Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 23/12/19
What a year!
Back in January, I wrote a blog post on this website explaining why 2019 was going to be a big year for Dieppe. It turns out that it was even bigger than I expected. Thanks to gorgeous weather throughout spring and summer, very high numbers of visitors headed to our sunny shores, and the local tourist office has enjoyed a bumper year. The best surprise arrived in June, when Dieppe’s famous Saturday-morning market was voted second best in the whole country! That really helped to promote this unique seaside town as a quality destination, where you can savour local food & drink at its best. Rick Stein would certainly agree, as you can see in the first episode of his new ‘Secret France’ series, which aired on BBC2 early November. He even crowned our port “home of the world’s best whelks”!
Another good surprise came last month, when the GR21, which crosses Dieppe and its surroundings, was voted France’s favourite hiking trail. Anyone who has walked along this scenic route can confirm that the natural beauty of the land and seascapes the trail offers are simply breath-taking. Being a real active and sporty town, Dieppe was then awarded the “Terre de Jeux 2024” label, recognising the town’s efforts to increase the amount of sport people play and to get them involved in the big Olympic and Paralympic journey. Dieppe will now have access to an exclusive visual identity, as well as marketing tools to spread news about Paris 2024 and make preparations for key moments.
That’s not all. Here in Dieppe, good news comes in fours, and just last week it was confirmed that Dieppe had gained the prestigious “Station de Tourisme” label, rewarding the town for the quality of its beaches, facilities, activities and restaurants. Tourism is on the rise in Dieppe, and this label will help the town draw even more visitors, thus contributing to the local economy. Remember, Dieppe is right on your doorstep, and you don’t have to travel further south to experience the best of France.
I really came to realise that the town was in good shape while reading through the comments section on The Argus’ website a couple of weeks ago. Under an article on the closure of several independent stores in Brighton city centre, a reader commented that the city by the sea was going downhill and advised people to visit Dieppe, where one could find an amazing market, delicious restaurants and small independent shops galore. I was born in Brighton and have always looked to the city, but today I must admit the guy is right. Thirty new stores have opened in the town centre over the past year, which is amazing for a municipality of 30,000 souls. Dieppe has become a small mecca for local produce, quality events, good restaurants and indy shops, and the best is yet to come. Bring on 2020!
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 03/12/19
The fun never stops!
What a weekend! On 16 and 17 November, tens of thousands of hungry visitors descended on Dieppe to celebrate the 50thanniversary of our famous herring and scallop fair. The event promised to be epic and it certainly was. The quaysides were packed from dusk to dawn and a true festive spirit was in the air. Despite the chilly weather, nothing could spoil the fantastic atmosphere. The forecasters had predicted rain. It didn’t rain a drop. The news readers talked about social protests. There were none. Everywhere you looked, people had smiles on their faces and sparkles in their eyes. Dieppe definitely was the place to be and the town put on a show to remember.
At nightfall, a delightful family-friendly sound and light parade illuminated and animated the streets, followed by one of the most impressive firework displays Dieppe had ever seen! Locals and visitors alike were left dazzled by the beauty of it all. This was truly Dieppe at is best: a welcoming, festive, authentic, friendly and yummy seaside town, whose heart beats year-round. I was surprised, and pleased, to hear so many foreign accents and speak to lots of Parisians who were visiting Dieppe for the very first time. Our town is the closest beach to the capital, yet many of its inhabitants have yet to discover France’s oldest seaside resort.
On the same weekend, Dieppe’s new multiplex cinema opened its doors in the heart of town, right opposite the busy train station. I wrote about this exciting new development last month, but wasn’t quite expecting it to be as good as it is. First of all, the place is huge, boasting eight screens in comfy, large rooms. Without doubt, it is also one of France’s most beautiful new movie theatres, combining the best of the old and the modern. The immense brick building in which the cinema is housed has been beautifully restored and is an attraction in itself. Under the same roof, you will also find one of France’s largest sport bars, a virtual reality park and a French Coffee Shop (our answer to Starbucks).
Now make way for the festive season! The lights are sparking across town, a huge Christmas tree has been installed right in front of the Café des Tribunaux, one of Dieppe’s most iconic landmarks, and quirky trees made of colourful scallop shells and herring figures are proudly standing at the top of the Quai Henri IV, beneath the beautifully-illuminated arcades. They certainly stand out and, just like Dieppe, have character! Enjoy the last days of the year!
© Photo : Pascal Diologent
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 28/10/19
Ready for the big screen!
France is a fabulous country, but it has its downsides. For years, soft urban planning rules on the outskirts of towns led to the development of horrendous shopping areas which sucked the life out of the high streets. Many mid-sized towns are suffering and are now trying to repair the damage caused by imposing new regulations. ‘Too little, too late’, some say… Here in Dieppe however, we are fortunate enough to still have a bustling town centre packed with independent shops, cafés, bars and restaurants. Over twenty new stores have opened since the beginning of the year and more are still to follow. Dieppe has an empty shop rate of only 7%, which is quite impressive considering the national average of over 11%.
