Dieppe - French-style 'kiss-me-quick'
Dieppe is a part of France where any visitor to the more popular southern English beach resorts would see some similarities.
Sure, instead of 'fish and chips' there are 'moules frites' (mussels and chips, a speciality of northern France) on the menu, and the 'tea like mother makes it' turns into a carafe of white wine. But, for a French town, Dieppe has a bold and brassy ferry port and fisherman's air to it... and is none the worse for it.
Café in Dieppe town centre
Of course, Dieppe has a lot more to offer - see below - but it is a Channel port and resort with miles of beaches and plenty of restaurants and bars and has the consequent weekend stream of traffic in the town which hails from the bigger cities nearby.
The History of Dieppe
There was originally a Roman encampment located near Dieppe, but the name of the town comes from the later settlement by the Vikings. Dieppe comes from the Norse word for 'deep', referring to the good harbour that they had discovered for their trade and warships.
The importance of the town increased after the Norman invasion of England, with the cross-Channel communications and commerce, but it also meant that the town fell victim to the regular wars between the English and French kingdoms and it was destroyed or badly damaged a number of times.
Dieppe was always a prominent maritime town and navigators and explorers that set sail from here played a major part in the French expansion into Africa, Asia and the Americas.
After the end of Napoleon's rule at the start of the 19th century and the restoration of the monarchy, the concept of a seaside resort for the leisured classes started to take hold. Dieppe became one of the first of these resorts popularised by the nobility, but the ease of access provided by rail connections soon democratised the 'seaside holiday' and also attracted a healthy number of the artists and writers who lived within reach.
The Dieppe Raid and Canada
Dieppe had been occupied by German forces in 1940. Two years later, the Allied forces attempted a major seaborne attack on the town known as Operation Jubilee (and commonly referred to as the Dieppe Raid).
The raid, which consisted mainly of Canadian troops with smaller detachments of British commandos and American Rangers, was a disaster despite the bravery of many of the participants. More than three and a half thousand Allied troops were killed, wounded or captured. The Allied air forces, which had wanted to draw German aircraft into a pitched aerial combat, also suffered heavy losses.
Monument to soldiers who took part in Dieppe Raid
Wartime leaders such as Mountbatten later claimed that the raid contributed to the success of the subsequent Normandy landings.
More than 700 Canadian soldiers are buried in the military cemetery to the south of the town, as well as more than 200 other nationalities. The town of Dieppe in the Canadian province of New Brunswick was named to commemorate the raid (it had been called Léger's Corner previously) and the similarly-sized communities have a town twinning arrangement between them.
Things to See in Dieppe
As well as the long and popular beachfront area and the crowded cafes and restaurants around the harbour, Dieppe has plenty to see and do resulting from its eventful history.
The Vieux Château is located to the west of the town in an elevated position on a hill. These fortifications were originally started in the 14th century on the site of earlier efforts to protect the town against raids from the sea. The castle was expanded in the 15th century after Dieppe was liberated from English occupation.
As the threat from invasion disappeared in the centuries that followed, the castle became a residence for the local bigwigs, a barracks for troops stationed on the coast and, during the French Revolution, a jail for political opponents. It was eventually purchased by the town after the First World War and now acts as a museum and art gallery.
The museum has an important collection of ivory and pieces from the town's maritime history, as well as a display of various works from the artists who painted the northern Norman coast in the 19th century. The castle is open every day of the year apart from main public holidays.
Church of St Jacques
The Église St-Jacques is at the heart of the Quartier St-Jacques, the market area of Dieppe, and on the old pilgrimage trail (Chemin de St. Jacques) to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
It was built on the site of an older church in the 13th century and was extended in the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as later in the 19th century.
Church of St Rémy
The Èglise Saint-Rémy was constructed later than its neighbour. It is located between the castle and the Church of St Jacques.
Work started in the 16th century and was continued in the next century. Intervening wars, revolutions and bombardments meant that it was only finally completed in the 19th century.
These are the surviving towers of the old fortifications around the town which were originally built in the 14th century to protect the population. The towers would have been the western port gateway.
Dieppe France - Hotels and Other Accommodation
1 Boulevard de Verdun
Tel: 02 35 84 31 31
A four-star hotel with great sea views located on the beachfront with the Aquatic Centre in front of it. Consistently highly-rated by visitors.
20 Boulevard de Verdun
Tel: 02 35 84 18 28
Small and friendly two-star hotel again with great sea views further along the main beach road in the direction of the harbour.
Where to stay in Dieppe
Enter the dates of any proposed stay and use the '+' and '-' signs on the map below to scroll in to see more accommodation or out to see further accommodation in the Dieppe area. Click on the prices for more information about the accommodation.
Dieppe Facts and Travel Information
Dieppe is a large working port on the coast of Upper Normandy in the Seine-Maritime department. It has a declining population of around 33,000.
It is one of the major Channel ferry connections with the UK, with a service to and from Newhaven, although this has been subsidised by the local French administration.
Dieppe has what the the tourist office describes as a 'charter of friendship' with the town of Dieppe in Canada (see above in Dieppe Raid and Canada). It has close links to English city of Brighton (also one of the first beach resorts), although is not twinned as Brighton and Hove authority has an official policy against town twinning.
For visitors to Dieppe from across the Channel, the easiest connection is via the sea, with a regular service from the south coast of the UK. For those already in Normandy or who are arriving from other parts of Europe or France, the road and rail connections to the south link into a good train and motorway network.
Dieppe by Road
Being on the north coast limits the number of directions that Dieppe can be reached from:
- the A151 to the south
This is the main access road from most parts of the country. The A151 heads south until it reaches the A29 motorway, which runs from east to west linking Dieppe with Le Havre and Amiens and other northern ports. Continuing on A151 eventually brings the driver to Rouen.
- the D925 along the coast
This is a rural coastal road for those who want to enjoy the country scenery around Dieppe and to take a meandering route along the coast to Fécamp and Étretat.
Local bus services in the town and surrounding district are provided by Stradibus. A long-distance bus service through to Paris via Serqueux and Gisors is provided by TER.
Dieppe by Rail
Dieppe Railway Station is located just to the south of the tourist harbour area of Dieppe.
There is only one very important route and that is the line that goes through to the Rouen Rive-Droite railway station and connects into the services from Rouen to Paris and other parts of France:
- Dieppe - Auffay - Rouen
Dieppe by Air
The local airport - Dieppe - Saint-Aubin - is really only an aerodrome suitable for private or small charter flights. There are no scheduled passenger services into the airport, which is situated to the south of Dieppe.
As with many locations in Upper Normandy, the most accessible way to fly in is to use one of the Paris airports and then use road or rail. Paris - Charles de Gaulle Airport is the main international airport and is located just over 200km from Dieppe via the quickest (although not the shortest!) route.
Dieppe by Ferry
Dieppe's ferry services come in on the other side of the main harbour from the town. Services run twice a day all year round to Newhaven, the traditional connection. In summer, the ferry service run by DFDS Seaways increases frequency to three a day.
Dieppe Tourist Office
The Dieppe tourist office is located near the tourist port and the railway station.
Office de Tourisme
Pont Jehan Ango - Quai du Carénage
Tel.: 02 32 14 40 60
Website : www.dieppetourisme.com