Tag Archives: Etaples

Fete du Hareng Roi – November 9-10 at Etaples

All this week at Etaples, volunteers from the “Bons Z’Enfants”, an association dedicated to maintaining local traditions, will be hard at work preparing for the 21st annual “Hareng Roi”.

To find out more about their preparations, take a look at the Hareng Roi website where you’ll learn about the enthusiasm and energy that goes into the production of this traditional festival celebrating the historic importance of the annual herring migration to the port’s fishing fleet..

If you are looking for something interesting and entertaining to do next weekend, the Hareng Roi at Etaples is our suggestion.  You’ll be tempted by the aroma from the outdoor barbecues where the herrings (smoked, marinaded or plain) are char-grilled to perfection by salty looking mariners in traditional seagoing fisherman’s garb.  Meanwhile the ladies of Etaples, in traditional costume complete with lace headresses, cut baguettes and prepare and serve fish soup, tarts, tartines, vin chaud and other accompaniments to the famous herring.

The meal is taken under cover of marquees, sitting at long communal tables, mixing with other visitors to the town, while entertainment is provided by singers and bands playing music with a nautical theme while dressed in appropriate costume.  The cost will come to between 5 and 10 euros a head, depending on how much you want to eat and drink.  You would be hard pushed to find better value for a satisfying meal and an entertaining outing, anywhere.

There’s also an exhibition area with a wide variety of art and craft work on show, as well as demonstrations of maritime ropework, lace headress making, model boat making and other traditional local activities.  Some of the stalls sell local cheeses, jams, biscuits, etc.

The quayside at Etaples is a very buzzy place to be during the Hareng Roi and it’s well worth a visit even if you don’t intend to eat the delicious grilled fish.

A Tourist Day Out and Restaurant Review

We are pleased to re-publish a piece including a restaurant review which appeared recently in “Sand-Blog”, an occasional journal written by Frogsiders publisher and local gite owner, Patrick Hay.

“Yesterday was my birthday, and in keeping with a family tradition that now

View from the fish quay at Etaples

stretches back 12 months, we took part of the day off to put ourselves in the place of our Sandboys holiday clients, and go and do something “touristy” in the region. This time we drove a few miles along the coast to have a look at Etaples and, in particular, the Museum of the Fishing Industry, « Maréis », which we had heard was well-presented and very interesting.

Etaples used to be one of France’s biggest fishing ports in terms of the tonnage of fish landed, but over the last 50 years, the estuary of the River Canche has silted up to the point where today’s larger fishing vessels are unable to use the harbour. The fishermen of Etaples, however, unwilling to lose the town’s major industry, have simply moved their boats a few miles up the coast to the port of Boulogne.

The fishermens’ cooperative of Etaples numbers some 50 boats in its fleet. Most of them sail at the beginning of each week and remain at sea until Thursday or Friday when they return with their catch, a proportion of which is retained by the cooperative for sale in their own fresh fish shops and restaurants in Boulogne and Etaples. Some of the boats keep back a little of the catch to be sold direct to the public from the stalls on the fishmarket quay at Etaples.  Each stall is decorated with paintings and the colours of the boat to which it belongs. Altogether, in supplying, manning, and maintaining the fleet, marketing, processing, transporting, selling, cooking and serving the fish, the cooperative provides work for thousands of people in Etaples and Boulogne.

MAREIS in the old "corderie" at Etaples

At Maréis you can see how the different types of fishing nets work and the variety of fish that are caught in the Channel waters between France and the south coast of England. There are aquaria where you can see the fish up very close, and rock pools where crabs crawl among mussels, starfish, oysters, scallops, shrimps and other seashore creatures. You can stand on the bridge of a modern fishing boat with its radar screens and depth sounders demonstrating the complicated world of the fishing boat skipper. There are guided tours and demonstrations, and films showing life on the boats are screened.  Finally there’s a tank where you can gently stroke rays, as they swim playfully around from one hand to the next.

We enjoyed our visit, and left via the shop where we found some nice books, games and souvenirs including a soft toy in the shape of a ray.

As a special birthday treat in the evening we had dinner at a restaurant in Montreuil which has been getting exceptionally good reviews recently. As

Magret de Canard with lovely sauce, crisp potato cake and vegetables

a result of one of the best meals we’ve eaten in France for many years, we can thoroughly recommend L’Atelier 26, in rue d’Hérambaut.  It looks like an ordinary bar or cafe from the outside. Inside it is furnished sparsely and simply, but it is warm and there is a friendly welcome, and above all, the food is top quality at reasonable prices. After a delightful complimentary appetiser and excellent seafood starters, our main courses were Haddock with a Smoked Herring sauce, and Roast Breast of Duck with a Cocoa Bean and Hot Pepper sauce. Both were superbly cooked, beautifully balanced for flavour, and nicely presented. The “moelleux au chocolat chaud coeur coulant caramel”, Chocolate “Moelleux” dessert with a fondant centre, was superior to anything we’ve had in top London and Paris restaurants. Normally a 3 course meal of this quality would cost almost double the 65 euros we paid for two, including wine and aperitifs.

Photos of L'Atelier 26, Montreuil-sur-Mer

L'Atelier 26 at Montreuil sur Mer

We’ll certainly go again to L’Atelier 26 soon and report more details. It seems it is open at lunchtime Monday to Saturday, and evenings on Friday and Saturday only. They will serve a simple omelette and chips, or a full three course meal. On the evidence of our one visit, value-for-money is outstanding.”

This photo of L’Atelier 26 is courtesy of TripAdvisor

“Peintres dans la Rue” at Sainte Cecile, and the dimwits at Etaples

Some of us have to work on Saturdays. Unfortunately I’m one of them – and this Saturday, September 11 looks like being a busy one.

A pity, because if I could, I would like to go to Sainte Cécile, a little seaside place between Boulogne and Etaples, where I would stroll around watching other people at work. These workers, however, will be doing something far more creative and lasting than I shall on Saturday, because they are les “Peintres dans la Rue”, the artists who paint outdoors in the streets of the town, and at the end of the day hold an exhibition (and sale) of the day’s work.

If you’re interested you can find out more by phoning 03 21 84 72 18, or just turn up on the day, have a stroll and some lunch and watch people using hand, eye, imagination and talent as they create works of art.

On the other hand, I would stay well away from Etaples, where there will be a meeting of lots of poorly-endowed, silly, leather-clad males on motor bikes. Apparently the one with the smallest dick – you can tell by the amount of noise and burning rubber smoke he is able to make with his bike – wins the admiration of all the rest. You might think this a strange way to spend the day and an odd and perverse competition, but let’s be charitable to the afflicted and allow them to have their fun – preferably a long way away.