It’s not only shops that have been moving to the suburbs though. Over the past years, many modern multiplex cinemas surrounded by giant car parks have flourished across the country, while in the meantime several centrally located independent movie theatres have shut their doors. Things are starting to change again though, and Dieppe is leading the way. On 16 November, one of the first modern multiplex cinemas housed in a historic building will open in the heart of our lively seaside town. Located right next to the train station, this immense brick building, which was once a tobacco factory, has been converted into an ultra-modern 8 screen cinema, complete with a virtual reality park, a huge sports bar and a French Coffee Shop.
This highly anticipated new complex will undoubtedly be met with huge success when it opens its doors in a couple of weeks’ time. Dieppe’s current cinema was way too small for an urban area of over 80,000 inhabitants, and locals are especially excited to see how the building has been refurbished from top to toe. Standing adjacent to the train station, just a stone’s throw away from the port, the hospital and the big cultural centre, the ‘halle à tabac’ is a well-known edifice which sat empty for decades. It will now welcome tens of thousands of spectators every year, along with virtual reality enthusiasts, coffee lovers and sport fanatics. Many people living near Rouen, Normandy’s capital, have already said that they will now start travelling up to Dieppe to catch a movie, adding extra footfall to our town centre.
Several other major projects are lined up for the coming years around Dieppe’s train station, including one of Europe’s most innovative and beautiful sea centres. Watch this space…
© Photo : Pascal Diologent
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 04/09/19
The endless summer
It’s been a sizzling summer here in Dieppe! It all started off early, when the superb Hermione frigate docked in our port mid-May, followed by several big nautical events such as the National coastal and offshore rowing championships, a national jet ski competition and of course the final stage of the world-famous Solitaire du Figaro. July was a scorcher, with two of the highest temperatures on record measured and jam-packed weekends on the beach. Normandy was even the sunniest place in the whole of France during the first two weeks of July, and visitors flocked form far and wide to enjoy our brilliant seaside atmosphere. The two night markets were met with huge success, the sports village set up on the seafront lawns was full throughout the week and over 30,000 people gathered on the same lawns on 10 August for the French Fab Tour. Dieppe truly is the place to be, and the excitement is set to continue until the end of the year!
Being France’s oldest seaside resort and the closest beach to Paris, Dieppe’s heart sure beats a little stronger during the summer months but the town certainly doesn’t shut up shop as soon as the kids head back to school! In order to make the summer magic last a little longer, a big wheel will be installed on the Quai Henri IV, right next to the famous Tout Va Bien brasserie, from 20 September. The perfect family ride to make the most of the Indian summer and get a bird's-eye view of the town centre and the port. On 14 and 15 September, Dieppe will also welcome over 170 teams for the Oxfam Trailwalker event, a challenge where teams of four people walk 100 km within 30 hours and fundraise for Oxfam to support its actions. High on the clifftop, overlooking the historic streets and the beach, Dieppe Castle will then host for the very first time a big medieval festival called Mers et Mondes Fantastiques on 28 and 29 September.
Things won’t cool down in October either! Now in its 17th year, the highly-anticipated Dieppe BD festival will take place in the castle on 5 and 6 October, bringing together hundreds of graphic novel aficionados. One week later, Normandy EcoSpace, located on the outskirts of town, will host the Startup Weekend in partnership with Google. In just 54 hours, local entrepreneurs can experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup and learn how to create a real company with some of best mentors, investors, cofounders, and sponsors who are ready to help them get started. What if Dieppe became the next Silicon Beach?
Food lovers can rejoice too, as yet another restaurant is opening this month in the town centre. At the heart of the Ile du Pollet, right bang in between the two bridges, Chez Carlotta is set to become a mecca for anyone with a taste for Italian food. If you enjoy good beers, you can also head to La Porte Ouverte, at the bottom end of the Quai Henri IV, which has just opened its doors and boasts an impressive choice of bottled or tap beers.
Rides, major events, tech, food and drink… Dieppe has it all!
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 06/08/19
The centre of it all
It’s easy to forget that Dieppe is in such a strategic geographic location. Halfway between London and Paris, two of the world’s most famous and bustling cities, lies a seaside town which has yet to unleash all of its potential. If you’re travelling by car or by bike, using the Newhaven to Dieppe ferry route is still the shortest way to link the two capital cities. Although many car drivers now choose to take the Eurotunnel service to cut the travel time, a growing number are rediscovering the pleasures of romance at sea and the comfort of a mini-cruise. However, over the past few months, it is especially the number of cyclists using the service which has increased, and for a good reason.
