Le Touquet

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Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Ech Toutchet-Paris-Plache
Beach of Le Touquet
Beach of Le Touquet
Coat of arms of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Location of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is located in France
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is located in Hauts-de-France
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Coordinates: 50°31′07″N 1°35′42″E / 50.5186°N 1.595000°E / 50.5186; 1.595000Coordinates: 50°31′07″N 1°35′42″E / 50.5186°N 1.595000°E / 50.5186; 1.595000
CountryFrance
RegionHauts-de-France
DepartmentPas-de-Calais
ArrondissementMontreuil
CantonÉtaples
IntercommunalityCA Deux Baies en Montreuillois
Government
 • Mayor (2020–2026) Daniel Fasquelle[1]
Area
1
15.31 km2 (5.91 sq mi)
Population
 (Jan. 2019)[2]
4,227
 • Density280/km2 (720/sq mi)
Demonym(s)Touquettois (masculine)
Touquettoise (feminine)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
62826 /62520
Elevation0–42 m (0–138 ft)
(avg. 5 m or 16 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage (French pronunciation: ​[lə tukɛ paʁi plaʒ]; Picard: Ech Toutchet-Paris-Plache; West Flemish: 't Oekske, older Dutch: Het Hoekske), commonly referred to as Le Touquet (/lə tʊk/), is a commune near Étaples, in the Pas-de-Calais department, northern France.[3] It has a population of 4,227 (2019),[4] but welcomes up to 250,000 people during the summer.[5]

Located on the Opal Coast, south of Boulogne-sur-Mer, on the shoreline of the English Channel, the seaside resort has been nicknamed the "Garden of the English Channel" (French: Jardin de la Manche), the "Pearl of the Opal Coast" (French: Perle de la Côte d'Opale), the "Sports Paradise" (French: Paradis des sports) or the "Four Seasons Resort" (French: Station des quatre saisons).

The city bears the scars of wounds inflicted during World War II by the construction of the Atlantic Wall, the planting of mines prior to the German withdrawal and intensive Allied bombings. Nevertheless, part of the architectural heritage of Le Touquet was left intact. A number of unique villas have been preserved that evoke the seaside architecture of the Roaring Twenties and the 1930s. Although nowadays dominated by buildings from the 1950s to the 1980s, Le Touquet also possesses an important architectural heritage of Anglo-Norman style as well as twenty-one buildings protected as historical monuments, which make it the most awarded French seaside resort.

Geography[edit]

Dunes to the north of Le Touquet
Dunes to the south of the town

Le Touquet is located on the left bank of the mouth of the Canche river on the coast of Pas-de-Calais, 23 km south of Boulogne-sur-Mer. It is in a coastal region that is frequently referred to as the 'Côte d'Opale' (the Opal Coast), a name that evokes the iridescent reflections of the setting sun on the sea.

The town looks out onto the English Channel. Its beach starts at the mouth of the Canche river in the north and extends more than 12 kilometers towards Berck in the south. It is a west-facing beach, lined with dunes and with very fine sand.

The municipal territory consists of a series of small sandy plains, including some wetlands, which are surrounded by sand dunes, some of which reach a height of 36 meters. A Natura 2000 site has been designated that covers the dunes, marshes and forests of the commune.[6] Under this programme, Member States undertake to protect the habitats and species in the designated zones.

Origins of the town[edit]

The town of Le Touquet was given its full name by Hippolyte de Villemessant (1812–1879), founder and owner of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. At the time it was an area of wild sand dunes and forest – part of a hunting estate. Its name came from a Picard word meaning "corner", and was originally applied to the area of coast, where the estuary of the Canche river forms a sharp angle when it meets the English Channel.[7]

It became known as "Paris by the sea", and strict building regulations encouraged architects to create imaginative and innovative developments.

In 1894 John Robinson Whitley and Allen Stoneham bought a stretch of coastal land, through their company Le Touquet Syndicate Ltd, and developed the town into a golf and gambling resort.[7]

Resort and the wealthy British[edit]

The Royal Picard Hotel, a luxurious hotel that was damaged during World War II and subsequently demolished

From the outset, Le Touquet proved to be an attractive resort destination for affluent British travelers. In 1909, H. G. Wells and Amber Reeves fled to Le Touquet in an abortive elopement.[citation needed] The two returned to Britain after a number of weeks and Reeves later gave birth to Wells's daughter, Anna-Jane Blanco White, after the relationship ended.

