Notre-Dame Basilica, a historical site to discover near Nausicaá

Nowhere else will you be able to see such a building as this!


You could say in jest that it has stood the test of time without incident and that its architecture is a model of gothic art but that would not only be untrue, it would above all rob it of all its character! Boulogne-sur-Mer's Notre-Dame Basilica breaks the norm and that's what makes it so charming. Inspired by Saint Paul's in London, Saint Peter's in Rome, the Panthéon and Les Invalides in Paris, its architecture is a curiosity in its own right. Unclassifiable, Notre-Dame de Boulogne-sur-Mer astounds with its unique eclectic style. Its double-drum dome culminates at a height of 101 metres, a landmark if you want to explore the gems of the upper town!

At its origin: a miracle

The history of Notre-Dame is worthy of a Ken Follet novel! According to legend, a boat without a crew or sails, carrying a statue of the Virgin landed in Boulogne in the 7th century. As the boat ran aground, the Virgin appeared to some of the locals. From then on, the town became a major place of pilgrimage, one of the most important in Europe in the Middle Ages. During the crusades, knights passed through Boulogne to have their swords blessed before setting out for Jerusalem. Saint-Louis, Louis XI, François Ier, Henri VIII, Louis XIV, Napoléon III… No less than fourteen kings of France and five kings of England came here in person to pray!

Fabulous treasures

It was in the 11th century, that Saint Ide had a church built to honour the Vierge Nautonière (Virgin at the Helm) replacing a smaller sanctuary. Destroyed and plundered several times, Notre-Dame was rebuilt in its current state in the 19th century by abbot Haffreingue. And to say the least, the abbot-architect (self-taught!) saw things on a large scale for his beautiful accomplishment. The exterior may astonish, but the interior also houses its share of surprises: the high altar of the Princes Torlonia, a masterpiece of 19th century Italian mosaic, consisting of 147 varieties of marble and precious metals, the statue of King David, the Great Organ Case, the sacred heart altarpiece, a pulpit, frescoes… Not to forget its unique crypt, one of the largest in France, which alone is worth a visit.

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