Dieppe, France Hotels, Resorts & Hotel Accommodations

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DIEPPE
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Dieppe is a town and commune in the Seine-Maritime department and Haute-Normandie region of France. At the 1999 census the town had 34,653 inhabitants (Dieppois), while the population of the whole Dieppe urban area (aire urbaine) was 81,419. A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled beach, a 15th-century castle and the churches of Saint Jacques and Saint Rémi. read full wikipedia reference about Dieppe, France

Crowded between high cliff headlands, DIEPPE is an enjoyably small-scale port that used to be more of a resort. During the nineteenth century, Parisians came here by train to take the sea air, promenading along the front while the English colony indulged in the peculiar pastime of swimming. These days, it's not a place many travellers go out of their way to visit, but it's one of the nicer ferry ports in northern France, and you're unlikely to regret to spending an afternoon or evening here before or after a Channel crossing. With kids in tow, the aquariums of the Cité de la Mer are the obvious attraction; otherwise, you could settle for admiring the cliffs and the castle as you stroll the extravagant seafront lawns. Meanwhile, the business of the port goes on as ever, with Dieppe's commercial docks unloading half the bananas of the Antilles and forty percent of all shellfish destined to slither down French throats. The markets sell fish right off the boats, displayed with the usual Gallic flair, and the sole, scallops and turbot available in profusion at the restaurants may well tempt you to stay.

Modern Dieppe is still laid out along the three axes dictated by its eighteenth-century town planners, though these central streets have become a little run-down, and are in any case left in continual shadow. The boulevard de Verdun runs for over a kilometre along the seafront, from the fifteenth-century castle in the west to the port entrance, and passes the Casino, along with the grandest and oldest hotels. A short way inland, parallel to the seafront, is the rue de la Barre and its pedestrianized continuation, the Grande Rue . Along the harbour's edge, an extension of the Grande Rue, quai Henry IV has a colourful backdrop of cafés, brasseries and restaurants.

The place du Puits Salé , dominated by the huge Café des Tribunaux , is at the centre of the old town. Currently looking very spruce following a lavish restoration, the café was built as an inn towards the end of the seventeenth century, and briefly became Dieppe's town hall after the previous one was bombarded by the British in 1694. In the late nineteenth century, it was favoured by painters and writers such as Renoir, Monet, Sickert, Whistler and Pissarro. For English visitors, its most evocative association is with the exiled and unhappy Oscar Wilde, who drank here regularly. It's now a cavernous café, the haunt of college students and open until after midnight.

As for monuments, the obvious place to start is the medieval castle overlooking the seafront from the west, home of the Musée de Dieppe and two showpiece collections (June-Sept daily 10am-noon & 2-6pm; rest of year closed Tues). The first collection is a group of carved ivories - virtuoso pieces of sawing, filing and chipping of the plundered riches of Africa, shipped back to the town by early Dieppe "explorers". The other permanent exhibition is made up of a hundred or so prints by the co-founder of Cubism, Georges Braque, who went to school in Le Havre, spent summers in Dieppe and is buried just west of the town at Varengeville-sur-Mer .

An exit from the western side of the castle takes you out onto a path up to the cliffs . On the other side, a flight of steps leads down to the square du Canada , originally named in commemoration of the role played by Dieppe sailors in the colonization of Canada. Now a small plaque is dedicated to the Canadian soldiers who died in the suicidal 1942 raid on Dieppe, justified later as a trial run for the 1944 Normandy landings.

The Cité de la Mer , at 37 rue de l'Asile-Thomas, just back from the harbour, sets out simultaneously to entertain children and to serve as a centre for scientific research, and succeeds in both without being all that interesting for the casual adult visitor (daily 10am-noon & 2-6pm). Kids are certain to enjoy learning the principles of navigation by operating radio-controlled boats. Thereafter, the museum traces the history of sea-going vessels, featuring a Viking drakkar under construction, following methods depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. Next comes a very detailed geological exhibition covering the formation of the local cliffs, in which you learn how to convert shingle into sandpaper. Visits culminate with large aquariums filled with the marine life of the Channel: flat fish with bulbous eyes and twisted faces, retiring octopuses, battling lobsters and hermaphrodite scallops (the white part is male, the orange, female). Thanks to a typical lack of sentimentality, jars of fish soup, whose exact provenance is not made explicit, are on sale at the exit.

  

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