10 largest cities in France


Le Touquet


Le Touquet is a small town of 4,500 inhabitants in Pas-de-Calais. Its full name is "Le Touquet-Paris-Plage" but most people ignore this name completely before seeing the sign at the entrance to the city.

It was Mr. Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Daloz, owner of the estate, who (around 1880) decided to create the resort. A few years later, John Whitley invited wealthy British people to come and stay there. Under the direction of Pierre de Coubertin, with the realization of the golf course, the racecourse, the tennis courts, with the organization of events, the "Paris-Plage" resort acquired even greater notoriety. In the interwar period, international personalities rubbed shoulders there, increasing its wealth and growth. Despite the destruction of World War II, Le Touquet Paris-Plage has once again become an internationally renowned resort, where culture, leisure and sports mingle to the delight of tourists.



The buildings listed in the inventory of historical monuments: The covered market, the Town Hall, the post office, the stands of the racecourse and 16 villas.
The Museum, which offers works from the Etaples Regional School, a private collection of modern and contemporary art, collections of photographs by Edouard Champion.
The Parc de l'Estuaire: a 42-hectare, classified natural site located on the northern tip of Le Touquet, which offers 3 nature discovery trails.
The events on offer: various exhibitions, sports competitions, sand sculptures, enduro.

Sport: sand yachting, horse riding, tennis, golf, water sports
Walks: On foot, in the Estuary Park, in the forest, or by bike to discover the heritage of the resort



The oldest traces of the presence of man date back to the Paleolithic. A tool of small points and blades, dating from the Mesolithic, shows that the populations of this period lived by hunting, fishing and harvesting wild plants. From 9000 years BP to 3000 years BP, an upwelling known as the Flandrian transgressions is caused by post-glacial warming. We find traces of important interregional exchanges, including with Great Britain, which date from the Bronze Age (1500 BC).

The first centuries
In those remote times, the place where Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is located today did not exist, it is the result of "fattening" on both sides of the bay of Canche by a massive supply of sand. . Some have thought that the port of Quentovic, was located at the current location of Touquet-Paris-Plage, while today the work of historians on its location, probably make it possible to locate it at the location of the village of La Calotterie. The existence of the Carolingian port of Quentovic is proven from the 7th century. The upwelling in the 4th century, estimated at five meters, would have caused the flooding of the lower parts of the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer and would have made it partly unusable. Quentovic, near the main road which leads to Lyon, would thus have gradually replaced Boulogne. Until the tenth century, the port of Quentovic was the main port of exchange with England. The name of Quentovic was given to a villa located along the boulevard du Docteur-Jules-Pouget (formerly boulevard de la Mer) built in 1895 by the architect Louis Marie Cordonnier, and destroyed at the end of the Second World War, then in the district located to the north-west of Touquet-Paris-Plage, between avenue de Quentovic and boulevard d'Artois, the dunes were leveled and the land leveled around 1923.

Before April 25, 1837
The name Touquet appears for the first time in 1758, with the appellation "pointe du Touquet", on the general map of France, established under the direction of the cartographer César-François Cassini, this map indicates: "Pointe de Lornet, Embouchure de la Canche, Pointe du Touquet, Gué d'Étaples, Tripod, Corps de Garde de l'Anse à Ooine ”then, it appears a second time a few years later, in 1764, with the name“ Banc du Touquet "On the maps of the French cartographer and hydrographer Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, this" map of the entrances to the Canche river and its surroundings as far as Montreuil "indicates:" Cucq, Trépied, grosses dunes or Pourier, pointe du Nez, banc du Touquet ”. The domain is then only made up of sea lais and represents the extreme part of the warrens of Trépied, part forming the turning point of the coast and the estuary of the Canche.

The whole area of ​​Le Touquet, formerly made up only of wild and arid dunes, depended before the French Revolution on the abbey of Saint-Josse.

In order to fix the dunes, taking into account the increasing silting up, the royal letters patent propose the intensive planting of marigolds.

In 1819, the State decided to draw up a precise plan of the former domain of the monks of the abbey of Saint-Josse confiscated during the revolution. The 1,600 hectares of the Garennes de Trépied, hamlet of Cucq, were estimated in 1827 and sold on January 31, 1835 to Mr. Doms, a Belgian who could not pay the amount due. The sale is therefore canceled.

From April 25, 1837 to March 28, 1912
On April 25, 1837, Alphonse Daloz, Parisian notary, bought these lands for 150,000 francs at the time and planted, from 1855 to 1882, on more than 800 hectares of dune warrens in the Picardy lowlands, maritime pines, poplars and alders. The forest of Touquet will stabilize the dunes and give the town a magnificent adornment. These 800 hectares are still covered in 2011 by this real forest.

The first semaphore was installed in 1839 and on November 20, 1847, Étaples was served by the Paris - Amiens - Boulogned 4 railway line. The families of the first keepers of the two lighthouses settled in 1852 and gave the future municipality its motto: Fiat lux, fiat urbs.

