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Bolougnemarker and Boulogne, Francemarker redirect here. For other places called Boulogne, see Boulogne .

Boulogne-sur-Mer is a city in northern Francemarker. It is a sub-prefecture of the department of Pas-de-Calais. The population of the city was 44,859 in the 1999 census, whereas that of the whole metropolitan area was 135,116.


The name Boulogne was first recorded during the Roman Empire as Bononia, a derivative of the Celtic word bona (meaning "foundation", "settlement", "citadel"). This derivation is also found in the name of the Italian city of Bolognamarker.


The cathedral of Boulogne towers over the city

Origin of the city

Originally named Gesoriacum and probably also to be identified with Portus Itius, by the 4th century Boulogne was known to the Romans as Bononia and served as the major port connecting the rest of the empire to Britain. The emperor Claudius used this town as his base for the Roman invasion of Britain, in AD 43, and until 296 it was the base of the Classis Britannica.

Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages it was the centre of a namesake county. The area was fought over by the French and the English. In 1550, The Peace of Boulogne ended the war of England with Scotlandmarker and France. France bought back Boulogne for 400,000 crowns.

The Napoleonic period

In the 14th century the Cathedral of Notre-Damemarker was reconstructed by the priest Benoit Haffreingue after he received a call from God to reconstruct the town's ruined basilica. During the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon amassed La Grande Armée in Boulogne to invade the United Kingdom in 1805. However, his plans were halted by other European matters and the supremacy of the Royal Navy (including thousands of Congreve rockets ).

The two world wars

On June 15, 1944, 297 planes (155 Avro Lancasters, 130 Handley Page Halifaxes, and 12 De Havilland Mosquitos) of the Royal Air Force bombed Boulogne harbour to suppress German naval activity following D-Day. Some of the Lancasters carried Tallboy bombs. As a result, the harbour and the surrounding area were completely destroyed. In August, 1944 the town had been declared a "fortress" by Adolf Hitler, but it succumbed to assault and liberation by the 3rd Canadian Division in September. In one incident, a French civilian guided the Canadians to a "secret passage" leading into the walled old town and by-passing the German defenders.

To replace the destroyed urban infrastructure, affordable housing and public facility projects in functional, brutalist building styles were carried out in the 1950s and 60s. The harbour therefore sometimes proves to be a disappointment to tourists looking for a typical northern French harbour scene.


Boulogne-sur-Mer is the most important fishing port in France. 7,000 inhabitants derive part or all of their livelihoods from fishing.

IFREMER (the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea) and the Pasteur Institute are located in Boulogne Port.

Certain brands, including Crown and Findus, are based in Boulogne.


  • Radio : Radio 6, France Bleu Nord, Virgin Radio Côte d'Opale.
  • Television : France 3 Côte d'Opale
  • Print : La Voix du Nord (édition de Boulogne sur Mer), La Semaine dans le Boulonnais, Touzazimut.
  • English language film : [19338]


The Belfry is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Opened in 1991, Nausicaämarker - The French National Sea Centre is a science centre entirely dedicated to the relationship between mankind and the sea. It houses Aquaria, exhibitions on the marine fauna, and the exploitation and management of marine resources (fisheries, aquaculture, coastal planning, maritime transport, exploitation of energies and mineral, tourism).

In the year 1905 the First Esperanto Universal Congress was held in Boulogne-sur-Mer. L. L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto, was among the attendees. In the year 2005 there was a great anniversary meeting with more than 500 attendees.


List of Mayors
Duration Name Party Particularities
2008-2014 Frédéric Cuvillier PSmarker Deputy
2004-2008 Frédéric Cuvillier PSmarker Deputy
1996-2004 Guy Lengagne PSmarker Deputy
1989-1996 Jean Muselet Conservative
1977-1989 Guy Lengagne PSmarker Deputy, Minister
1945-1977 Henri Henneguelle PSmarker
Past mayors are unknown.


Boulogne's Castle Museum.



  • Metropolitan bus services are operated by the TCRB
  • Coach services to Calais and Dunkerque
  • A16 motorway


  • The main railway station is Boulogne-Ville and located in the south of the city.
  • Boulogne-Tintelleries is used for regional transit. It is located near the University and the city centre.


  • The major port of Calaismarker is only away and provides major connections to Dovermarker in Englandmarker.


The Saint-Louis campus of University of Côte d'Opale.
Boulogne sur Mer is famous for hosting one of the oldest Universités de l'été - summer courses in French language and culture.

The Saint-Louis building of the University of the Côte d'Opale's Boulogne campus opened its doors in 1991, on the site of the former St. Louis hospital, the front entrance to which remains a predominant architectural feature. Its 6 major specialisms are Modern Languages, French Literature, Sport, Law, History and Economics.The University is situated in the town centre, about 5 minutes from the Boulogne Tintelleries train station.


Public primary and secondary

  • High Schools : Lycée Auguste Marriette, Edouard Branly, Cazin (professional).
  • College : College Langevin, Angelier, Daunou.

Private primary and secondary

  • High schools: Lycée Nazareth, Haffreingue, Saint-Joseph
  • College: College Godefroy de Bouillon, Haffreingue, Nazareth, Saint-Joseph


There is one theatre, the Théatre Monsigny, and two cinemas.


Two health centres are located in Boulogne, the public Hospital Duchenne and the private Clinique de la côte d'opale.




  • Stade Olympique Maritime Boulonnais (Nationale 1)
  • ESSM (Pro B) located in Le-Portel.

Others Sports

  • Aviron Boulonnais, produce many olympic medals for France


  • The castle-museum of Boulogne, in the fortified town, houses the most important exhibition of masks from Alsaka in the world, the second largest collection of Greek ceramics in France (after the Louvre), collections of Roman and medieval sculptures, paintings (15th-20th century), an Egyptian collection, African Arts etc. As these collections are exhibited in a medieval castle, one can also discover the Roman walls (in the underground) as well as rooms built in the 13th century (La Barbière, banqueting hall, chapel, covered parapet walk...)
  • La Casa San Martin is currently a museum where José de San Martin the leader of independence struggle in Argentina died in 1850, from 1930 to 1967 this house was the consulate of Argentina in France.
  • Nausicaämarker, the French national sealife center.


  • La Matellote
  • Welsh Rarebit
  • Sandwich américain
  • Kipper
  • Le Hostellerie De le Rivere

Notable people

Born in Boulogne

Others associated with Boulogne

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Boulogne-sur-Mer is twinned with:

See also


External links

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