In the 1920s, Noël Coward and the "smart set" from England spent weekends there, and commissioned more outstanding villa designs echoing traditional and ultra-modern domestic styles. The architecture was both eclectic and playful, integrating numerous influences (e.g. anglo-normand, picard and expressionist).[8]:46 Today the town tourism office offers guided tours to see outstanding examples of 19th- and 20th-century domestic architecture, which are now preserved and protected.

Sayaji Rao III Gaekwar of Baroda also owned a house here.

P. G. Wodehouse lived in Le Touquet from 1934 to 1940 until he was interned by the German army.[9]

World War I[edit]

French war graves from World War I in the municipal cemetery
British and Commonwealth war graves from World War I in the municipal cemetery

Le Touquet sheltered thousands of refugees from other parts of northern France and from Belgium during World War I. The municipal services of Ypres and of Dixmude took up residence there during the hostilities.[10] In total, Le Touquet received 6,000 Belgian citizens during the war.[11]

The neighboring commune of Étaples was the site of a military base that functioned as an important staging area and training ground for British troops being moved into combat zones. It housed some 60,000 soldiers at any given time, making it the largest military camp in Europe during the conflict. About 2 million soldiers passed through it during the war. It was notorious for its extreme lack of comfort, unsanitary conditions and its poorly designed military training programme.[12] In 1917, the base was the scene of an uprising — the Étaples mutiny. While the British officers were comfortably billeted in Le Touquet, the city was out of bounds for the common soldier. The uprising occurred when a New Zealand soldier was arrested when trying to return from Le Touquet to Étaples after sneaking across the Canches river at low tide. A crowd gathered to support the arrested soldier, and during tensions with the military police, another soldier was shot and killed, leading to further conflict. The uprising was ultimately suppressed and military sanctions included an execution and prison sentences.[13]

The Casino, completed in 1913, was converted into a military hospital for wounded British troops — the Duchess of Westminster's (No. 1 British Red Cross Society) Hospital. The No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital had the distinction of being the first Canadian Unit to land on French soil during the conflict. No. 2 Stationary opened at the Hotel du Golf at Le Touquet on November 27, 1914. Other hotels were also converted into military hospitals.[12]

All of the 142 British Commonwealth war graves in Le Touquet's Communal Cemetery are from the hospitals. The graves occupy a plot by the cemetery entrance. The cemetery also contains French and Italian war graves. In the same cemetery a wooden obelisk was erected by the commune's lifeboatmen in honour of the British war dead.[7]

World War II[edit]

German bunker south of Le Touquet

From end-May1940 to 1944, more than 40,000 German soldiers occupied the town.

In 1941, the Organisation Todt, the German army’s engineering corp, set up operations in Le Touquet, with the primary objective of building the Atlantic Wall in the region. Several bunkers are still clearly visible in the adjacent area.

In 1943, the Organisation Todt also demolished the prestigious Atlantic Hotel. Valuable construction materials from the demolition were sent to Germany in train cars marked as bearing “gifts from the French for their German friends.” Other hotels and homes were requisitioned to house German officers and troops.[10]

The Atlantic Hotel, which was dismantled by the Germans. Some of its architectural elements were shipped to Germany.

The Atlantic Wall was completed in 1943 and the first Allied bombs hit Le Touquet on October 2, 1943. The children of Le Touquet were evacuated from the city in February 1944; they took refuge in the safer region of Mayenne. In the first days of June 1944, two sets of diversionary bombings (whose purpose was to hide the true target of the D-Day landing) were unleashed on Le Touquet by the Allied forces, causing immense damage and many deaths.[8][14]

Le Touquet was liberated by Canadian armed forces on September 4, 1944.[15] A total of 106,745 mines were identified in and around Le Touquet, making it the most mined city in France.[8] The position of the mines was as follows: 38,620 mines were found in the city itself; 54,125 in the dunes, race track and aérodrome; 13,800 under houses; and 200 in the municipal swimming pool.[16] German prisoners of war participated in the process of identifying and removing the mines, as did French personnel. At Le Touquet, 78 démineurs died during this operation.[8]:108-126

Post-WW II reconstruction[edit]

High rise post-War buildings on the seafront
Example of pre-WW II architecture on the seafront

The Second World War left its mark on the urban landscape of Le Touquet — it destroyed much of the city, particularly on the seafront. Although badly damaged, the pre-War villas were, for the most part, rebuilt. But in response to market pressures, these relatively small structures were replaced by high-rise buildings offering numerous apartments with sea views. In 1961, the first large scale residence, consisting of nine stories and 20 apartments, was built. Numerous other high-rise constructions followed.[17]

