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What to see in Dieppe, Normandy

Harbour with boats in at Dieppe, Normandy

Dieppe is a fishing and channel port along the Alabaster Coast of Normandy. The town sits astride the river Arques and is a popular seaside and tourist resort.

Things to do in Dieppe

Pebble beach, cliffs of the Alabaster Coast in the background, Dieppe, Normandy

Dieppe is famous for its scallops and has a popular pebble beach. In the centre there is some fine architecture, especially the churches of Saint-Jacques and Saint-Remi. And, there is a 15th century castle close to the beach.

Dieppe was founded in 1030. The small fishing port was a strategic target during the Hundred Years war and was famous for its school of cartography and navigation in the 16th Century where two of France’s best seaman, Michel le Vasseur and his brother Thomas were educated. They were both pioneers of early sea expeditions to the New World.

The great castle, Chateau de Dieppe, now a museum, focuses on Dieppe’s maritime history as well as housing a collection of paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. It has a large collection of ivory carvings and folding fans, and objects created by sailors at sea during the great days of world discovery. The interior courtyard in the chateau is lovely.

In a park close to the chateau at the western end of the Esplanade you’ll find the Square du Canada. Here there is a memorial in honour of the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers during “Operation Jubillee, the Raid on Dieppe, World War II. There is a museum dedicated to Operation Jubilee in the town, you’ll find it in the municipal theatre.

The Alabaster Coast has long lured painters to capture its light. For the impressionist artists in particular, Dieppe was a favourite. Monet, Renoir and Sisley often came to paint here.

Street in the old town of Dieppe in Normandy lined with tall buildings and many shops

The promenade on the seafront has excellent bars, shops and restaurants and the pebble beach is easy to walk across and can be very refreshing on a breezy day. Dieppe is an active fishing port and it’s fun to watch the activities of the fishermen.

There are tours of Dieppe by “petit train”, plenty of water sports, and you can take to the sea and enjoy boat rides with fishermen, on a cruise, kayaks etc.

Seafood is in the spotlight at restaurants in Dieppe and there’s plenty of choice as well as some great bars and cafés. The Saturday morning market was a contender for best Market in France, and is one of the most famous markets in Normandy.

You can easily spend a day or two here, great for an overnight stop if you’re using the ferry service to the UK and for exploring the local area.

Bob Lyons is an ex-pilot turned travel writer with a penchant for roaming in France…

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