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Not everyone realises how to Book Direct. When you book a holiday with one of the big online travel agents (OTA’s) a large share of what you pay goes to towards their commission. 
By booking direct on our website you will typically pay around 20% less and  have direct contact with the owner before you book. On most bookings that’s the cost of a great meal out for the family.
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V2 Rocket Launch Sites near Le Touquet

V1 Doodlebug Rocket

La Coupole Helfaut-Wizernes

An original V2 rocket donated by the US to the Coupole museum.
Original V2 Rocket at La Coupole

V2 Rocket Launch Sites, A Hidden History of Pas-de-Calais.

 The Pas-de-Calais department is rich in history, particularly WW1 and WW2 history, due to the heavy presence of occupying Germans in both conflicts. The WW1 sites are famous, but the French state has also turned the remains of several WW2 sites into historic destinations. In particular, it’s restored the bunkers built as V2 rocket launch sites aimed at England in 1944.   

Barely more than an hour’s drive from Le Touquet, you can visit two fascinating WW2 places in one day.  Both belong to the history of  V2 rockets, the first missiles ever launched. After the war,  Wernher von Braun’s genius but deadly invention became the early rocket technology of the US space program. Most of the V2s that caused so much death and damage in England in September 1944 launched from the Netherlands. However,  the Pas-de-Calais was an experimental and practical site of the V2 rocket programme.

La Coupole: a Megalith for V2s Rocket Launches.

An exterior view of the V2 rocket launch site, the bunker dome at Wizernes, known as La Coupole museum
Exterior View of La Coupole
La Coupole is a spectacular place. Squatting the hills near Saint-Omer, it’s a massive dome that hides an underground bunker made up of large rooms and tunnels that any James Bond villain would enjoy.  Its purpose was deadly: but its construction had been too. Hundreds of slave labourers were used to build what was conceived as one of the main V2 rocket launch sites. In the event, the Germans abandoned the bunker after the Allies bombed it in the summer of 1944,  and it was never used for its purpose.
 

Nowadays, La Coupole is one of the most ambitious museums in Northern France. This giant concrete dome showcases the scientific and military history of the V2 rockets and a 3D Planetarium about the space age. It also serves as the regional memorial to the victims of Nazi Occupation in France.

A centre to educate and entertain, La Coupole offers several exciting exhibits. It also serves to show documentary films about the Second World War and put on temporary exhibitions.  One such is running until the end of June 2019 – British Aviation in the Skies of Northern France, 1943-1944.  

Attractions

By far the greatest draw are the V2 rockets circuit and exhibits and the Planetarium. Charting the development of V2 rockets from von Braun’s design board up to the end of the war, the V2 circuit explains and demonstrates early rocket technology. It also explores the historical use of V2s against London and other cities.

The Planetarium screens a 3D show three times a day and picks up where the circuit leaves off, taking the audience from the V2 rockets to the moon landings. To achieve full impact, it is experiential rather than documentary methods, so that you are launched into the exploration of space in 3D, with film, sound and light effects.

 

Le Blockaus at Eperlecques: hi-tech war in the forest

Bunker at Eperlecques, known as Le Blockaus - V1 and V2 rocket launch site in Pas-de-Calais.
Blockhaus at Eperlecques
Less than half-an-hour from La Coupole, across the Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale, is the foreboding concrete block known as Le Blockhaus,  a German word meaning ‘bunker’. Using slave labour, the Germans built the bunker as a launch site for the V1 flying bomb (also known as the Doodlebug), and for the V2 rockets. They abandoned its original purpose after aerial bombardments in the summer of 1944, and converted it into a liquid oxygen factory. 
 
While less sophisticated than the nearby V2 rocket launch site museum at Wizernes, the Blockhaus demonstrates the reality of the V1 and V2 programme in its harsh reality. 
  
V1 Doodlebug Rocket

Practical details for your V2 launch sites visits.

La Coupole-Wizernes site diagram by the Allies in September 1944.
Allied diagram of the V2 bunker at Wizernes

Directions

  • To La Coupole, Wizernes by car from Le Touquet: via the A16 and the N42 roads. 
  • From La Coupole to Eperlecques Blockhaus by car: via the D943 road. 
  • There is a train from Le Touquet (Etaples) to Saint-Omer, and a shuttle called Moveo from Saint-Omer to La Coupole. 
  • Length of visit: La Coupole history museum average length of visit: 2.5 hours. 
  • Open daily from 9AM to 6PM, and in July and August, from 10AM to 7PM. Closed at Christmas and New Year, and every year between the 7th and the 20th of January. 
  • 3D Planetarium: 3 sessions a day, consisting of a 15 minutes introduction and 30 minutes show. Shows available in English via audio sets. 
  • Blockhaus at Eperlecques: 45 minutes approximately. The area near the bunker is also popular for picnics. 
  • Facilities at La Coupole: audio sets, shop and café, and a free picnic area. 
  • Accessibility: both La Coupole and the Blockhaus d’Eperlecques are accessible to wheelchairs. 
Rocket Storage tunnel in La Coupole bunker at Wizernes, Pas-de-Calais
Ida tunnel at La Coupole, Wizernes

