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The city of Boulogne: Home of Nausicaa Aquarium

Immerse yourself in the charming city of Boulogne, France, a place teeming with rich history and vibrant life. Uncover the urban allure, marvel at the magnificent Boulogne Zoo, and dive into the captivating underwater world at Nausicaa Aquarium. Let us guide you through the ultimate city excursion and aquatic adventure in one!


Nestled on the northern coast of France, Boulogne-sur-Mer, often simply referred to as Boulogne, is a city steeped in rich history and brimming with cultural charm. Known as the “City of Art and History,” Boulogne is a mesmerizing blend of old and new, where cobblestone streets meet modern cityscapes.

It’s a place where each turn holds a new surprise, from the well-preserved medieval castle to the bustling fish markets. But among its many attractions, the Nausicaa Aquarium stands as a gleaming beacon, drawing visitors from around the globe into its captivating aquatic world. Dive with us into the heart of Boulogne, as we take you on an unforgettable journey through time, culture, and under the sea.

Attractions in Boulogne

Boulogne-sur-Mer is more than just a city; it’s a time capsule that whisks you back to the middle ages and then propels you into the thrumming heart of the contemporary world. Marvel at the towering presence of the Basilica of Notre-Dame, where the old and new towns converge. This magnificent 19th-century cathedral is a testament to Neo-Gothic architecture and houses a crypt reputed to be the largest in France.

The city’s ancient fortifications are another must-see, encapsulating Boulogne’s rich military history. Here, you can stroll along the city’s ramparts, offering stunning views over the city and the sea. With the stunning Château de Boulogne nestled at its heart, the fortified city is a treasure trove of history. This 13th-century castle now hosts the Château Muséum, where exquisite collections of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts await your discovery.

However, the city isn’t just about historical wonders. Boulogne is also renowned for its vibrant markets – a sensory delight of fresh produce, artisan cheeses, and the day’s catch from the bustling port.

The Port of Boulogne is, in fact, the leading fishing port in France, and visitors can explore the quayside, watch the boats arrive and depart, and sample some of the freshest seafood dishes at local restaurants. The city truly offers an alluring blend of history, culture, and gastronomy that leaves visitors longing for more.

A group of people observing a manta ray in an aquarium.

The Boulogne Oceanarium (Nausicaa Aquarium )

True to its reputation, the Nausicaa Aquarium (also known as Boulogne Zoo) is a stunning testament to marine life conservation and education. It holds the distinction of being one of the largest aquariums in Europe with over 1,600 species amidst a staggering 10 million litres of water, replete with marine fauna from all around the globe.

A visit to Nausicaa transports you into a mesmerising underwater world, allowing you to marvel at the majestic sea lions, playful penguins, ethereal jellyfish, and the awe-inspiring sharks that call the aquarium home.

Designed to mimic the natural habitat of each species, the aquarium provides a unique opportunity to learn about the delicate balance of marine ecosystems and the crucial role they play in our world. The aquarium is divided into several thematic areas, including the Tropical Lagoon, the Temperate Zone, and the Polar World, each offering a distinct experience. Nausicaa is more than a display of marine life; it’s an immersive journey that brings visitors face-to-face with some of the ocean’s most fascinating and elusive creatures.

At the heart of Nausicaa Aquarium is a commitment to inspire and educate. Through interactive exhibits and engaging educational programs, the aquarium fosters a greater understanding of the conservation issues facing our oceans today.

From informative exhibits on the effects of pollution and overfishing to the importance of biodiversity, Nausicaa promotes conscious and informed stewardship of the marine world. Dive into Nausicaa Aquarium and emerge with a newfound appreciation for the magic and mystery of our oceans.

boulogne has a rich history

History of the city of Boulogne

Boulogne-sur-Mer boasts a rich tapestry of history that dates back to Roman times. The city’s foundations were laid around 1800 BC, originally known as Gesoriacum, and later renamed to Bononia by the Romans.

Over the centuries, it has been a strategic location of great importance, acting as a vital link between mainland Europe and Britain. During the Roman era, it served as a fortified settlement, where the grandeur of Roman architectural prowess can still be seen in the city’s well-preserved ramparts.

In the medieval period, the city grew in prominence both religiously and commercially. The construction of its grand basilica and the establishment of the fortified castle, Château de Boulogne, were landmarks of this era. The city’s status as a major port intensified as it became a hub for the English wool trade, which laid the groundwork for its eventual evolution into France’s leading fishing port.

The city’s history took a tumultuous turn during the World Wars, especially World War II, when it suffered significant damage during the German occupation. Despite the trials, Boulogne-sur-Mer emerged resilient, rebuilding itself while preserving its historical essence. Today, the city stands as a symbol of France’s enduring spirit, a perfect blend of historical treasures and modern charisma.