Three weeks ago, the final section of the famous Avenue Verte cycle route was inaugurated. Whereas cyclists previously had to ride a few miles to reach the start of the greenway in Arques-la-Bataille, they can now start pedalling on the route in the heart of Dieppe, just off the Avenue Vauban, south of the train station. This inauguration was met with acclaim from cyclists, who had been waiting for several years for the scheme to be completed. More and more bike lovers are choosing to travel via Dieppe to experience this unique greenway, which can take you all the way from Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower. With its numerous hotels, gites, restaurants, pubs and cafés, Dieppe isn’t only the start (or the end) of the French section of the route, it is also one of the favoured places for cyclists to stop off before they continue on their journey.
Cyclists aren’t the only ones to have a smile on their right now. Last month, the timetable for the new direct train service between Paris and Dieppe was unveiled. Starting 2020, it will enable visitors and dieppoisreturning home to catch a train from Saint-Lazare at 9.12am on Saturdays which will arrive in Dieppe two hours later, just in time for tourists to stroll our famous Saturday-morning market. No change of trains in required in Rouen anymore. On Sunday evenings, the service will leave at 6.25pm and will take a little more than two hours to reach the heart of the French capital. This direct train route between Paris and its closest beach had been requested by users, local politicians and associations for a long time and it’s a great satisfaction to finally see it begin.
If you’re travelling on the ferry this August or next month, don’t miss the photo exhibition which is on display on both the Seven Sisters and the Côte d’Albâtre until end September. It features pictures of Dieppe’s cafés and portraits of the men and women who bring the streets of the town centre to life every Saturday morning when the market takes place. Recently crowned second best market in the whole of France, it wouldn’t exist without the local producers and vendors who give it its identity, vibe and authenticity.
© Photo : Erwan Lesné
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 02/07/19
Winning the hearts!
We did it! Well, almost that is. On Friday 14th June, Dieppe’s famous Saturday morning market was voted 2nd best in the whole country, the big winner being Montbrison in the Loire region. After two months of tough competition, most Dieppois were of course disappointed not to win the title, but everyone still had a smile of their face when the results were announced. Finishing second is still a fantastic achievement, especially when you know that over 260 towns and villages were competing at the start.
Here in Dieppe, we all know that our market is undoubtably one of France’s best, we just wanted to prove it to the rest of the country. Spreading over two kilometres from the top of the Quai Henri IV, up the Grande Rue and into several side streets, it is first of all Normandy’s largest market. Every Saturday from 8am, the town centre is transformed into an open-air street theatre which comes alive with an array of colours, scents and flavours. The market is so rich and plentiful that one really can't decide where to look or what to buy first, and you could actually spend all morning strolling through the busy streets.
Over the past year, these streets have become even busier. In 2018, Dieppe was already proudly representing Normandy in the national competition to elect France's most beautiful market (Votre Plus Beau Marché). Last year, we finished at the 8th place, which was already a good result. Extra efforts were put in this year, and the town centre was absolutely jam-packed when a television crew from TF1 (Europe’s most-watched TV channel) came to Dieppe to showcase the authenticity and the diversity of our market. Over six million viewers were able to see just how much this weekly rendez-vous matters to Dieppe.
Today more than ever before, people come from far and wide to enjoy the warm, relaxed, friendly and homey atmosphere that makes Dieppe the place it is. Over the past few weeks, I spoke to visitors from Paris, Lille and even Belgium who had travelled to our beautiful town just to see and experience the Saturday-morning market. This is of course hugely beneficial to our local economy, and helps Dieppe’s town centre stay alive, especially at a time where many are talking about ‘the death of the high-street’. People come for the market and stay for the wonderful restaurants, gorgeous scenery, livery streets and historical treasures.
Dieppe’s top-rated market is just one element of the renaissance that Dieppe is currently experiencing. As I already pointed out, visitor numbers are on the rise, the local music scene is booming, new trendy shops, cafés and restaurants are opening, the Alpine car factory is in full swing and several big projects are being implemented, such as the opening of a new ultra-modern multiplex cinema in October and a big sea life centre planned for 2022. Come see for yourselves, you won’t regret it!
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 04/06/19
A summer to remember!
There is a real buzz about Dieppe at the moment. New shop and restaurant openings, a bustling market which is set to be elected as one of France’s most beautiful markets in a few days time, stronger cultural and commercial exchanges with the UK, visitor numbers on the rise and events galore. It just seems that the planets are aligned in order for this town to thrive! It’s in this context that the high season will soon kick in, making for a summer to remember. The sun is shining, the sea is sparkling, and Dieppe has its arms wide open to visitors, who can enjoy a wealth of events and activities these coming months.
Things already started to warm up last month, when the magnificent Hermione frigate docked in Dieppe and was welcomed by thousands on the quaysides. For the very first time, the National coastal and offshore rowing championships then took place on 24-25 May, which proved to be a great success. June is now upon us, and Dieppe’s heart is ready to start beating even faster! On Sunday 9 June, the Pollet neighbourhood will be the place to be, as Dieppe’s famous Colbert bridge will be celebrating its 130th anniversary! The town’s old fishing quarter will come alive like never before from 2pm with concerts, tastings and activities, finishing with a unique sound & light show at nightfall. Singers, jugglers, fire breathers and dancers will tell the story of two lovers separated by the river and who reunite thanks to the bridge!
