Dieppe has a long and interesting history, having been an important port linking William the Conqueror's English kingdom with his Normandy duchy in the 11th century, and later an important port for smuggling. It endured centuries of conflict right up until 1944. Today, it's an important ferry and fishing port, and a pleasant seaside resort.
Dieppe is the nearest beach to Paris, lively all year round. It is also well-known for sea food.
Dieppe is well-known for a raid on the area during World War II, on the 19th of August 1942, by a predominantly Canadian force. Casualties were heavy and some consider the attack a disaster for the Allies, but others argue that it provided intelligence that was essential in planning the D-Day invasion. Later in the war, as the Allies drove east after D-Day, Canadian troops had the left flank and liberated Dieppe. You will rarely find a French flag flying in Dieppe without a Canadian flag alongside it.
DFDS Seaways from Newhaven, England carries cars and foot passengers across the English Channel (la manche in French) in about 4 hours for £20 each way (on foot). The ferry has a bar, shop, really nice restaurant, and lounge deck. There are trains to Dieppe from Rouen (40min- 10 Euros) or Paris (2h- 22 Euros). The town also has a small aerodrome, situated in Saint-Aubin (2 miles away).
Dieppe is a small town with a population of about 35,000 (54,000 for the metropolitan area called Dieppe Maritime). Most of the tourist destinations are within walking distance of hotels, but you can hire bicycles for a few Euros per day from opposite the tourist information office in the harbour area.
The historic town centre, reconstructed by M. De Ventabren, architect to Louis XIV, after the bombardment of 1694.
- ESTRAN Cité de la Mer, 37 Rue de l'Asile Thomas 76200, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10-12am and 2-6:30pm daily. Marine museum with displays that cover shipping, fishing, geography, and the history of Dieppe, there is also an aquarium €3.
- Château-Musée de Dieppe. the Castle Museum. Fine art and carvings exhibited in the well preserved castle building. Open 10-12am and 2-6:00pm daily. Entry €5. There are three entrances, but the most interesting access is through the tower based in the Square du Canada.
- The memorial to the 19 August 1942 Dieppe raid, Place Camille Saint-Saëns. (one block behind the seafront at the castle end of the beach). Open Mid June - End September, 2-6pm daily except Tuesdays.. This is a small but well-presented museum that has taken over the Italian-style Petit Theatre. Fascinating film with interviews with those who were there. You will need about an hour to watch it all and look at the museum. €3.
- L'église Saint Jacques. contains an unusual 16th century freize depicting tribal life in the Amazon, commissioned by the Dieppoise explorer Jean Ango. The church also houses a set of stained glass windows commemorating the 1639 departure of three Augustine Sisters to Quebec, where they founded the Hôtel-Dieu du Quebec—the first hospital in North America—and the Canadian raid on Dieppe 303 years later.
- La Maison Miffant (just behind the Dieppe City of Art and History information centre). the oldest house of the city. It can be found rue d'Ecosse.
- Avenue Verte - Hire a bike, and head for the 40km traffic free Avenue Verte, which follows the old Paris-Dieppe railway. Follow the Rue du Géneral Chazny out of town, through Rouxmesil-Bouteilles to Arques la Bataille. Bear left then right to Saint Aubin le Cauf - you'll find the start of the Avenue Verte before you get to St Aubin.
- Parc Naturel Éducatif Guy Weber, just a few kilometers from the start of the Avenue Verte. It's a wetland reserve managed by APEI (L'Association de Parents d'Enfants Inadaptés de Dieppe), you'll find the ecology well documented, and a host of interesting artworks around the meadows. If you don't want to ride from Dieppe, you can hire bikes here and head on south along the Avenue Verte.
- Saint-Marguerite-sur-Mer. With neighbouring Varengeville, an attractive area just 5km to the west of Dieppe. The painter Georges Braque is buried in the Church of Saint Marguerite.
The Saturday morning market is a must-see. It is one of the largest and one of the most popular markets in Normandy. From 8am to 12:30pm you can find almost everything there.
- International Kite Festival, held every other (even numbered) year in September.
- chez Olivier, rue Saint-Jacques. For French grocery products. A lot of good cheese, wine and coffee.
There are plenty of traditional French restaurants, especially seafood restaurants, around the quayside area. Most of them are located on the street, Henry IV. Comptoir à Huîtres, La Marmite Dieppoise, Le Grand Duquesne, Le Bistrot du Pollet, Le Havre and Les Voiles d'Or are all very good restaurants. They can all be found in the town center except for Les Voiles d'Or, situated just opposite the Bonsecours chapel.
You won't find a veggie restaurant in Dieppe—they're rare in France. In fact, vegetarians will have a hard time in most restaurants here. Two good options are the excellent Turkish Ankara restaurant (rue de la Rade, near the harbour entrance), and the Indian Bombay Restaurant (15 Areades de la Poissonerie).
The café des Tribunaux, situated in the heart of the city, is the oldest and the most popular café in town. It often gets crowded at weekends but has a very nice atmosphere to it. For a town of its size, Dieppe has quite a few bars and pubs, and most of them stay open late (2am weekdays/4am weekends). For good cocktails, try the Epsom and the Europe on the seafront, the Cactus and the Pirate on the Quai Henry IV or the Cambridge pub in the town center. For a very French ambiance, you can try La Potinière, l'Entracte or le Mieux Ici Qu'en Face, three rather cheap and very popular small cafés. Music venues inclued the Manhattan (rue Duquesne), the Madison (rue Saint-Rémy), the Movabé (île du Pollet) and the Abordage, in the Casino.
- Newhaven - Go across the channel to Newhaven in East Sussex. Services take around 4 hours and leave from the outer harbor and are run by DFDS Seaways. Despite the size of this car ferry, places reserved for pedestrians are relatively limited, so you will need to book in advance, although it is much cheaper to travel without a car.