Cherishing its past, while enjoying its wide range of advantages to the full.
This could be the motto of Le Portel, a former fishing port turned seaside resort, in an exceptional natural environment. Today, the town surfs on all its assets at once, attracting families, lovers of maritime heritage and nature enthusiasts. Or all three at the same time…
Le Portel, with the sea at its heart
Sheltered by the Bay of Boulogne, Le Portel lived from coastal fishing until the advent of steam and the development of the port of Boulogne led to its decline at the beginning of the 20th Century. Fortunately, the fashion for sea bathing had arrived in force in the meantime, offering Le Portel a new future as a seaside resort.
The Notre-Dame de Boulogne monument, which stands on the Quai de la Vierge, is one of the symbols of this cherished maritime past. But there are many others. The modest fishermen’s houses, lined up on the seafront and all over town. The Flobart boats, which continue to set sail for the pure joy of bringing in sole, sea bass, mackerel, crabs and lobsters. The Les Barsiers Portelois boathouse. The tradition of mussel picking, around the Fort de l’Heurt. The flotilla festival at the beginning of July, with its Blessing of the Sea. Or the Alprech lighthouse, dominating the cape bearing the same name, which continues to keep watch over the sea.…
On the beach of Le Portel, swimming and water sports
As attached as it is to its traditions, Le Portel is also resolutely modern.
On its immense beach, a kilometre and a half of fine sand against a backdrop of wind turbines, you can relax and enjoy a dip. But you can also take part in various water sports, such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing or bodyboarding, offered by the Porteloise Surfing Association.
Unless you prefer quieter pleasures, such as sipping a drink right on the beach, with your feet in the sand. Or eating a “moules-frites” at a table in one of the restaurants with sea views, in a friendly, informal atmosphere.
Highlighting the natural environment of Le Portel
But Le Portel has also been blessed by Mother Nature. The Chemin des Douaniers trail, which allows you to reach Equihen-Plage in about an hour, unveils sublime wild creeks and offers enchanting scenery.
Also perched above the sea, the Parc de la Falaise unfolds 27 hectares of nature, arranged in two parts. One section has been kept wild in order to preserve biodiversity, and is home to 255 species of birds as well as donkeys, ponies, goats and sheep.…
Le Portel, astonishing heritage
And what about the magical views from the top of Cap d’Alprech, near the lighthouse and the fort? Because yes, Le Portel also has an amazing military heritage. There is the Fort d’Alprech, built around 1875 to protect the port of Boulogne, which can be visited during the summer season… There is the fort of Couppes. And above all there is the Fort de l’Heurt, set in the open sea, defying the waves at high tide. Built in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte, who was preparing an invasion of England, then remilitarised by the Germans during the Second World War, only the ruins of this fort remain today on the rocky outcrop of L’Heurt. At low tide, this is a popular place to walk along the beach of Le Portel, acting like a bridge between the different charms of the city.