On 22-23 June, thrill-seekers will enjoy an action-packed weekend when water craft drivers meet on the seafront for a national jet ski championship. The competition will feature some outstanding professional racers and will give spectators a chance to see the thrills and spills of this exciting sport up close.
From 25 to 30 June, Dieppe will then welcome the final stage of the Solitaire du Figaro, one of the world’s most famous solo sailing races. A village will be set up on the Quai Henri IV, with a variety of activities for all ages.
Thousands of people strolling up and down the quayside, packed bars and restaurants, bands playing in the street and dozens of merchants selling local produce, arts and crafts: this is what you’ll experience if you’re lucky enough to be in Dieppe on 6 July and 3 August, when the popular night markets will be taking place from 5pm along the Quai Henri IV.
Dieppe is truly a family-friendly town! Kids will love the heated open-air swimming pool on the seafront, the adjacent skatepark and mini golf, the newly refurbished pirate ship in the Square Pinsdez, the aquariums at the Cité de la Mer and of course the beautiful carousel on the Quai Henri IV. The whole family can aslo try renting a Rosalie opposite the Aguado Hotel. Rosalies are four-wheeled pedal cars and are very popular in French seaside resorts. They are appreciated by families who can tour the town centre and the beach while enjoying a little exercise. From 9 to 25 August, don’t miss the huge funfair held on Europe’s largest seafront lawns, with over 120 rides for big and small.
Many other festivities will be taking place throughout summer, such as the big firework display on 13 July or concerts and street shows in the town centre on every Saturday in July and August. You’ll be spoilt for choice!
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 04/05/19
The place to be
Some of you may remember John Boyett. The gentle Sussex jazzman was a great friend of my late father’s, and that is how I came to know him well. He loved Dieppe deeply and used to spend most of his time here in his late years. I can recall often bumping into him in the Grande Rue, Dieppe’s main shopping street, his hands packed with groceries and shopping bags. Twelve years’ ago, we had a chat at the ferry terminal, and I remember him saying with his deep voice: “one day, Dieppe will become as popular as Brighton”. I laughed at the time, but deep down inside I knew he was right.
I have never stopped believing in Dieppe’s potential. After all, it was here that the Duchesse de Berry started the fad for sea bathing, which led the town to become France’s first seaside resort. Although most Parisians now tend to head to the Flowered Coast for the weekend or a short break, Dieppe remains the closest beach to the capital. The town boasts four ports, Europe’s largest seaside lawns, over 100 restaurants, 3 museums, a stunning golf course on the clifftops, a racecourse, one of France’s most beautiful markets, tens of independent shops, an active cultural scene and a rich industrial network. Dieppe’s strengths are many, and many are finally turning their heads towards this ever-surprising town.
I’ve been waiting to say this for years now, but I strongly believe that Dieppe’s moment has finally come. Since the beginning of the year, not a week has gone by without some positive news for the town. The Alpine factory has been producing the most-sold luxury sports car in France, the Canadian Film Festival enjoyed its most successful edition to date, the bustling Saturday morning market has been elected as one of the country’s best, and is now proudly representing Normandy in the national competition to elect France's most beautiful market, the famous Pont Colbert bridge is going to be preserved as a French National Monument and a huge sound & light show is even going to take place on 9 June to celebrate the structure’s 130th birthday.
All eyes are now on the town centre, where a lot of activity is underway. At a time where the death of the high street is mentioned quite a lot on both sides of the Channel, it's certainly not the case here in Dieppe. In January, an authentic and trendy wine bar opened up, followed by a hip concept-store, an organic hairdressers, a small Korean restaurant, a Thai restaurant and very soon Normandy’s first poke bowl store! It seems like Brighton has decided to relocate to Dieppe!
Dieppe has always remained true to its maritime identity, and this is now truer than ever before. On 11 and 12 May, the port will welcome the Hermione, one of the world’s finest tall ships, before hosting the national coastal and offshore rowing championships for the very first time on 24 – 25 May. End June, we will then welcome the final stage of the Solitaire du Figaro, one of the world’s most famous solo sailing races. From 22 to 26 August, Dieppe will be the beautiful Belem’s port of call, and, last but not least, will warm up in the Autumn for the 50th anniversary of the huge herring and scallop fair!
So, John Boyett definitely was right twelve years ago. With so much going on here, Dieppe really has become the place to be!
© Photo archive Solitaire du Figaro 2013 : Erwan Lesné
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 26/03/19
Let’s stay friends!