St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church at Le Touquet

St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church at Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

St Joan of Arc - Le Touquet

Le Touquets most beautiful churches are celebrating Christmas with a host of services in the run up to Christmas and beyond. The Joan of Arc church is located next to the town hall in the centre of Le Touquet. This elegant and imposing church is well worth a visit at any time of year.

100 Boulevard Daloz, 62520 Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, France.

Opened: 1912

Located in a prominent position next to the town hall

The first church in France to be dedicated to Saint Joan of Arc, at the request of the British Catholics, the church of St. Joan of Arc replaced an earlier small chapel of saint Andrew which had become too small to answer the needs of Le Touquet Paris Plage, . Economic prosperity, the fashion for sea-bathing, and the constant presence of the British were the cause of many architectural programmes of great quality which are still the signature of the resort today. 

Built following the plans of Lucien Viraut, the vast church of St. Joan of Arc was opened 14th July 1911. Largely destroyed in the bombing of 4th July 1944, the church was rebuilt and finished in 1954, and enlarged in 1958 by lengthening the transept. It has a Latin cross plan, a nave with side aisles, and a five-sided apse. 

Inside, the vast and light nave is vaulted in wood, representing the over-turned keel of a boat. The stained glass windows, by several contemporary artists, tell the life of Jesus, around the sanctuary, and different episodes of the life of Joan of Arc along the transepts and nave.

In 2008 a new organ was installed, one of the most important in the Region and whose repertory valorizes the exceptional acoustics of the church. The exterior, surrounded by gardens, has a high steeple whose architecture reminds us of that of the civilian belfries in the region, and reflects that of the imposing and elegant town hall facing it which had recently been classified as a Historical Monument.

Joan of Arc Catholic Church Le Toquet

If you want to know more about things to do in Le Touquet then visit our Top 10

Enduro du Touquet Pas-de-Calais

Enduro Le Touquet

Le Touquet Enduro 31st January - 2nd February 2020

The Enduro du Touquet Pas-de-Calais or beach race started out in 1975 aided by the Le Touquet mayor, Léonce Deprez. Its popularity increases every year with some 1000 motorbikes, Quad bikes and 250,000 spectators filling the towns hotels and self catering villa accommodation. If you are planning on going for the weekend of motocross then book your accommodation early. The race normally takes place around the end January or early February every year.

Enduro du Touquet - The Race

The Le Touquet Enduro is very much a family and biker event, combining the serious competitor challenge of the race with a mad social weekend for all concerned. The roar of motorbike engines can be heard everywhere in the chic seaside resort often into the early hours. Even if you are not really a motorbike fan, the site of some 1000 + motorbikes and quads screaming along the sand dunes is an exhilarating experience.
The main race for Le Touquet Sand Enduro, as it is also known, takes place on  the Sunday. More recent years has seen the increasing popularity of the quad bike race on the Saturday with some 150 riders taking part.

Quad Bikes Le Touquet

The Route

The start line of the enduro motorcycle race is on the main beach close to the Aqualud water park and fun fair. The route stretches some 16Kms continuing along the beach past Stella Plage and Merlimont. The Sunday morning sees a continued swell in the numbers of people and traffic entering the town. L’Opale villa in Alle de Jonquille is an excellent self catering villa to rent for the weekend or longer holiday. It provides a tranquil escape from the biker bash of the town yet provides easy access to a good viewing spot.

From L’Opale villa its an easy 15 minute walk down to the beach at Stella Plage. The beach at Stella Plage tends to be less crowded and you can get a good view of the mad biker action. For more details and how to book holiday cottages then please visit our website.

Recent environmental concerns with the preservation of Le Touquet’s sand dunes have seen some changes in the route over the past few years, but careful management and consultation with environmental groups should see the continuation of this exhilarating motorbike race for years to come. The race takes place around the end of Januray early February each year. Even if you can’t make the amazing  Enduro. Le Touquet – Paris Plage  is a beautiful 1920’s style holiday resort with glorious beaches and magical pine forests and has something to offer tourists all year round.

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