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Criel-sur-Mer (Municipality, Seine-Maritime, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: seine-maritime | criel-sur-mer | cliff (white) |
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[Flag of Criel-sur-Mer]

Municipal flag of Criel-sur-Mer - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 6 March 2005

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Presentation of Criel-sur-Mer

The municipality of Criel-sur-Mer is located some 10 km south of Eu and Le Tréport. This part of the Normand coast is nicknamed Côte d'Albâtre because of its chalky cliffs. The village was built in the valley of the river Yères, 2 km back from the Channel.

Remains of a Celtic settlement have been found in Criel. In 1846, Abbot Cochet excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman village. In the XIIIth century, Criel had 1,300 inhabitants.
During the Hundred Years' War, the English seized all the castles in the County of Eu, including the castle of Criel. The only remains of the castle are the base of its thick walls, built in flintstone.
In 1685, Anne-Marie Louise d'Orléans, aka la Grande Mademoiselle, Louis XIV's sister, purchased the castle of Briançon and transformed it in an orphanage for the seamen's children. The orphanage was closed in 1972 and the castle houses now the city hall of Criel.

A railway linking Dieppe and Eu was opened in 1872. The station of Criel-Touffreville was built near the viaduct over the Yères. The main purpose of the railway was the transportation of shingles collected on the beaches and exported all over the world. At the same time, the beaches of Criel-Plage and Mesnil-Val were created. Casinos, hotels and beautiful houses were built in the specific Normand style of that period. Most of them were destroyed during the Second World War, except a few houses still visible in Mesnil-Val.
The two beaches are dominated by chalk cliffs considered as the highest in Europe (106 m asl in the Mont Joli Bois).

After the Second World War, several smaller houses were built for summer vacation on the plateau of Yauville, near the edge of the cliffs.
On 31 December 1997, the garden located behind a private house in Criel collapsed. In March 1998, some 800 cubic meters of cliff collapsed in Mesnil-Val. Another collapsing took place in Criel on 12 February 2000. The erosion of the cliff seems to have been cause by the heightening of the main breakwater of the beach of Criel-Plage. The breakwater was expected to keep the shingles on the beach. Accordingly, a rip-rap was planned to protect the base of the cliff from water; this was cancelled because money lacked. Today, the sea attacks the cliff even at low tide.
Eleven houses located on the edge of the cliffs (10 in Criel and the 11th in Mesnil-Val) were abandoned and some of them were squatted. In 2003, the owners of the houses were expropriated by the state. The houses should have been demolished before the end of 2004 (I don't know if this was done). The house located in Mesnil-Val was used as a research laboratory by scientists from the BRGM (Bureau de Recherche Géologique et Minière) studying the erosion of cliffs. The research was sponsored by a European program and involved ten sites on the English and French coasts of the Channel.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 6 March 2005

Municipal flag of Criel-sur-Mer

The flag of Criel-sur-Mer is white with the municipal logotype. The logotype shows the landscape of Criel-Plage.

Arnaud Leroy, 6 March 2005