Creation of the name Paris-Plage
On April 9, 1882, Alphonse Daloz created the first subdivision, designed by Raymond Lens, surveyor in Étaples, and called it “Paris-Plage”, taking up Hippolyte de Villemessant's proposal. Alphonse Daloz died in 1885, but construction will develop.

Paris-Plage - official name
In 1892, Paris-Plage was recognized as an official name by the various ministries including the Ministry of the Interior and by the President of the Council of Ministers Émile Loubet, thanks to the will of Mr. Ernest Legendre who said that the godfather of the station is Mr. Loubet.


In 1894, establishment of the coat of arms of Touquet, with the motto Fiat Lux, fiat Urbs, by Count Robert de Guyencourt, distinguished heraldist, former president of the society of antiquarians of Picardy, member of the society of antiquaries of France.

Also in 1894, the Briton John Whitley announced with great fanfare his intention to create a Franco-British "pleasure craft" which he named "Mayville" to replace Paris-Plage. The plan he proposes was drawn by the architect Charles Garnier. In 1902, John Whitley and Allen Stoneham, owners of the British company “Le Touquet Syndicate Ltd” bought back for the sum of 8,705,000 F, from the descendants of Alphonse Daloz, the land still unsold, ie nearly 1,100 hectares 12. John Whitley then created the second subdivision (part of Le Touquet today east of Bd Daloz) designed by Joseph-Louis Sanguet. The prosperity of Le Touquet becomes inseparable from the British presence and the evolution of the resort is reflected in the diversity of its architecture.

To satisfy the wishes of the British, several very luxurious hotels were going to be built in a very short time: Atlantic Hôtel, Hôtel des Anglais, Hermitage-Hôtel, Golf-Hôtel, Hôtel Régina. Similarly, Le Touquet will be equipped with two casinos and a large number of sports facilities, John Whitley wishes to make Le Touquet a "sports paradise". Pierre de Coubertin inaugurated the “sports field” on July 14, 1904.

In 1906, Louis Blériot settled in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and carried out his first flight tests over the dunes. These are the beginnings of aviation and after the gliding flight tests of Louis Blériot, Gabriel Voisin (May 27, 1907) and Henri Farman June 1907), René Caudron made the first mechanical flight at Paris-Plage and was the first pilot to fly over the city on July 10, 1910.

Birth of the town of Touquet-Paris-Plage
Taking into account the growing number of inhabitants, on Thursday March 28, 1912, the seaside resort "Paris-Plage" is set up as a commune: "The territory of the commune of Cucq is divided into two communes which will bear the names of Cucq and Touquet -Paris-Plage ”(article 1 of the law of March 28, 1912). The first mayor is Fernand Recoussine and the first secretary general of the town hall Oscar Butel. the new town hall is located in the villa Les Moucherons at the southwest corner of the rue de Londres and rue de Bruxelles.

The Roaring Twenties
Alphonse Daloz's castle, which had been transformed in 1903 into a Hôtel de la Forêt, into a “Sports Castle” by Pierre de Coubertin in 1904, then into a casino in 1907, was destroyed in 1912 and on its site the building was built. Casino de la Forêt. It opens its first season in August 1912. During the Roaring Twenties, it will be one of the most important casinos in Europe: in 1927, it will be the first casino in France by the product of its games (45 million francs) . These considerable revenues will allow the city, which recovers 12% of it, to embark on very expensive work.

The First World War surprises Le Touquet-Paris-Plage in full prosperity. 6,000 Belgian refugees from Ypres and many British and French war wounded find welcoming refuge in the many requisitioned hotels. The municipality of Ypres takes up residence there during the hostilities. The forest casino is transformed into a military hospital.

It is thanks to this Franco-British communion that the station continued its development after the war. The constructions resume, at the same time of many villas and palaces like the Westminster hotel in 1924, one of the jewels of the Touquettoise hotel industry. Paris-Plage then becomes the meeting place for all the personalities on the planet. For example, Noël Coward and the English smart set, who spent the weekend there, commissioned more exceptional villa designs echoing traditional and ultra-modern local styles. Writer Pelham Grenville Wodehouse lived in Le Touquet from 1934 to 1940, until his internment by the German army.

The constructions are taking on an unprecedented scale. The climax will be, on August 12, 1929, the inauguration of the Royal Picardy. This hotel, symbol of the “Roaring Twenties”, is nicknamed by the British “the most beautiful hotel in the world” with its 500 very luxury rooms. The first hundred rooms are occupied upon opening! This seaside El Dorado did not survive the 1929 crisis. However, the resort still enjoyed a few hours of glory, with the stays of Maurice Ravel in particular.