This style of development has been criticised. For example, in 1999, the report of the classification commission for the natural site of the Pointe du Touquet stated: "The disappointing aspect of the latest developments on the seafront, both in their design and in their execution, illustrates what should be avoided from now on."[18] The resort has since undertaken to preserve the quality of its built environment by regulating the construction of high buildings, providing norms for the renovation of existing buildings of architectural interest and promoting high quality modern architecture.[19]

Population[edit]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1968 4,403—    
1975 5,370+2.88%
1982 5,204−0.45%
1990 5,596+0.91%
1999 5,299−0.60%
2007 5,355+0.13%
2012 4,588−3.04%
2017 4,223−1.64%
Source: INSEE[20]

Sport[edit]

Motorsport[edit]

Every year in February, an off-road motorcycle and quad beach race called Enduropale [fr] (formerly Enduro du Touquet) is held along the beach and through the dunes, with some 1,000 motorbikes, Quad bikes and 250,000 spectators.[21]

Cycling[edit]

Le Touquet’s municipal tennis club

Le Touquet has been host to four stages of the Tour de France. The resort first hosted a stage during the 1971 Tour de France, as the finish for Stage 6b, from Amiens, on 2 July. Following this, the resort hosted Stage 3 of the 1976 Tour de France, on 27 June. This was a 37 kilometres (23 mi) individual time trial which both started and finished at the resort. The following day, Le Touquet was the departure point for the fourth stage, to Bornem in Belgium. The 2014 Tour de France began Stage 4 at Le Touquet on 8 July, with the stage taking a 163.5 kilometres (101.6 mi) route to Lille Métropole.[22]

Tennis[edit]

The Le Touquet Tennis Club is the home of international tournaments. It has 33 courts (25 clay courts and 8 indoor courts), 2 club-houses, 1 central court with 900 places, 2 paddle-tennis courts and 4 mini tennis courts.

Gallery[edit]

Climate[edit]

Le Touquet has an oceanic climate.

Climate data for Le Touquet (Le Touquet – Côte d'Opale Airport), 1991−2020 normals (temperatures), 1981-2010 normals (precipitation), 1991-2010 (sunshine), extremes 1951−present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.7
(60.3)
19.3
(66.7)
23.2
(73.8)
25.5
(77.9)
31.4
(88.5)
34.6
(94.3)
39.3
(102.7)
36.4
(97.5)
31.2
(88.2)
27.1
(80.8)
19.8
(67.6)
16.4
(61.5)
39.3
(102.7)
Average high °C (°F) 7.4
(45.3)
8.0
(46.4)
10.6
(51.1)
13.8
(56.8)
17.0
(62.6)
19.4
(66.9)
21.3
(70.3)
21.6
(70.9)
19.3
(66.7)
15.6
(60.1)
11.0
(51.8)
8.1
(46.6)
14.4
(57.9)
Daily mean °C (°F) 5.1
(41.2)
5.4
(41.7)
7.5
(45.5)
9.9
(49.8)
13.2
(55.8)
15.8
(60.4)
17.8
(64.0)
18.0
(64.4)
15.7
(60.3)
12.5
(54.5)
8.4
(47.1)
5.8
(42.4)
11.2
(52.2)
Average low °C (°F) 2.9
(37.2)
2.8
(37.0)
4.3
(39.7)
6.0
(42.8)
9.3
(48.7)
12.2
(54.0)
14.3
(57.7)
14.4
(57.9)
12.1
(53.8)
9.5
(49.1)
5.9
(42.6)
3.5
(38.3)
8.1
(46.6)
Record low °C (°F) −19.1
(−2.4)
−18.2
(−0.8)
−8.9
(16.0)
−4.5
(23.9)
−2.2
(28.0)
−0.4
(31.3)
4.0
(39.2)
3.9
(39.0)
1.8
(35.2)
−3.8
(25.2)
−8.6
(16.5)
−11.6
(11.1)
−19.1
(−2.4)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 73.9
(2.91)
55.5
(2.19)
60.7
(2.39)
55.2
(2.17)
63.2
(2.49)
57.5
(2.26)
60.0
(2.36)
63.7
(2.51)
78.2
(3.08)
105.7
(4.16)
104.5
(4.11)
93.8
(3.69)
871.9
(34.33)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 13.0 9.9 11.2 9.7 10.1 9.0 8.3 9.2 10.8 13.4 13.8 13.3 131.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 64.2 77.6 127.1 179 200.2 213.9 220.9 201.1 158 113.3 62.1 51.7 1,669.6
Average ultraviolet index 1 1 3 4 6 6 6 6 4 2 1 1 3
Source 1: Météo France[23] (extremes, precipitation, sunshine)
Source 2: Infoclimat.fr[24] (temperatures 1991-2020), Weather Atlas[25] (UV index)

Miscellaneous[edit]

Inland from the beach, hotels, a casino and a horse racing course, a wide range of sports, particularly golf are offered. The Casino de la forêt provided the inspiration for the casino of Royale-les-Eaux in Casino Royale.

