View of Dieppe's church taken from the castle

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.

This city/town forms part of one of the French legs of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.
Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage routes
Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage routes

Dieppe, like most of the coastal places in Normandy is located in-between the high cliffs.

View of Dieppe from the hill
View of Dieppe from the hill

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).

Dieppe's castle/fortress
Dieppe’s castle/fortress

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.

Saint-Remy church of Dieppe
Saint-Remy church of Dieppe

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.

The Dieppe beach during the International Kite Festival & Competition
The Dieppe beach during the International Kite Festival & Competition

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.

1st Aid post on the Dieppe beach
1st Aid post on the Dieppe beach

At the bottom of the cliff and its castle is a public swimming pool that is filled with warm seawater.

Public swimming pool below the Dieppe castle
Public swimming pool below the Dieppe castle

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.

Ferry docked in the harbour of Dieppe
Ferry docked in the harbour of Dieppe

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.

Pleasure boat marina of Dieppe
Pleasure boat marina of Dieppe

Dieppe lighthouse

The lighthouse of Dieppe harbour in Normandy
The lighthouse of Dieppe harbour in Normandy

The lighthouse marking the entrance to the harbour of Dieppe is colorful. It had been destroyed many times, mostly when it was being moved when they extended the seawall, but also towards the end of WWII by the Germans.

The current lighthouse was built mid 1990 and it measures 8 meters high.

The marina has a busy road and promenade alongside it, and on the other side of the road you will find many restaurants:

Harbour restaurants in Dieppe
Harbour restaurants in Dieppe

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.

Harbour restaurants in Dieppe
Harbour restaurants in Dieppe

The view from these restaurants is that of the harbour, pleasure boat marina and an occasional cargo ship passing through.

Marina of Dieppe
Marina of Dieppe

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.

View of the Northside of the marina of Dieppe
View of the Northside of the marina of Dieppe

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours church

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.

Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours church on the hill of Dieppe
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours church on the hill of Dieppe

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.

Saturday morning market of Dieppe
Saturday morning market of Dieppe

On the other days, during the summer, the pedestrian streets are the home for the restaurants, cafes and bars.

Pedestrians street with restaurant terraces in Dieppe
Pedestrians street with restaurant terraces in Dieppe

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.

Narrow street of Dieppe
Narrow street of Dieppe

Although Dieppe was heavily bombed during the Second World War, there are still some older buildings left standing.

Old city gate of Dieppe
Old city gate of Dieppe

Golf Club

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. The golf links now lie on top of several bunkers; real bunkers from WWII.

Old golf course of Dieppe on the cliffs
Old golf course of Dieppe on the cliffs

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.

Canada WWII Memorial in Dieppe
Canada WWII Memorial in Dieppe
Canada WWII Memorial in Dieppe
Canada WWII Memorial in 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.

Canada maple leave decoration in Dieppe
Canada maple leave decoration in Dieppe

GR21

Dieppe is part of the long distance hiking path, GR21, which brings you from Le Havre to Le Treport via the cliffs over some 180 kms.

Dieppe and the Artists

Dieppe in Normandy was a popular place for artists to come and apply their art. Here is a list, non exhaustive, of the artists that painted in Dieppe.

A link (“⇠”) to the artist’s works will appear when published (a “*” indicates that the artist did not work directly in Dieppe, instead worked in nearby villages):

Conclusion

Dieppe is quite an interesting city to visit. It’s steeped in history, a beautiful castle and churches and some very nice restaurants. You can get there quite easily by car and there is a direct ferry service to the UK.

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