There are two parts to Boulogne: the old town and the new town. The old town with its imposing basilica and the town’s museum was where we headed straight away. Big stone ramparts separated the old from the new, and the divide between them were stark. Newer Boulogne was mostly grey and ugly… Whereas the old was more lively and far more appealing to the eye (I feel mean saying these things but this is an *honest* blog).
We both bought student tickets that gave us access to both the permanent exhibitions of the Boulogne Museum (Musee Boulogne-sur-Mer) and the crypts below the Notre Damn Basilica (Basilica of Notre Dame de Boulogne)which were only 4€ each. Very good value for 5 hours of knowledge and history!
The museum had exhibitions that were centered mostly on ancient or “endangered” cultures – such as the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Greeks and tribes that had largely died out or had their culture erased (such as those in Alaska). They had handy cards in each room which translated the large information boards in English and other languages, such as German. The little descriptions on individual objects were still all in French but you could understand them after reading the big English info cards.
The museum had 4 floors and took us about 3 hours to get through, after reading every information panel in English. We then had a short walk to the basilica, where we headed down some stairs into the crypts.
The crypts were pretty spectacular – an intriguing mix of different periods of history (including medieval French and ancient Roman, from the temple that the basillica was built over). Every information panel was split exactly between French and English translations and gave insight into architectural styles as well as general history of the crypts.
I always love going into crypts- you’re exploring the underground worlds of the church where they kept both really precious things and junk they felt they didn’t need before. That mix of stuff means you never know what you’re going to find!
We loved our day of seeing Boulogne’s treasures and I think we made the best choice of what to go see!