Capital of the Opal Coast, Boulogne-sur-Mer is the first French fishing port. A city of art, history and culture, a lively port and seaside resort, well equipped to welcome the many tourists who visit it throughout the year, it is a city that deserves to be known. It is also the second most popular tourist destination in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region after Lille. Its justly renowned gastronomy, with its various colourful markets and its numerous fish and seafood restaurants, reinforces the quality of its welcome. The city is spread over two levels, the upper town, on a hill, which houses its historic district with a rich architectural heritage that bears witness to 2,000 years of history - starting in Roman times -, and the lower town, at sea level, with the town centre, its administrations, its shops but also the seafront with the port area, the beach and the Nausicaà - the largest aquarium in Europe.

In spite of its almost 85% destruction during the Second World War, Boulogne has preserved in the old town many vestiges of its rich past. Thus, you will be able to discover the old fortified town protected by 1.5 kilometres of well-preserved ramparts, as you wander through its cobbled streets. The county castle surrounded by its moat now houses the rich collections of the Sainte-Beuve museum. On the square of the magnificent town hall - with its superb governors' hall - stands the impressive municipal belfry, a former 13th century keep. A little further on is the basilica of Notre-Dame de Boulogne, which houses a medieval crypt, the largest in France. By the way, you can admire beautiful 12th and 13th century mansions, such as the Hôtel Désandrouin where Napoleon I stayed during his plans to conquer England.

In the lower town, contrasting with the calm of the upper town, shops, bars and restaurants are always very lively. It is the same for the port area shared between the activities related to fishing and those of other businesses such as wood. You will be able to buy fresh fish from the daily return of fishing on the Gambetta quay or, on a guided tour, discover the path of the fish from its unloading on the quay and its shipment to the tide station by visiting Capécure, the seafood marketing platform.

You will then find yourself near the National Sea Centre, more commonly known as Nausicaà, a place where you can learn about the sea environment, unique in Europe by its size and the possibility of observing more than 36,000 live animals from all the seas of the world. They evolve in front of you in about fifty giant aquariums and basins competing for interest with educational films, a reconstitution of an oceanographic ship...

But among the attractions of Boulogne, there are also those generated by its surroundings. The Opal Coast as a whole of course, but also its closest surroundings such as Wimereux, only 7 kilometres to the north, a charming seaside resort with its elegant Belle Époque residences and beach cabins spread out on the sand of the seafront. And also the natural site of Ecault, a magnificent massif of protected dunes and its contiguous national forest, located between Hardelot Plage and the capital of the Opal Coast where you can indulge in the pleasures of walks and hikes in complete tranquility.

The must-see places in Boulogne-Sur-Mer

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