Every cloud has a silver lining. Brexit may well have been postponed, the forecast is still looking gloomy as uncertainty prevails. However, people tend to come together and reach out to one another when times are tough, and this is exactly what is happening at the moment on either side of the Channel. For years, Dieppe and Brighton have been looking at each other with friendly eyes, but cooperation hasn't exactly been a paragon of achievement. Brightonians love Dieppe and Dieppois love Brighton, but the truth is that most inhabitants of both cities have never crossed the Channel to pay their neighbours a visit. Although Brighton & Hove is one of the UK’s most successful cities and that Dieppe is the closest beach to Paris, cultural and business exchanges haven’t been rife. Until now that is.
Indeed, the times they are-a changin’, and with Brexit on the horizon, both the French and the British now believe that time has come to show their affection to their neighbours and to start working on projects together. Take Graham Precey for instance. When he discovered that it was often cheaper to hop on the ferry to Dieppe than to catch the train from Newhaven to London, he saw the potential straight away. He now spends as much time in Dieppe as he does in Sussex, and with his social enterprise Newhaven Regeneration Group (NRG), is working on building strong cross-Channel links. After inviting Newhaven artists to showcase their works in Dieppe last September and screening the French premiere of web series Seaside Town here back in December, he is now taking things to another level by inviting businesses in Sussex and Normandy to meet in international waters to discuss future business ties and investment opportunities.
Jointly hosted by NRG and Normandy Ecospace, based just outside Dieppe, the very first start-up cruise is taking place on Thursday 4 April on board the Transmanche ferry and will bring together a total of sixty entrepreneurs from both sides of the Channel to boost the trade links between the two regions. As Valery Jimonet, CEO of Normandy Ecospace rightly points out, “we have a lot in common and are looking forward to seeing a thriving cross-Channel partnership as a result of our voyage of discovery”.
Just before this unique initiative takes place, Dieppe will host the 6th edition of its Canadian Film Festival, which is unique in France, from 28 to 31 March. During this major event, Festival Director Nicolas Bellenchombre will unveil his very first modern circus and cabaret show called Kanada. For the very first time, Brighton Fringe CEO Julian Caddy will travel to Dieppe to watch the show live and meet local cultural actors. Brightonians will then have the opportunity to discover Kanada at the Fringe on 14 May.
Right after the festival, a new exhibition will be unveiled at the lovely Entrepôt café, under the Arcades. Named Côte à Côte (From Coast to Coast), it will showcase works by talented young photographer Brice Menou. Born to a British mother, he lives in Dieppe and has spent most of his free time over the past few years taking pictures of his hometown and the English coast. His first exhibition is a love letter to the friendship between his two countries, our two countries, and will be on display from 2 to 25 April.
© Photo : Erwan Lesné
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 25/01/19
10 reasons why Dieppe will shine in 2019
1) 2019 is the year to visit Normandy, and therefore Dieppe! Indeed, this beautiful part of France has been listed by Lonely Planet, CNN, Frommer’s and many others as one of the world’s top regions to visit this year. If you’re travelling from the UK, Dieppe can be the first stop on your trip. The town is the country’s oldest seaside resort and boasts over 100 restaurants, 400 shops, 4 ports, 3 museums, not forgetting Europe’s largest seafront lawns and one of France’s most beautiful markets. You’re in for a treat!
2) Seafood at its best! A few months ago, celebrity Chef Rick Stein visited Dieppe for his new TV-series ‘Rick Stein’s Secret France’ and fell in love with the town’s produce. The show will air next September in the UK, but until then you too can come and discover Dieppe’s gloriously fresh fish and seafood. Our famous coquilles Saint-Jacques (scallops) have just been awarded a Label Rouge (Red Label), which is a sign of quality assurance in France. Dieppe is one of the best places to savour them on the whole continent, so hop on the ferry and come get your taste buds satisfied.
3) Movies and more! September will also be marked by the opening of Dieppe’s new ultra-modern multiplex cinema, which will be unique in France. Housed in a historic brick building, just a few steps away from the train station, it will boast eight screens equipped with 4D technology, a virtual reality centre, a French Coffee Shop and an impressive sports bar complete with a boxing ring!
4) A call from the sea. In Dieppe, the sea is everywhere and everything links to the sea. It will therefore come as no surprise to hear that the national coastal and offshore rowing championships will be taking place here on 24-25 May. One month before the world-famous Armada festival in Rouen, on 11-12 May, the Hermione, a 32-gun Concorde-class frigate fitted for 12-pounder guns, will dock in Dieppe. At the end of the summer season, competitors are due to celebrate the finish of the Solitaire du Figaro in Dieppe, which will be another big maritime event.
5) Culture galore! From 28 to 31 March, Europe’s one and only Canadian film festival will return to the town’s theatres and streets, with several big names announced such as French movie star Frédéric Diefenthal. June will be marked by the theatre festival ‘Les Enfants de Molière’, organised by a young and enthusiastic bunch of local girls, which will take place in the Casino’s beautiful theatre room. In September, the ‘Bandes Dessinées’ (graphic novel) festival will be held for the very first time in the castle overlooking the town centre!
