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Boulogne is a working town, and France's busiest fishing port. But, it also used to be where all the ferries came in from the UK, so many Brits will know it. And many think it's a lot prettier than Calais - indeed some of the best places to stay in Boulogne can be found in the elegant centre of the town.
Despite being bombed extensively during WW2, the oldest bit of Boulogne - within the walls of the medieval castle that sits on the hill - survived. The rebuilt section is now referred to as the New Town and spreads to the riverside and the coast.
Within the castle's walls are Boulogne's Cathedral, the belfry, Town Hall and of course the castle, a 13th Century moated chateau. It's incredibly picturesque in the summer when the moat's filled with water lilies. The castle is now a museum. In the crypt of the Cathedral are stone cannon balls belonging to the army of Henry VIII, who once besieged this city. The walls and ramparts are also worth investigating.
As you'd hope from France's largest fishing port, Boulogne has an excellent food market that specialises in seafood. It runs Wednesdays and Saturdays. There's also an impressive aquarium.
You'll find some nice beaches at Equihen, Le Portel and Hardelot. And just outside of Boulogne is a monument commemorating Napoleon's successful invasion of England…All of our recommendations for the best places to stay in Boulogne are well situated to make the most of all this!
What Not To Miss
- Take the whole family to Nausicaa National Sea Centre, Europe's largest complex devoted entirely to marine life. With over 1,000 different species of creatures and 50 aquariums, you're bound to be impressed!
- Be sure to wander around the 19th century Notre Dame de Boulogne Cathedral. With lovely architecture and a large crypt, there's also an incredibly impressive dome.
- Head up the Beffroi, (or belfry), and enjoy lovely views over the city from the top.
- The Chateau Musee is, as you might've guessed, a museum set in a 13th century chateau. The exhibition is wonderfully varied, incorporating artefacts from all over the world - even a few from Alaska! Lovely and eclectic.
Don't forget that the best places to stay in Boulogne will be especially busy during the peak summer months. So if you're planning to visit or pass through in July or August, get organised and book early.
For central location
- If you want to stay somewhere central to make the most the town's history, book a room at Enclos de L'Eveche. It's an intimate townhouse hotel with only five rooms. Simple, elegant and reasonably priced, its family suite means it's also good for families.
For great value
- If you're on a budget Hotel La Matelote is one of the best places to stay in Boulogne. It's more of a restaurant with rooms. Neat, slightly masculine rooms, decorated in red and golds. The restaurant is next door and has a Michelin star. So this is also one of the best places to stay in Boulogne for foodies.
For the beach
- If you're hoping for a beach break try the Atlantic Hotel. It's just along the coast from town, on a far nicer stretch of beach. Its charming Art Deco facade makes it memorable, but you'll also remember the spectacular sunsets. And possibly the seafood.
For a country escape
- Just out of town amid beautiful countryside you'll find La Ferme du Vert. Here they offer charming rooms and suites, some of which can sleep up to five (great for families). There's also a great restaurant.
- Chateau de la Marine is another good out of town choice. It's a lovely B&B with luxurious bedrooms and there's table d'hotes style dinners too.
For An Apartment Or Villa
- If you think you'd be best served by a self-catering option then check out the wide variety available with our partner, booking.com.
- Boulogne's fairly nippy during the winter months but enjoys lovely weather in the summer, with July and August experiencing an average temperature of 17°C.
- That said, this is peak season and so expect there to be a fair number of tourists whilst accommodation will also be more expensive.
- Boulogne's not very well served by airports, so you're probably better off taking another mode of transport unless you're coming from very far afield.
- There are a number of ferries from Dover to Calais run by DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries. Once in Calais, there's a bus linking the ferry port to the main station where you can take a train to Boulogne.
- Alternatively, you can take the Eurostar from St Pancras to Calais (taking between 50 minutes and just over 2 hours) before then heading down to Boulogne.
- For car hire prices, we recommend you visit our online partner Rentalcars.
Still not sure which is the hotel for you?
Best Hotels in Boulogne
Chateau de la Marine 4 rooms from £167Boulogne
A glorious chateau-come-B&B near the charming seaside resort of Wimereux. The stylish rooms feature refined furniture and tasteful artworks. Let them know if you would like evening meals in the enchanting dining room. The perfect stopping point for a trip through Wimille.Country Escape - Set in a stunning parkland estate, just five minutes from the seaside resort of Wimereux, it's perfect for a country getaway.Great walks - Make the most of the beautiful walking in the surrounding parkland estate.Secluded setting - For escaping.
Hotel La Matelote 35 rooms from £177Boulogne
A cosy restaurant with rooms. Bedrooms and reception rooms are smartly furnished with red and gold decoration and mahogany furniture. The ground floor harbours a small pool and jacuzzi although it's all about the restaurant here. The michelin star outlet is famed for seafood. Unmissable.Foodies - The focus is on quality local produce at Tony Lestienne's Michelin starred on site restaurant.Sights nearby - Boulogne-sur-Mer has the nations's largest fishing port great for a visit and for sampling seafood.Great walks - Grab a packed lunch and take a stroll on the 12 kilometer long beach.Swimming Pool - Small indoor pool
Hotel Atlantic 18 rooms from £211Boulogne
Excellent seafood and spectacular sunsets at this Art Deco seafront hotel. Contemporary rooms with floor to ceiling windows that let in lots of natural light and offer spectacular views. The fantastic restaurant serves fresh fish of the day. An all encompassing seaside hotel.Beach Life - Situated in the charming seaside town of Wimereux, each room overlooks the sea right on your doorstep.Foodies - An excellent restaurant featuring classic french cuisine with a focus on regional seafood.Great walks - Long stretches of sandy beaches make for great post dinner walks.Sights nearby - Visit the interesting historical sight of Fort de la Creche.
Enclos de L'Eveche 5 rooms from £66Boulogne
An elegant townhouse hotel in the centre of Boulogne with an intimate atmosphere. Simple but elegant bedrooms and one family suite with parquet floors and high ceilings. Great value for families and friends visiting the city or stopping off to or from the ferry.Private Hot Tub - Some of the rooms are equipped with jacuzzi bath tubsSights nearby - Right in the centre of BoulogneLocal markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - Sawdays
La Ferme Du Vert 16 rooms from £66Boulogne
An attractive stone farmhouse hotel and restaurant in a rural village. Bedrooms and suites can sleep up to five people. All decorated in warm earthy colours with parquet floors, white washed walls, and wooden beams.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.Great walks - Good for walkers.Local markets - Good for local colour.