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France's biggest fishing port

Boulogne-sur-Mer, which lies on the Opal coast looking across the channel to Britain, is the biggest fishing port in France. Once a busy ferry port, it is now reliant on the twin industries of fishing and tourism for its economic life, as the popularity of the Dover-Calais crossing and the advent of the tunnel put paid to its ferry trade. Fortunately, Boulogne-sur-Mer is very attractive to tourists, and the old walled town has immense charm and a fascinating history.

A town of two parts

There are two distinct parts to the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer; the old walled town which sits on ancient Roman ruins, and the lower town which has grown up around the bustling port and fishing harbour. The old town, with its narrow cobbled streets and attractive mediaeval ambience is a Mecca for visitors, and it is easy to while away many hours wandering around and enjoying lunch at one of the pretty pavement cafés.

Boulogne-sur-Mer's lower town

The lower town, down at sea level, has attractions of its own. The fishing port is lively and colourful as any, and seafood lovers flock to the early morning fish markets to treat themselves to the catch of the day. It gives a whole new meaning to fresh seafood, when you can go and see it unloaded from the boat!

Bright and blooming

Boulogne-sur-Mer is a bright and tidy looking town, with pretty squares and houses with gaily painted shutters and blooming window boxes. There are lots of appealing cafés, bistros, patisseries and chocolateries to tempt you, and when in Boulogne-sur-Mer you really should visit Philippe Olivier's famous cheese shop, said to be the best in the entire country! Seafood restaurants are plentiful, of course, and it is impossible, with such a never ending supply of fresh fish, to find a poor one.

Not Nelson's column, but Napoleon's!

When you have visited the old city, the chateau and the port, you could take in a little of Boulogne-sur-Mer's military history with a look at Napoleon's column, which stands looking across the channel just outside the town. Napoleon had hoped to use Boulogne-sur-Mer as a base to invade and conquer Britain, and this tribute to him was built by his army.

Try a little sand yachting

Boulogne-sur-Mer is a great place to go if you enjoy discovering new and different sports. Sand yachting is popular here, and with a couple of lessons you will be amazed at just how fast you can fly across the sandy beaches of Boulogne with the wind in your sails! There are plenty of other sports available too, with fishing, golf, swimming, cycling and tennis all on hand. The beaches are excellent too for swimming, sunbathing and play, and the resort is exceptionally family friendly having earned a coveted Kid Station rating.

How to get there

Getting to Boulogne-sur-Mer couldn't be easier, as the town is only around half an hour's drive from the port of Calais. Travelling by train is also an excellent way of getting there, with flying also an option. The airport of Le Touquet is the nearest to Boulogne-sur-Mer, which is served by Lydd Air. Meanwhile slightly further away is the airport of Paris Beauvais which has flights from Scotland and Ireland with Ryanair. Should you wish to fly, you would have to continue your journey onto Boulogne by train or car.

Property prices and availability in and around Boulogne-sur-Mer

Boulogne-sur-Mer has a thriving property market as it is a very desirable place. There is always a possibility of a rental income too, as the town is popular with holiday makers. The market in the region as whole is steadily improving, so property bought now should prove to be a good investment. Boulogne-sur-Mer is a little more highly priced in general than most of the surrounding area.

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Boulogne-sur-Mer AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Boulogne-sur-Mer?

Boulogne-sur-Mer is located in the far north of France, on the coast just south-west of Calais. It lies in the north-west of the Pas-de-Calais department.

Boulogne-sur-Mer Property Map

IN THE REGION OF NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS

Nord-Pas-de-Calais Guide

Nord-Pas-de-Calais Property Map

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF PAS-DE-CALAIS

Pas-de-Calais Guide

  Pas-de-Calais Map


Population: 44,859


Access: By boat: The best way to access Boulogne-sur-Mer is by ferry from Dover to Calais. By road: It takes around half an hour to drive to Boulogne-sur-Mer from the port of Calais. By air: The nearest airport is Le Touquet, with Paris Beauvais also an option.


Economy: The economy is sea based, with France's biggest fishing port and an excellent fish market.


Interesting fact: The town boasts what is reputed to be the best cheese shop in the whole of France. This is Philippe Olivier's cheese shop, and it is almost an unwritten law that you should buy some of these delicious cheeses when in Boulogne-sur-Mer!

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