On our way to hunt for food, we happened upon the incredible ‘Chateau de Boulogne sur Mer‘ – hunger could wait!
The grounds were absolutely magnificent, primarily naturally grown but well maintained, gorgeous vines and pink flowers.
The moat was partially drained and turned into a breathtaking public park. Currently the castle functions primarily as a museum, though in the past it has been everything from a personal residence to a prison.
During WWII, Hitler designated Boulogne a ‘fortress’ state because of the impressive château. It was one of the places he had planned to stand down, along with a few of the other fortified cities throughout France.
The 13th century castle courtyard was equally as stunning as the grounds, with its cobble stone square and beautifully maintained court homes.
On one wall of the court was a plaque dedicated to Canadians from WWII telling of a fascinating story filled with danger and surreptitiousness.
An unknown, heroic Boulognaise man, led Canadian troops through a secret entrance to the Citadel in the castle court – enabling them to retake the fortress from German hands.
The town was seized in May of 1940, and recaptured by the Canadian allies on September 22, 1944. With our morning tour of Vimy Ridge, it had really been a powerful day of remembering.
The most excited I have ever seen my husband during our travels is captured in the above photo. He says;
F’ Ya! Look at this! An awesome castle, a moat and even a f*%#ing DRAWBRIDGE!
We wandered the castle, its court and the yards (starving!) for at least two hours, and vowed to return before we departed Boulogne.
We were entirely overwhelmed with excitement at our ‘random find’. It couldn’t have happened at a better time for us, having been weary of France and attempting to leave with bad memories.
Weary no more, we felt refreshed and madly in love with legendary France – and we hadn’t even entered town yet!
Many additional photos in the slideshow.