Dieppe

on the Normandy coast of France

Dieppe is one of those places that many pass through en route for other parts of France. A ferry port on the coast of Normandy, it once had more significance than today when the London to Paris boat train used the Newhaven to Dieppe route. Yet Dieppe is worth a visit in its own right.
Long ago Dieppe was part of England - the name Dieppe comes
supposedly from the English 'deep' as applied to its river. There are still signs of these links with England, and British visitors are made to feel welcome in hotels, shops and restaurants alike.

Although sea fishing has declined here as elsewhere, the town has a fishing tradition that is still evident from the quayside fish market that operates on some weekdays. There is a strong local emphasis on seafood, as well as the traditional cuisine of Normandy; many of the town's restaurants are located along the edge of the harbour, (much of which is now a marina).

The centre of Dieppe has a reasonable range of shops and hotels. The Café des Tribunaux near the middle of the main shopping street is a good place to sit and watch the French go by. Although modernised inside, the outside of the café looked much the same in invasion pictures taken at the end of WW2.
The main church - Saint Jacques - has been undergoing a facelift over recent years and the restored sections are imposing. We thought that the smaller Chappelle Notre Dame de Bonsecours perched on the cliffs overlooking the harbour and ferry port was more interesting. From here there are good views of the town and its waterfront, and a small café to shelter from the cliff top breeze. The chapelle - dedicated to those who have lost their lives at sea for generations past and decorated inside with model boats and memorials to the crews of vessels lost at sea - has a friendly feel to it.
Along the Dieppe sea front are several memorials to those that died during the Dieppe Raid of World War 2. The raid took place in August 1942, and it seems that there was no intention of holding on to any land won. The attack was carried out both as a 'trial invasion' and as a bluff to persuade the Germans that any later invasion would take place here, to the east of the actual invasion site.

Troops landed on the main beaches and also tried to scale the cliffs alongside the town, but they were quickly pinned down by defensive fire. The fighting lasted for only a matter of hours before the allied troops were forced to withdraw. By that time many had been killed - of the approximately 6,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen that took part more than 3,500 died or were lost. Most of the invading force were Canadian, and nearly 1,000 of the soldiers and sailors that lost their lives during the raid - again mostly Canadian - are buried at the Canadian Cemetery on the outskirts of the town.

The raid strengthened links between Dieppe and Canada, links that had been forged originally when the port was a major departure point for French Canada at the time of the colonisation of the 'New World'.

There are several websites giving greater detail about the Dieppe Raid - click here to visit one of them.
We travelled by Transmanche
Ferries from Newhaven - they operate a daily service throughout
the year.

We stayed at one of the hotels on the seafront - most have a sea view,
and are close to both shops and restaurants.
St Jacques
Chapelle Notre Dame
de Bonsecours
Memorials to the Dieppe Raid, on the seafront and in nearby gardens
The beach and cliffs at nearby
Puys - scene of some of the worst fighting during the Raid
After the end of the war the
beach area of Dieppe was largely rebuilt, and today it is a wide, open
seafront good for walking