6) The sound of music. Everyone loves a comeback! Dieppe used to have one of Normandy’s most active rock music scenes. Things died down a few years back, but now the scene is back in force. Not a weekend goes by without four or more concerts taking place in the town’s bustling pubs, cafés and night bars. If you really want to see Dieppe rocking, head to the Au Bout Là-Bas, at the top end of the Quai Henri IV, on a Saturday eve.
7) Time to cross the bridge! Five years ago, I wrote a column on this website informing readers that the new viaduct bridge outside Dieppe would be completed in 2015 and that it would soon only take thirty minutes to reach Rouen from the entrance to Dieppe, and a little less than two hours to arrive in Paris. Unfortunately, things didn’t really go as planned and work is still ongoing on the RN27 highway. However, things are finally looking up and car drivers should be able to cross the bridge at the end of this year!
8) Room with a view. Another big project which will be completed this year is the new 4-star hotel at the Tour aux Crabes, overlooking the marina. When finished, the hotel will have 49 rooms, a gourmet restaurant and a spa. It will incorporate the remains of historic local landmark, the Crab Tower, which formed part of the medieval ramparts of Dieppe.
9) The herring king. Dieppe’s annual herring festival is one of Normandy’s biggest and most popular food & drink festivals. This year will be a very special one, as on 16-17 November, the event will celebrate its 50th anniversary in style! Over 100,000 visitors from far and wide will flock to the quaysides to enjoy the freshest of smoked fish and seafood. Bring it on!
10) Brexit links. Brexit may indeed by a threat for Dieppe, but it can also be an opportunity. When Brexit comes into effect on 29 March, we’ll shout out loud our love for Britain and will remind our British friends that we will continue to welcome them with open arms, despite the circumstances. Dieppe is one of the gateways to the continent, and I’m positive that in the years to come, many Brits will choose to cross the Channel to show their affection to their neighbours.
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 10/12/18
It’s the festive season and despite the ongoing protests over here in France, locals and visitors are still flocking to Dieppe’s town centre for Christmas shopping and activities. Magic is in the air, and as you might already now, in Dieppe we like to do things differently. No cheap-looking chalets selling products made in China in sight here, but several craft fairs and pop-up stores showcasing the best of local talent. At the heart of the Quai Duquesne, L’Effet Mer for instance will be welcoming several talented artists from 11 to 29 December. It’s a fantastic opportunity to purchase unique, handmade arts and crafts made in Dieppe. Right opposite St Jacques Church, another ephemeral boutique called ‘Chez les filles’ has set up shop and is selling jewellery, accessories and other handcrafted items. Just a few steps from there, in the Rue de l’Oranger, the ‘Atelier Konu’ is another fantastic place to head to discover the works of seven local artists. Finally, in the Grande Rue, Dieppe’s main shopping street, you can also visit Miro’s pop-up store to stock up with Christmas gifts with a difference.
The Tout Va Bien, one of the town’s most famous landmarks, looks more magical this Christmas than ever before. Overlooking the marina, it is lit with an array of sparkling lights and decorations, and this year its clients can make the most of the quirky sky tram cabins that have been installed on the pavement in front of restaurant. Perfect little cocoons to enjoy a coffee or a glass mulled wine while the cold hits in! On the other side of the street, kids can make the most of the small funfair which is in town until 16 December. It will then make room for the long-awaited free outdoor ice rink, which will be installed on the Quai Henri IV from 22 December to 6 January, complete with an authentic chalet selling crêpes, mulled wine and other winter delicacies.
On Saturday 15 December, an extra sparkle will come in the form of a magical light parade through the streets of the town centre. From 3 to 5:30pm, four musicians dressed in luminous clothes will light up the winter and warm people's hearts with their songs and stories. A week later, on 22 December, all aboard the musical train! At 3pm, the surprising ‘Loco Musicale’ will leave the Town Hall, cross the buzzing shopping streets and end its journey at the ice rink, where elves will share a snack with all the children. Once again, these street shows are free.
As Christmas is all about (well almost) food, don’t forget to treat yourself to one of our sweet or savoury delicacies when you’re in town. Dieppe is the place to tuck into glorious seafood of course, and with over 100 restaurants and brasseries, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Stroll through the town centre, and you’ll also discover a wealth of independent shops and groceries selling locally-sourced products to suit all tastes. Bakers and chocolatiers are particularly good here, so you won’t find it hard to satisfy your sweet tooth before heading home!
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 05/11/18
A taste of gold
According to a recent survey, one of the main reasons British visitors choose to visit France is because of the country’s heavenly food and drink. From cheese to wine, crusty bread to patisseries, France has such a vast culinary heritage that it would indeed be difficult to give a full history in just a few lines. Good news for visitors arriving in this beautiful country on the ferry via Dieppe is that you don’t have to head down south to savour some of France’s most yummy treats. Did you know for instance that Neufchâtel cheese, which is increasingly popular in the UK, is produced in the quaint town of Neufchâtel-en-Bray, just twenty-five miles from Dieppe? On Saturday mornings, local producers head to the town’s market, which was recently crowned the 8th most beautiful of its kind in the whole country, to sell their lovely heart-shaped cheeses on one of the numerous stalls.