Notable people[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

Le Touquet participates in international town twinning; its current partners are:

Transportation[edit]

Le Touquet is served by Le Touquet - Côte d'Opale Airport. Le Touquet airport is a popular destination for British private pilots due to its geographical proximity to the UK, often becoming the first overseas flight destination.

Trains operated by SNCF operate to Étaples-Le Touquet in the adjacent town of Étaples. These operate from Paris Gare du Nord to Boulogne-Ville; from Boulogne-Ville to Arras (TER Hauts-de-France); from Lille Flandres to Calais-Ville (TER Hauts-de-France); and from Étaples-Le Touquet to Lille Europe (TERGV).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Répertoire national des élus: les maires". data.gouv.fr, Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises (in French). 2 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Populations légales 2019". The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. 29 December 2021.
  3. ^ INSEE commune file
  4. ^ Populations légales 2019: 62 Pas-de-Calais, INSEE
  5. ^ Tuesday, July 8th - Stage 4 - Le Touquet-Paris-Plage / Lille Métropole Archived 2014-07-05 at the Wayback Machine www.letour.fr, July 2014
  6. ^ "INPN - Inventaire national du patrimoine naturel (INPN)". Inventaire National du Patrimoine Naturel. Retrieved 2022-06-08.
  7. ^ a b c [1] CWGC Cemetery Report.
  8. ^ a b c d Saudemont, Patrick (2011). Les 100 ans du Touquet-Paris-Plage (in French). Michel Lafon. p. 32.
  9. ^ [2] "In Defense of P. G. Wodehouse"
  10. ^ a b Holl, Philippe; Flahaut, Patrick (2007). La seconde guerre mondiale au Touquet (in French). Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire: Éditions Alan Sutton. ISBN 978-2-84910-692-1.
  11. ^ "Histoires 14-18 : Le Touquet, refuge des belges". France 3 Hauts-de-France (in French). Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  12. ^ a b Saudemont, Patrick (2011). Les 100 ans du Touquet-Paris Plage: 1912-2012 (in French). Neuilly-sur-Seine: Éditiions Michel Lafon. p. 24. ISBN 978-2-7499-1468-8.
  13. ^ "Mutiny At Etaples Base in 1917 | Military History Forum". www.militarian.com. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  14. ^ Paradis, Thierry (2008). Le Touquet occupé. Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. Imprimerie Barnéoud. ISBN 978-2-9530502-0-2.
  15. ^ "D'une guerre à l'autre". Office du tourisme du Touquet-Paris-Plage en Côte d’Opale (in French). Retrieved 2021-12-06.
  16. ^ Paradis, Thierry (2008). Le Touquet-Paris-Plage occupé, 1940-1944. Bonchamp-les-Laval: Impriné Barnéoud. ISBN 978-2-9530502-0-2.
  17. ^ Société académique du Touquet-Paris-Plage, contribution by Frédéric Quételard (2011). 1912-2012: Un siècle d'histoire (in French). Éditions Henri. p. 112. ISBN 978-2-917698-93-8.
  18. ^ Municipal publication (December 1999). "Le Touquet Magazine, later renamed Le Touquet Paris-Plage Info" (PDF).
  19. ^ "Le maire veut voir émerger « une architecture audacieuse »". letouquet.maville.com (in French). Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  20. ^ Population en historique depuis 1968, INSEE
  21. ^ "Enduro du Touquet". letouquet-holidays.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  22. ^ "Stage 4: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage to Lille Métropole". Tour de France. Amaury Sport Organisation. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2014.
  23. ^ "FICHE CLIMATOLOGIQUE - Normales 1981-2010 et records - Le Touquet (62)" (PDF). Météo France. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  24. ^ "Normales et records pour la période 1991-2020 à Le-Touquet-Paris-Plage". Infoclimat.fr. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  25. ^ "Monthly weather forecast and climate: Le Touquet, France". Weather Atlas. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  26. ^ "Association Christian Ferras". Associationferras.com. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  27. ^ von Bodenhausen, Baroness Reihild, PG Wodehouse: The Unknown Years, Stamford Lake.
  28. ^ Macron Country - Brittany: Why this region of progressive, lapsed Catholics was a Macron stronghold., Jean-Marie Pottier (Slate.fr), Slate.Com, 2017-05-09

External links[edit]