Montreuil-sur-Mer: a gorgeous little town overflowing with Gallic charm. Less than an hour’s drive from Calais…
Montreuil-sur-Mer is in fact no longer on the sea as the name implies, the tide went out centuries ago and never came back thanks to silting, but it is full of traditional French buildings and cobblestone squares, and packed with history.
A walk through the main square will take you to a statue of British war commander General Haig, in commemoration of the town having been the headquarters of the British Army during the First World War. The statue is a replica of the original, which was removed by the Germans in the Second World War and never recovered.
For yet older history, take a walk around Montreuil’s medieval ramparts, which were built by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban when he organised the fortification of northern France during the 17th century. The walk round the ramparts is 3km in total and at a gentle pace takes about 45 minutes, but you don’t have to walk it all. Take a stroll, and on a sunny day you can see for miles around you to stunning countryside. For a small fee you can also visit the citadel, to experience more of Montreuil’s history.
If you are in Montreuil in July or August make sure to see the local production of Les Misérables, which will take your breath away with its spectacular show. Montreuil-sur-Mer, of course, is the setting for part of Les Misérables, and Victor Hugo spent several holidays there.
Stop in one of the traditional cafes for a drink and a bite to eat, or browse in the shops selling all sorts of beautiful items and enjoy the sights of perfect patisseries in the boulangerie windows or the fabulos fromagerie and specialist chocolate shops like Beussent.
This is a town to lose yourself in, and a town you will want to come back to!