As you wander along the streets, letting your senses succumb to the scents and colours of regional delicacies, look out for trendy Camembert Le 5 Frères, which bears a very distinctive blue and white label. Produced on a family farm located in Bermonville, at the heart of the Pays de Caux, thirty miles down the road from Dieppe, it has just been awarded a Gold Medal at the 2018 Farm Cheese Awards. It’s a real Camembert fermier, meaning the entire production process is completed on the farm. All the milk comes from the family’s own herd of 200 dairy cows, and the cheeses are moulés à la louche (moulded by ladle), just as they should be. You must give this one a try.
Another delicacy to taste in Dieppe and bring back home for others to discover is the Pâté au Neufchâtel produced by Antoine Vanost and his father, which is sold in their recently opened shop at the bottom of the Grande Rue, Dieppe’s main shopping street. Venture into Les 3 Conserveries, and you’ll fall for the many local gourmet products showcased there, especially the famous pâté which also recently won a Gold Medal at the Epicures de l’Épicerie Fine national competition.
If you are a fan of Andouillette, the traditional coarse-grained sausage with its distinctive smell, then you should book a table at the Café Suisse, one of Dieppe’s landmarks located under the beautifully-restored Arcades. Last January, Chef Vincent Normand received the Grand Prize at the international competition rewarding the world’s best Andouillettes! It’s definitely the right place to tuck into this dish!
You may be aware the Dieppe is France’s scallop capital. With scallop season in full swing, now is the time to head down to the town’s two fish markets to fill up of the freshest of seafood. Only a month ago, Dieppe’s scallops were awarded a Label Rouge (Red Label), which is a sign of quality assurance in France. It certifies that a product has a specific set of characteristics establishing a superior level to that of a similar current product. This decision comes as a reward for Dieppe’s many fishermen who work hard from dusk to dawn to bring healthy seafood to our plates.
If you too want to savour the best of Dieppe, pay us a visit on 17-18 November, when the huge herring and scallop festival is on. It’s one of the country’s largest and truly showcases the flavours of this authentic and welcoming French town.
© Photo d'illustration : Pascal Diologent
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 17/09/18
Hand in hand
With Brexit and ‘Scallop wars’ headlining the news in the past few weeks, it is needless to say that Anglo-French relations haven't been at their best lately. Being born in Brighton and having grown up in Dieppe, I am the first to be saddened by this, although as usual the media is only telling half of the story. Seen from Dieppe, a town which has shared very strong relations with the UK for centuries, the whole picture is indeed far from being bleak, and the general atmosphere here is actually quite positive.
As I already underlined in this blog, the ferry line which links Dieppe to Newhaven is still going strong and passenger numbers are slightly on the rise. This goes to show that despite the weakness of the pound, many British citizens are still choosing to visit France, and especially Normandy, where they feel at home while experiencing a break from the norm. Dieppe of course is often the first port of call for many visitors, a town where they receive a warm welcome and can savour the best of France as soon as they set foot off the ferry.
Hundreds chose to stay in Dieppe over the past ten days, when the international kite festival was in full swing. This years’ event was bigger and better than ever and attracted tens of thousands of visitors from around the world. The festival gained international press coverage, with many British papers sharing photos of the colourful parade and crowded seafront. I was pleased to hear so many people speaking English while strolling around town last weekend, like a reminisce of the good old days which saw British visitors pour into Dieppe when the ferry docked right bang in the heart of town. When tourists return to Dieppe after many years, they are generally surprised to discover how much the town has changed, although it has retained its spirit and atmosphere.
Graham Percey and his buddies can certainly confirm! The ‘Made in Newhaven’ team have just returned home to the UK after spending ten days in Dieppe, where they exhibited and sold works by talented local artists at the Effet Mer pop-up art gallery on the Quai Duquesne. The initiative was a great success and the Newhaven gang met lots of friendly Dieppois who asked them to come back again soon. Another British artist who has recently received a very warm welcome here is Brighton-based singer and songwriter Adam Davis, who has already played three times in Dieppe this year and who even has a small fan base in town!
Forget the doom and gloom: Dieppe still has its arms wide open to British visitors, artists and investors and can play an important role in strengthening the relationship between France and the UK in the months and years to come. Vive l'entente cordiale !
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 06/08/18
I was born in Brighton and grew up in Dieppe, two towns I love deeply and that have helped me become the person I am. Time flies, friends come and go, relatives sadly pass away, but as years go by, both Brighton and Dieppe manage to retain their identity. In an age where everything is moving at the speed of light, I find that reassuring and comforting in many ways. Over the past few years, I however realized I had come to defend and promote Dieppe a lot more than Brighton, probably because this French town needs more ambassadors and publicity than London-by-the-sea does.
