.
Got the Kids to bed and enjoyed the sunset over Boulogne whilst planning our Day 2!
This place is fantastic! Go see for yourselves!