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.
Perhaps because of its drippy-sounding name, Dieppe is unfairly characterised in the British media as a boring and rainy resort, popular only for its ease of access from Newhaven. Well, the town can't do anything about the weather, but there is little truth to the rest of the cliché. Dieppe is in fact the nearest beach resort to Paris, and is lively all year round. It has a fine beach, a good range of activities, several pretty harbours, lots of attractive brick architecture and numerous critically-acclaimed seafood restaurants.
Dieppe is also 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.
- 1 Office de Tourisme Dieppe-Maritime, Pont Jehan Ango / Quai du Carénage, ☎ . Jul, Aug: M—Sa 09:00—19:00, Su 09:30—13:00 / 14:00—17:30; Apr—Jun, Sep: M—Sa 09:00—13:00 / 14:00—18:00, Su 09:30—13:00 / 14:00—17:30; Oct—Mar: M—Sa 09:30—13:00 / 14:00—17:00, Su closed; bank holidays (jours fériés): 09:30—13:00 / 14:00—17:30.
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 restaurants, especially for seafood, around the quayside area.
- 1 À la Marmite Dieppoise, 8 Rue Saint-Jean, ☎ . Open Tu—Sa 11:00—14:00, 19:00—22:00; Su 11:00—14:00. Specialists in seafood and local dishes.
- 2 Comptoir à Huître, Cours de Dakar, ☎ . Seafood restaurant.
- 3 Le Bistrot du Pollet, 23 Rue Tête de Bœuf, ☎ . Very small seafood restaurant.
- 4 Les Voiles d'Or, 2 Chemin de la Falaise, ☎ . W—Sa: 12:00—13:30, 20:00—21:00; Su: 12:00—13:30. 1 Michelin-starred restaurant with focus on seasonal and local quality. According to restaurant, the average table spends €38 at lunchtime and €70 in the evening..
You won't find a veggie French restaurant in Dieppe; in this regard the town is unfortunately typical of France as a whole. In fact, vegetarians will have a hard time in most restaurants here. Two good options serving vegetarian food from other cuisines are:
- 5 Ankara, 18-20 Rue de la Rade, ☎ . Excellent Turkish restaurant with a typically warm Turkish welcome.
- 6 La Bekaa, 10 Quai du Carénage, ☎ . M—Sa 12:00—14:00, 19:00—23:00. Good Lebanese restaurant which serves generous portions.
For a town of its size, Dieppe has quite a few bars and pubs, and most of them stay open late, typically until 2:00 weekdays and 4:00 on weekends.
Traditional French ambiance
- 1 Café des Tribunaux, 1 Place du Puits Salé, ☎ . Open every day, 09:00—20:00. The oldest and the most popular café in town. It often gets crowded at weekends but has a very nice atmosphere to it.
- 2 La Potinière, Rue du 19 Août 1942, ☎ . M—F 08:00—midnight; Sa 08:00—02:00; Su 10:30—midnight. Friendly place, outdoor seating, has a genuine buzz at all hours.
- 3 Mieux ici qu'en face, 9 Quai de la Somme, ☎ . The name means "better here than opposite", which makes perfect sense with this bar's good views pver the harbour towards the old town. English-speaking staff.
- 4 Cactus, 71 Quai Henri IV, ☎ . Reggae-themed pub and café with good cocktails and beer.
- 5 Epsom, 11 Boulevard de Verdun, ☎ . Su—Th noon—01:00; F, Sa noon—02:00. Large selection of cocktails and tapas.
- 6 La Taverne du Pirate, 91 Quai Henri IV, ☎ . Tu—Sa 10:00—23:00. Pirate-themed tavern with quick meals available
- 7 Le Cambridge Pub, 2 Rue de l'Épée, ☎ . Tu—F 17:00—02:00; Sa 11:00—02:00. Cocktails, whisky and draft beer served in the décor of an old-fashioned English pub.
- 8 Casino de Dieppe, 3 Boulevard de Verdun, ☎ . Casino that was renovated in 2017, attached to a large hotel (see below).
- 1 Grand Hôtel du Casino, 3 Boulevard de Verdun, ☎ . Large hotel attached to a casino. From €70 / night.
- 2 Hôtel de l'Europe, 63 Boulevard de Verdun, ☎ . Nautical-themed hotel with sea views. Free wifi and onsite restaurant. From €78 / night.
- 3 Hôtel Mercure Dieppe la Présidence, 1 Boulevard de Verdun, ☎ . Modern hotel, all rooms with TV and wifi, some with sea views From €90 / night.
- 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.