The Imperial Trail

Following in Napoleon’s footsteps and exploring the strategic locations of the Camp of Boulogne is what the Imperial Trail is all about.

This 14-kilometre route takes you inland, as well as along the coast. 

What remains of the Camp of Boulogne? What remains of Napoleon’s dreams of conquest? There are still many remains of this key episode in the history of Napoleon to be found in Boulogne-sur-Mer and across Boulonnais more generally. From 1803 to 1805, 120,000 men had been mobilised for the invasion of England. This certainly upset the daily lives of the locals... Civil and religious buildings were transformed into arsenals and storage depots, and private mansions were requisitioned by the chiefs of staff. Napoleon stayed in the fortified city several times, but his main place of residence was Pont-de-Briques château, located just a few kilometres outside Boulogne.

Visible changes 

The coastline changed dramatically between 1803 and 1805. The harbours at Wimereux and Ambleteuse were enlarged. The North Sea coasts became ‘La Côte de Fer’ in light of all the pieces of artillery positioned from Cap Gris-Nez to Etaples. The Camp of Boulogne was in two parts. There was the left camp located on the left bank of the Liane and the right camp on the cliffs facing England, in the Vallon de Terlincthun and La Tour d’Ordre plateau. 

A signposted trail

Starting from the Column of the Grande Armée, which was erected to the glory of Napoleon by the soldiers of the Grande Armée, the 14-kilometre signposted trail takes you on a tour of the remains of the Camp of Boulogne. 14 kilometres of exploring the most important places and buildings. 14 kilometres of having your mind blown. Apart from the built heritage, the trail also takes you through scenery which is worth seeing in itself. 

Unspoilt countryside

From the Column of the Grande Armée, you will cross the Vallée du Denacre. Pretty houses, 19th century manors made from Bainchtun stone, farms, lakes and rivers punctuate the route. The Vallée du Denacre is a real wildlife corridor and is home to many birds and mammals. Keep your ears and eyes open! 

Stunning views

After passing through Wimereux and its beautiful seafront, the path takes you to Pointe de la Crèche, with its fort and magnificent view over to the English coastline. The Legion of Honour Stele, gunpowder store and Calvaire des Marins are just some of the buildings which bear witness to what was played out here two centuries earlier. The view at the end of the walk along the French coastline (from Wimereux to Cap Gris-Nez) and of Boulogne port will leave you speechless.