The vivid culture of Boulogne

Boulogne-sur-Mer’s culture is a vibrant tapestry, where the echoes of the past blend seamlessly with the vivacious rhythm of the present. The city pulsates with a rich cultural life, evidenced through a calendar teeming with events and festivals that celebrate its diverse heritage.

The annual ‘Fête de la Mer,’ for instance, is a tribute to Boulogne’s maritime legacy, featuring a colourful parade of boats, traditional sea shanty performances and an impressive fireworks display.

The city is also a haven for art enthusiasts with the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts, hosting an array of works from classic to contemporary. The museum, nestled in the heart of the fortified city, showcases collections that span centuries of artistic evolution, including masterpieces from renowned artists such as Rembrandt and Picasso. Not to forget, the city’s vibrant street art scene, where murals and graffiti breathe life into Boulogne’s urban landscapes.

Culinary traditions in Boulogne are deeply rooted in the city’s maritime history. A gastronomic journey through the city offers a cornucopia of seafood delights, from the humble fish and chips to the sophisticated bouillabaisse.

The city’s famed cheese, the Boursin, is a creamy delight that is a must-try for any food connoisseur. The city’s food markets, brimming with fresh local produce, are a testament to Boulogne’s celebration of its culinary heritage.

Food and drink in the city of Boulogne

Boulogne-sur-Mer is often considered the seafood capital of France, offering a culinary journey that’s deeply knitted to the rhythms of the sea. The city’s restaurants serve a delicious array of seafood dishes, capturing the essence of the Atlantic Ocean on the plate.

Specialities include “moules marinières”, mussels cooked in white wine and herbs, and “sole meunière”, a pan-fried sole in butter sauce. If you’re an adventurous eater, the local dish “harengs pommes à l’huile”, pickled herrings with potatoes, is a must-try.

You cannot visit Boulogne without experiencing its vibrant markets – a gastronomic celebration that will enchant your senses. The stalls are brimming with the day’s catch, accompanied by a plethora of local produce from the fertile lands of Pas-de-Calais. Look out for seasonal fruits, hand-picked vegetables, and the region’s famous cheese, the creamy and garlic-infused Boursin.

The city’s drinking culture is as rich as its food scene, offering a wonderful variety of local beers and wines. The region is particularly known for its beer, with local breweries creating artisanal ales that range from the light and crisp to the dark and robust.

The city’s bars and pubs are the perfect places to explore these flavours, often serving beer alongside tasty local snacks. Wine lovers won’t be disappointed either. The nearby region of Champagne-Ardenne is home to the world-famous Champagne, and many local restaurants boast an impressive selection of these sparkling wines.

Getting around in Boulogne

Getting around Boulogne-sur-Mer is an adventure in itself, offering a range of options that cater to your pace and preference. The city is pedestrian-friendly, with a compact city centre that hosts most of its iconic attractions. Meandering through Boulogne’s cobbled streets on foot is an enchanting experience, offering an intimate encounter with the city’s history and charm.

For longer distances, public transport is reliable and efficient. Boulogne’s bus network, operated by Marinéo, covers the city and its surrounding areas. Buses are frequent, making it a convenient mode of transport to explore different parts of the city.

For those who prefer the freedom of self-exploration, bicycles are available for hire, allowing you to navigate Boulogne at your own pace. With dedicated cycle paths weaving through the city, it’s a fun, eco-friendly way to explore the French coastal town. And if you’re planning a day trip to the surrounding cities or countryside, Boulogne boasts excellent rail and road connections, making it easy to expand your travel horizons.

Practical information about the city of Boulogne

When planning your visit to Boulogne-sur-Mer, there are a few practicalities to bear in mind. The city experiences a temperate maritime climate, with mild summers and chilly winters. The best time to visit is arguably from May to September, when the weather is most comfortable for outdoor explorations.

The city is easily accessible from various parts of France and other European countries. Boulogne-sur-Mer is just a half-hour drive from the Eurotunnel Calais terminal, making it convenient for travellers coming from the UK.

Regular trains from Paris and Lille also serve the city. Once in Boulogne, English is generally understood in most hotels and tourist spots, although some knowledge of French will undoubtedly enhance your experience.

Boulogne is not just rich in history and culture, but also across a wide range of modern amenities. It is well-equipped with a plethora of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from luxury hotels to comfortable B&Bs and self-catering apartments.

Free Wi-Fi is widely available in public areas, and most accommodations also offer this service. The city is generally safe for tourists, but like any other place, it’s advisable to take normal precautions to protect your belongings.


In the end, Boulogne-sur-Mer is far more than just a port city; it’s a vibrant cultural hub steeped in rich history and seafaring traditions. Its lively food and drink scene, renowned for exceptional seafood and local produce, offers a true taste of maritime France.

The city’s network of pedestrian-friendly streets and efficient public transport make it a joy to explore, and its modern amenities ensure a comfortable visit. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or just a traveller looking for your next adventure, Boulogne-sur-Mer promises a unique and enriching experience. So come and unearth the treasures this French coastal gem has to offer.