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Written by MichaelJM on 21 May, 2006
We’d landed in Dieppe on many occasions but driven straight out of town. This time we decided to check out the town and venture a little further than the port and harbour area. It is an interesting place, and we were pleased that we’d made…Read More
We’d landed in Dieppe on many occasions but driven straight out of town. This time we decided to check out the town and venture a little further than the port and harbour area.
It is an interesting place, and we were pleased that we’d made the effort to drive to the top of the hill to the "vieux chateau." We parked just outside the walls, and some of the views from the top across the rooftops out to the harbour and beyond are quite superb. Indeed, I later read that several accomplished artists (Pissarro, Renoir and Delecroix) had been inspired to paint the scene. That must tell us something! The "solid" looking chateau, with its three pepper-pot towers (there were four originally), was originally constructed back in the 15th century to keep the marauding British at bay; was a prison during the French revolution; and thereafter was an army barracks. From 1906 it was unoccupied and was very close to being demolished until the authorities stepped in and declared it would be retained as a museum. Now there’s ever a changing set of exhibitions alongside Dieppe’s debatable art heritage of finely carved ivory—now frowned upon but nevertheless these were painstakingly carved by sailors whiling away the long days at sea or more accomplished sculptors. We decided to follow our noses and walk down to the harbour (the car was well-parked and we didn’t fancy finding another spot) although we had to remind ourselves that walking down did also require us walking back up! However, the lure of a fish lunch in one of the many harbour restaurants was enough to convince us that the effort would be worth our while.Dieppe’s St. Remy Church looks forlorn and somewhat dilapidated, but it is worth pocking your nose inside because this 16th-century church (that’s when work started although it wasn’t completed until well into the 19th) has some fine Renaissance decoration, interesting windows, and a superb rococo organ.The Porte des Tourelles is the only part left of Dieppe’s ramparts, and the other side of St. Remy is one of the oldest inns in Dieppe, Café des Tribunaux. You won’t be able to miss this tall white building with the clock face at the top right in the centre of Dieppe. It dates back to the late 1600s but in the 1730s it was known as cabaret de l’Horloge (I wonder why!). Keep an eye out for the oldest building in town, a timber-framed building built in 1621, and I’d recommend that you check out the church of St. Jacques. This place has some superbly grotesque gargoyles and small chapels, fantastically lit by the light through the intricate stained-glass windows. On a Saturday the streets are rammed with market traders selling all manner of local products including, of course a wide variety of fresh catches from the sea. And then we wandered around the busy quayside enjoying the smells, sounds and bustle of Dieppe’s livelihood.