Boulogne sur Mer is a city which has been awarded the title “City of Art and History” and offers numerous fascinating places to visit. Its tumultuous history is reflected in the many places to visit in the area.
To help you organise your outing with friends or your family, we can suggest a complete list of activities to be enjoyed here. Among these you can find something which will appeal to all age groups and fans of sport, culture or history.
Great places to eat out or to enjoy a drink, an exciting programme of shows and concerts, nightlife suggestions: you will find all the information you need to plan an enjoyable stay.
Discover what Boulogne sur Mer has to offer for eating out, in its extensive range of Restaurants and Brasseries. Enjoy tasty local specialities and look out for typical local markets.
Where to stay ?
Make your choice from the wide range of Hotels, Guest Houses, Self-catering apartments, Camp sites and Youth Hostels. You can be assured of finding the right answer, thanks to the quality certification labels provided by the various tourism organisations.
In this section you will find all the information you need to plan your itinerary. Whether you are travelling by car, bus, boat, bus, taxi or by bicycle, all modes of transport are taken into consideration. Full details of providers can be found including telephone numbers, timetables and much more.
To help you prepare your visit, choose among the following sub-chapters from this page: Weather and tides, Commercial services, Around the wider area.
You can also find useful links here to other helpful websites.
Itwas created originally in 1825 to house a collection of curiosities which hadbeen assembled by Viscount Isidore Leroy de Barde who was a prominent painterof natural history subjects in the reign of King Louis XVIII. Since then variedand rich collections have been added to the museum. Due to Boulogne’sgeographical location as a seaport, there were many travellers who left theshores of France here to explore the world. There were numerous highly educatedpersonalities with links to the city who later donated their collections to themuseum when they returned home. Among these was Ernest Hamy, founder of theTrocadero museum in Paris who also felt a commitment to enriching the museum inhis home town.
Themuseum celebrated 25 years since its installation in the county palace ofBoulogne sur Mer, and this was the opportunity to refresh many of the museum’spermanent displays. The visitor itinerary in the museum has been entirelyredesigned, and the collections have been put into four main spaces.Thevisit concludes with a part of the museum dedicated to displaying localcontemporary cultures. The intention is to lead the visitor out of one cultureand into another.
Thedepartment of Mediterranean archaeology includes the Egyptian collection,comprising sarcophagae as well as a mummy dating from the Lower Period whichinspired Auguste Mariette to embark on a career as an Egyptologist. TheMariette collection has been here since the inception of the museum and overthe years it has been enriched by the addition of objects donated by privateindividuals, as well as a significant donation from the Louvre in Paris. Thecentral theme is around religious beliefs and funeral rites.
Thisdepartment also includes a collection of Greek ceramics comprising 450 piecesof high quality including “The suicide of Ajax”, the masterpiece of the museum,attributed to Exekias and dating from 530 BC. The piece is notable for the finequality of the pictorial representations, representing a hitherto unknownillustration of the hero’s final moments. Elsewhere in the display, you willnote an ensemble of pieces devoted to the figure of Heracles. This was acquiredin 1862 from the collection of Charles Louis Fleur Panckoucke who was aprominent antiquarian in his day, assembling a collection of more than 400items. Although the collection is incomplete, you can follow most of themythical epic sagas of the Greek hero.
Thedepartment of ethnography devoted to collections far from Europe takes thevisitor on a voyage around the world from the funeral ceramics dating from thepre-Columbian Americas, to Oceania as well as Africa. The extraordinaryrichness of this department is due to the presence of a collection of objectsfrom Alaska. Here you will find a unique series of artefacts includingceremonial masks from the Sugpiat of Kodiak island. The importance of thiscollection is recognized on a worldwide basis and was brought back to France bythe young Alphonse Pinart in 1872. There are two main parts of the collection:the first comprises masks carved from driftwood coming from the Aleutianislands the purpose of which is not fully understood. The second part comprises70 Sugpiat masks from the Kodiak archipelago in Alaska. The masks were usedduring festivals to worship the spirit world as well as the seasons – inparticular, winter. Since 2006 the museum has been developing a partnershipwith a museum at Kodiak which has allowed some of the enigmatic symbols to beexplained. Thanks to this work, themuseum is able to present a display of Sugpiat contemporary art. As such thispartnership represents the commitment by Boulogne museum to demonstrate theculture of contemporary Alaska.
Youwill also discover one of the most important collections of art from Oceania tobe found in northern France. Collected mostly during the 19thcentury this comprises for the most part a collection of weapons as we’ll assome rare pieces such as the Tupuanu mask from the Mortlock islands donated byAlphonse Pinart. There are also a numberof ancestor statuettes and objects for everyday or ceremonial use, such as afine statue from the Marquesas islands representing a Tiki and a Maori warcanoe collected during the voyage of the Astrolabe in 1827 under the command ofDumont d’Urville.
Therichness of the local cultural and historical heritage is reflected in theLocal History Department. This covers the Roman period, ancient Bononia andGallo-Roman treasures, medieval statuary up the Napoleonic period and thefamous “Boulogne Camp.”
Archaologicaldigs from the 19th century and later have revealed much about thecity’s Roman and medieval periods.
In1926 the archaologist and collector of medieval artefacts Camille Enlart donatedover 1000 pieces from a personal collection, comprising items from the middleages to the Renaissance. Fragments of sculptures and architectural vestigesreveal the artistic power of northern French culture and in particularly theimportance the churches in and around Boulogne.
Thisdepartment also pays tribute to the Napoleonic period, in particular thepresence of the Emperor on the Opal Coast when he considered ways of staging aninvasion of England, as well as the illustrious ceremony on 16 August 1804 whenhe awarded the Legion d’Honneur to a large number of his troops. Incontrast, the museum also has a collection of caricatures published in Englandproviding a different take on these events.
TheFine Arts department encompasses a collection allowing the visitor to followthe evolution of painting since the 15th century, up to the 20thcentury. Notable works include the Virgil and child by the Master of SanMiniato, also Laban looking for idols by the Flemish mater Pieter Lastman, oneof Rembrandt’s teachers. You will alsofind an extensive collection of 19th century French paintings andsculptures which for the most part were included in a donation made in 1916 byCharles Lebeau. Among the works are paintings by Courbet, Corot, Boudin,Sisley, Rodin, Carpeaux and Gallé. There are also works by local artistsrevealing the richness of art in thisregion in the 19th century.The pictureaue lifestyle and traditions of the Pas de Calais are shownin works by Virginie Demont-Breton, Auguste Delacroix and Jean-Charles Cazin.The exhibition concludes with a series of artworks donated in 2008 by theabstract artist Georges Mathieu, who originated from Boulogne. The artworks exhibited here are testimony tothe changing trends in art between 1950 up to 1990, including the idea of fastgestures, linear symbols which recall Chinese calligraphy, or patches ofcolours, projections and spray-painted works inspired by the “Tachist”approach.
Originallyopened in 1825, the museum has several rich collections, some of which areunique in Europe:
Antiquitiesfrom ancient Rome and Gaul,
Artsof Oceania and Africa,
The Georges Mathieu collection.
Visits and opening hours:
The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Phone: +33 (0)3 21 10 02 20