This period between the wars saw luxury boutiques play an important role in Touquet-Paris-Plage. The rue Saint-Jean, at its beginnings, was the street of luxury shops. It joins, in a straight line, the sea to the forest, extending to the Place de l'Hermitage. The branches of Parisian fashion houses presented the collections at the start of the season, which only lasted from July to the end of September. These couturiers, jewelers, shoemakers, decorators who contributed to the reputation of France, through their branches in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, were to the greatest happiness of regulars of large hotels and casinos, as well as residents of the many villas. From boulevard du Docteur-Jules-Pouget (formerly boulevard de la Mer), rue Saint-Jean:
at 18, Jean Labrune, tailor-made shoemaker from Monte-Carlo;
at 31, Au Bucheron, Paris furniture, rue de Rivoli;
at 32, Mallah, jeweler in Paris at 88 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré;
at 37, Ménard, Raoul and Curly, beauty treatments, wigs and hairpieces, avenue de l'Opéra in Paris;
at 46, G. Reynaud, expert jeweler from Monte-Carlo;
at 59, Lloyds Bank;
at 66, Yvonne, furs, haute-couture, in Cannes, Le Majestic;
at 72, The Barclays Bank;
at 84, Hermès on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris.

then at the corner of boulevard Daloz, Le Monnier, mode, Chapeaux de Paris, Place Vendôme. avenue Saint-Jean:
Caillot Sœurs, dresses, coats, avenue de Matignon in Paris, and in London;
Farchy Amar and company, jeweler from rue Daunou in Paris;

finally, avenue du Verger:
at 7, Maurice Ariel, luxury bags, 14 rue du Mont-Thabor in Paris;
at 8, Redfern, ladies' tailor, at 8 rue Royale;
Van Cleef & Arpels, jeweler in Paris and Cannes;
Kostio de War, haute couture on avenue Montaigne in Paris;
Credit du Nord., Etc

The Second World War
From 1940 to 1944, more than 40,000 German soldiers occupied the city, hotels and villas were looted. In 1943, they demolished the prestigious Atlantic Hotel for the benefit of the Todt organization in order to recover the materials which were sent to Germany by train. On each wagon, was written "French gifts to their German friends". The Atlantic Wall was built in 1943 and the first Allied bomb fell on October 2, 1943. In June 1944, the Allied bombings were very heavy and caused immense damage and many deaths, including Mayor Jules Pentier.

The young 37-year-old general secretary of town hall, Fernand Holuigue, succeeded, from 1942, in preventing young people from Touquet-Paris-Plage, aged 18 and over, from leaving for the STO. The procedure, to be put in place and which is requested by the Prefecture, consists of summoning young people, having them fill out forms and questionnaires, after passing a medical examination. The complete files must be sent to the Arras prefecture, where the Prefect issues a receipt in the form of a card given to each of the young people, and on presentation of which they will be given the refueling tickets. This whole procedure should lead to a summons to go to Germany to work within the framework of the STO. Except that the documents will never reach the prefecture. After several reminders, Fernand Holuigue receives the list from an inspector of the prefecture and, for a second time, the procedure is restarted ... but, again, the files do not arrive at the prefecture ... This time, in 1943, it is Paris which sends an inspector to Touquet-Paris-Plage, the exchanges are lively and threatening on both sides, but it is 1943, hope has changed sides, the war will soon be over, and " we will meet again, ”he said to his interlocutor when the latter left. Finally, a police commissioner was dispatched to the town hall of Touquet-Paris-Plage, to assist in the distribution of food tickets, and again, lively and threatening exchanges on both sides. In the end, no young people went to work in Germany. Fernand Holuigue, will narrowly avoid, after denunciation, arrest and deportation.

The town was liberated on September 4, 1944 by the Canadian army. There are 106,745 mines (38,620 in the city, 54,125 in the dunes, the racetrack and the airfield, 13,800 under the houses and 200 in the swimming pool), which made Touquet the most mined town in France.


The destruction is very important, the activity resumes very slowly. Reconstructions begin, for example, on May 17, 1956, Bernard Chochoy, Secretary of State for Reconstruction and Housing, inaugurates the motels of the “Residence du Golf” made to plans by architect Maurice Gridaine, and built in the location of the golf hotel destroyed by the bombings. In March 1969, the city rented for twenty years, the part of the casino of the forest, except gaming rooms, in order to carry out the creation of a convention center and to allow the adhesion to “France Congrès” and, from 1970, February 6, Touquet-Paris-Plage is admitted as the thirteenth congress city of France with effect from January 1, 1971, following this admission, from June 11 to 14, 1970 the national assembly of the famous Round Table, with 700 participants, at Touquet-Paris-Plage its twentieth anniversary, tourism is developing again with the construction of the hotel school in 1972 in place of the Royal Picardy hotel, the creation in 1974 by Louison Bobet of the thalassotherapy center, the first edition in 1975 of the Enduro du Touquet created by Thierry Sabine, the transformation in 1976 of the Normandy into a Casino of the 4 seasons. The activities throughout the year make Le Touquet the “4 seasons resort”.

On February 4, 2003, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage made the headlines in the media on the occasion of the Franco-British summit which brought together Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair. Then in July 2003, the downgrading of the small runway at the airport enabled the launch of the “New Century” space project. It is a new chapter which opens in the history of Touquet. In 2009, the city's events policy was refocused around sport, culture, family and gastronomy; new events are organized.

To celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the station on March 28, 2012, the municipality has sought to make it "the station of elegance", just like it was in the 1930s, and defined a hundred projects for the hundred years of the town.