Dieppe is a coastal community in the Siene Maratime department in the Normandy region of Northern France, a port on the English Channel at the mouth of the Arques river. Famous for its scallops, with its regular ferry service to Newhaven, Dieppe also has a popular pebble beach, 15th century castle and the impressive Saint Remi and Saint Jacques churches.
Dieppe has been a favourite for cross channel visitors for many years. Its deep harbour protected by the white cliffs, with its long and fascinating history of seafaring, dating all the way back to the Vikings.
Reflected in the name, the port offers deep waters. Fishing was always a vital trade in Dieppe. From the 15th century this included long distance cod fishing off Newfoundland. Down the centuries links between Dieppe and Canada have been particularly strong.
There have been many bold adventurers who set out from the port to explore and trade in Africa and as well as America. The Dieppe shipping magnate Jean Ango became a celebrated figure in the 16th century for his massive wealth, mainly due to having his finger in many pies.
Commerce in ivory and spices thrived in particular. Abraham Duquesne, one of Dieppe’s most successful naval men, served Louis XIV ably, although in a strongly Catholic nation he remained Protestant.
Corsairs from Dieppe regularly harassed the English navy. In 1694 large parts of the historic port were destroyed by a joint Anglo-Dutch fleet.
After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century Dieppe found a more peaceful, cheerful vocation, as France’s first ever seaside resort. Parisians followed the English traditions and took to holidaying by the sea at Dieppe, with the first purpose-built sea bathing establishment (Etablissement des Bains) in France set up here in 1822.
The resort became a magnet for the British too. During the Belle Epoque there was a bohemian artistic set who appreciated the more relaxed atmosphere this side of the Channel. From both sides of the Channel artists found inspiration here.
Dieppe became a much appreciated first port of call for many British visitors thanks to the ferry links. An Allied raid during the World War II to test the strength of German defences ended in tragedy.
Today Dieppe attracts the crowds with its seafood restaurants, port, pebble beach, historical and cultural attractions, the last aspects recognised in its official classification as a French Ville d’Art et d’Histoire. The Newhaven ferry service draws many British visitors to Dieppe.