According to the Office for National Statistics, Brighton’s population will increase by 17,100 by 2026 and the famous seaside resort is expected to become one of the top performing cities in the UK in terms of economic and employment growth across the coming months and years. Unfortunately, the same cannot really be predicted for Dieppe. Despite being France’s oldest seaside resort and the closest beach to Paris, this dynamic middle-sized town isn't experiencing the growth in jobs and population that other parts of the country are seeing, and especially that it deserves.
I have always said that Dieppe is a real gem of a town and a place unlike any other. It’s a great town to live, visit and invest, but has yet to unveil all its potential. I met a British couple on the beach three weeks ago who had just moved to Dieppe from Brighton as they were having difficulty affording the high cost of living on the other side of the Channel. They said they were impressed by the quality of life Dieppe offers and were surprised by the town’s infrastructure, facilities and affordable property prices. Word-of-mouth will now do the job around them but its important to get the word out there in the first place.
Today more than ever, I can therefore say that you don’t have to go far to experience the best of all that France has to offer. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous food & drink, historic streets, good shops, authentic cafés and brasseries, bustling markets and a touch of douceur de vivre can all be found right here in Dieppe. Simply hop on the ferry and four hours later you’ll be sipping a coffee at the Tout Va Bien.
Good news though is that the wind has already started to turn. Since the beginning of the year, both ferry passenger numbers and visitor numbers are on the rise. The good weather has certainly helped, but many people have also begun to rediscover Dieppe, which I like to call Normandy’s coolest town. Neither snobby nor shabby, distinctively different to many other seaside towns which are either rundown, either somewhat pretentious, Dieppe has finally started to catch the tourists' eyes again. Many people are also choosing to settle and live in Dieppe.
Just like London, which is seeing the biggest exodus to other parts of the UK for more than a decade, Paris’ population is also declining. 40,000 people have left the city in the past five years, and while most are heading to the suburbs or the South of France, others are buying properties in Dieppe, which is easily accessible from the capital via rail or road. Investors are also choosing Dieppe. Opposite the train station, entrepreneur Jean-Edouard Criquioche is currently building one of France’s most unique cinemas, which will boast eight ultra-modern movie rooms when it opens its doors next year. A consortium of investors, architects, planners and allied professionals have also selected Dieppe as the location for Normandy’s Oceanography Centre, which will be nothing less than one of Europe’s biggest aquariums in 2021.
Choose Dieppe to visit, live or invest: you won’t regret it!
Blogs / The depths and delights of Dieppe 11/06/18
Believe in youth!
One of Dieppe’s main strengths is its young population. Over 20% of the town’s inhabitants are under the age of eighteen and approximately 36% are under the age of thirty. These young people greatly contribute to the town’s economy, cultural scene, nightlife and sport activities. The Lycée Jehan Ango, Dieppe’s main high school where astronaut Thomas Pesquet obtained his baccalauréat (A-Levels), is one of Normandy’s largest schools and its proximity to the town centre helps many cafés, food outlets and shops maintain a young clientele.
Over 3000 dieppois under the age of twenty-five practice a sport activity, which is a substantial number when you know that the town’s population is just over 30000. There are seventy sports clubs in Dieppe, most of which are formed of young members. 23% of the under 25s also practice a musical instrument, and Dieppe’s wonderful music school is undoubtably one of the most active in the region. Many young musicians meet there and go on to form bands that sometimes gain national attention. Local pop-rockers 4 the Hackers are currently touring the country for instance but will be back home on 18 August for a concert on the beach.
Thanks to these talented musicians but also a young and captive audience, Dieppe’s live scene is currently booming. Over ten bars and pubs now programme gigs on a weekly or monthly basis, and some even have two bands playing live every weekend. Jazz enthusiasts head to the Entrepôt café under the arcades, rock music lovers pack the Au Bout Là-Bas pub to the brim and reggae fans meet at the BDB when the weekend hits in. This vibrant music scene has led famous guitarist Nicolas Bravin to call Dieppe “the French Liverpool”: a town of contrasts and vitality, where workers and artists party together and with musical bands aplenty.
The town’s reputation as a young, lively and musical hot spot is now helping Dieppe become a trendy destination. Last month, pop heroes Tahiti 80, nicknamed “the French Beach Boys” by the press, chose Dieppe to shoot their latest video, which is already a hit on YouTube. The town is also trending on Instagram, and tourism is on the rise. On the ferry route liaising Newhaven to Dieppe, passenger numbers have increased by 8.58% in the first semester, which is of course very satisfying. More and more people are choosing to use this route not only because the line is convenient and the ferries on time, but also because Dieppe is a great town to visit, boasting fantastic restaurants, good shops, interesting architecture and a great music scene too. Come see for yourself soon!