Dieppe – Introduction
Dieppe is a small harbour city (some 40,000 inhabitants) with an active fishing fleet, a ferry to the United Kingdom (Newhaven), an enormous fortress/castle and a nice looking inner city. Dieppe was founded in the year 1060 as a small fishing village, but already in 910, the Vikings started a settlement.
Dieppe, like most of the coastal places in Normandy is located in-between the high cliffs.
The city’s visual landscape is dominated by the castle perched on top of the cliffs and overlooking the city. The original castle was built in 1188 (but was destroyed and rebuilt).
For more information about the castle, click here to read our article on the castle.
Inside the City
The inner part of Dieppe is old, despite several bombings during World War II. The Saint-Remy church is quite a distinctive church, and the tower is from the original church which was built in the 13th century.
The church looks more like it should be in Mexico. The rebuilding of the church started in 1522 using the original tower as base and was finished in 1545.
On the water side, there is a long beach (like anywhere in Upper Normandy, the beach is made from pebbles) and lots of parking space and grass fields used for special events.
In contrast with most beaches in Normandy, there a no, or few, huts. You will find a few shops and food vendors, emergency services and book reading facilities.
At the bottom of the cliff and its castle is a public swimming pool that is filled with warm seawater.
On the other side of the beach, where the L’Arques river flows into the sea, is where the harbours start. The biggest ships that arrive here are by far the ferries that cross the Channel to the UK (Newhaven). When a ferry is in, it dominates the view on that side of the city.
In the background you can see the tall white cliffs of Normandy.
Alongside the river are the harbours, for commercial (fishing and cargo) boats, and a rather big pleasure boat marina.
The marina has a busy road and promenade alongside it, and on the other side of the road you will find many restaurants:
Most restaurants, as would be expected, have as speciality fish. In the summer, the restaurant strip can be quite lively, with music and most people sitting outside on the terraces.
The view from these restaurants is that of the harbour, pleasure boat marina and an occasional cargo ship passing through.
On the East side of the harbours is the start of a hill and all the dock businesses, like ship chandlers, and many bars catering to sailors.
Above the hill is a solitary church dominating the exit of the harbour. The church, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (our Lady of the Good Rescue), was built in 1876 and is dedicated to the sailors lost to the sea.
Inside the city itself are a few pedestrian streets. On Saturday morning, there is a very big open air market, with anything that can be sold on sale. From clothes, to food, to toys, to even live animals. Many farmers from the area come here to sell their fresh produce.
On the other days, during the summer, the pedestrian streets are the home for the restaurants, cafes and bars.
When walking the city, you will find many old, or “oldish” buildings. Streets are narrow and when you look in between buildings, you often find some rare architectures.
Although Dieppe was heavily bombed during the Second World War, there are still some older buildings left standing.
The city also hosts France’s 7th oldest golf course. Made by the English in 1897 (it’s easy to come here thanks to the twice daily ferry), the 18 holes run along the majestic cliffs and the English Channel. At some of the holes it is easy to see your golf ball head into the sea.
Dieppe and Canada
There has been a long standing relationship between Dieppe and Canada. The relationship culminated in the tragic end of WWII’s “Operation Jubilee”, an attempt by the Allied Forces to occupy Dieppe (1942, years before D-Day). On the 19th of August 1942, more than 2,000 Canadian soldiers died trying to take the city, a struggle that the city of Dieppe will never forget.
This is why you will find many reminders all over the city that Canada has a very special place in the hearts of the people of Dieppe.
It’s therefore no surprise when you walk inside the city to see Canadian flags or the maple leaf symbol of Canada displayed on buildings and signs.
Dieppe is part of the long distance hiking path, GR21, which brings you from Le Havre to Treport via the cliffs over some 180 kms.
Our Other Articles on Dieppe
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