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The coastal town of Wimille is in the department of Pas-de-Calais in Northern France, 10 miles north of Boulogne-sur-Mer forming part of the attractive Côte d’Opale. It lies on the banks of the river Wimereux on the perimeter of the Boulonnais Nature Park. Rich in history and natural beauty, Wimille is within easy reach of the Channel Tunnel and the ports of Calais and Boulogne. It is only 3 miles from the seaside town of Wimereux and half an hour’s drive to Le Touquet. Roughly 4,000 residents live in the town who are known locally as Wimillois.
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Following the Gallic Wars, the Romans occupied Gaul for nearly 300 years and this part of the Nord Pas-de-Calais region was known as Belgian Gaul.
In 1804 Napoleon set up a camp for 180,000 soldiers between Boulogne and Wimille in preparation for his invasion to England (which never occurred). In 1805 the formation of the 3rd coalition led to a war against Prussia.
During World War I the area surrounding Wimille housed numerous hospitals and other medical establishments to cope with the human tragedies of war. The British established their headquarters in Montreuil-sur-mer about 40 km along the coast. World War II saw extensive bombing in the surrounding towns and there was heavy resistance during the German occupation which ended in 1944.
The Column of the Grande Armée or Colonne Napoléon, is a 53 metre high triumphal column on the Rue Napoléon,Wimille. It commemorates the first inauguration of the Imperial Légion d’Honneur at the Camp de Boulogne by Napoleon to the soldiers of the English army. The first stone was laid in September 1804, made from local Marquis marble, amidst great festivities and celebrations. The column was declared a ‘monument historique’ on 31 March 1905 and survived the first World War, however it was seriously damaged by bombing in 1944 and the park around the column was turned into a German naval cemetery. The original statue was replaced in 1962 and features Napoleon in his familiar ‘chasseur’ uniform. Well worth a visit to learn about its history and a photographic opportunity.
Terlincthun British Cemetery is on the outskirts of Boulogne and was started in June 1918. There are now 4,378 memorials to Commonwealth troops from World War I and several other nationalities, including many Germans. During the Second World War between 1940 and 1944, there was continuous fighting in the area and Wimille was devasted when the garrison at Boulogne fought a fierce delaying action to cover the withdrawal to Dunkirk.
Wandering through the town you will see the 12th century church of St. Pierre, a 16th century chapel and an interesting 17th century drinking fountain.
Walking along the cliff paths is a popular pastime and there are several cycle routes along the coast. The Côte d’Opale stretches from Calais to Berck-sur-mer and offers a fascinating tour along the coastline with some golden sandy beaches, rocky bays and, further inland, forestry and agricultural farmland. Several of the long beaches nearby offer wind surfing and sand yachting.
Wimereux Golf Club is 5 km from Wimille. Facilities for tennis and watersports are also available nearby.
Cité Europe, one of the largest shopping complexes in France, is only 5 miles from Wimille with 147 retail outlets including a huge hypermarket, fashion shops, restaurants, a cinema and a bowling alley.
Accommodation & Restaurants
Le Château de la Marine (18 Route de Rupembert, Wimille) offers bed and breakfast in peaceful surroundings with a large park and a sea view. Evening meals are served in an attractive dining room overlooking the garden and some of the rooms have a terrace. This recently renovated château is full of character and gives a warm welcome to visitors who are looking for local charm and fine cuisine.
La Bonne Idee, 68 Rue de l’Aiglon has an excellent reputation for traditional French cuisine in the centre of the town.
La Petit Brocante, 2 Rue de Ledinghen – typical rustic French restaurant with first class food. Good wine list and friendly service. Popular with local residents, it is advisable to book in advance.
Wimille-Wimereux rail station is connected by TER to Boulogne and Calais from where trains to Paris and Bruges are frequent.
The A16 Highway links the town to the Channel Ports.