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Wissant

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Coordinates: 50°53′10″N 1°39′49″E / 50.8861°N 1.6636°E / 50.8861; 1.6636Coordinates: 50°53′10″N 1°39′49″E / 50.8861°N 1.6636°E / 50.8861; 1.6636{{#coordinates:50.8861|1.6636|type:city(1064)_region:FR|||||| |primary |name= }}</td></tr><tr class="mergedtoprow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Country</th><td> France</td></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Region</th><td> Nord-Pas-de-Calais</td></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Department</th><td> Pas-de-Calais</td></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Arrondissement</th><td> Boulogne-sur-Mer</td></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Canton</th><td> Marquise</td></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Intercommunality</th><td> Communauté de communes de la Terre des Deux Caps</td></tr><tr class="mergedtoprow"><th colspan="2" style="text-align:center;text-align:left">Government</th></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left"> • Mayor (2008–2014) </th><td> Bernard Bracq</td></tr><tr class="mergedtoprow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Area1</th><td> 12.79 km2 (4.94 sq mi)</td></tr><tr class="mergedtoprow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Population (2006)2</th><td> 1,064</td></tr><tr class="mergedrow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left"> • Density</th><td> 83/km2 (220/sq mi)</td></tr><tr class="mergedtoprow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">INSEE/Postal code</th><td class="adr"> 62899 / 62179</td></tr><tr class="mergedtoprow"><th scope="row" style="text-align:left">Elevation</th><td> Script error: No such module "convert".
(avg. Script error: No such module "convert".)</td></tr><tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align:center;text-align:left; font-size:smaller"> 1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.</td></tr></table>

Wissant (from Dutch "wit zand"; equal to English "white sand"[1]) is a seaside commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.

Geography

Wissant is a fishing port and farming village located approximately Script error: No such module "convert". north of Boulogne, Script error: No such module "convert". west-southwest of Calais, Script error: No such module "convert". southeast of Dover, Script error: No such module "convert". west-southwest of Dunkirk, Script error: No such module "convert". from the Belgian coast, Script error: No such module "convert". north of Le Havre, Script error: No such module "convert". northeast of Brest, and Script error: No such module "convert". north of Paris, at the junction of the D238 and the D940 roads, on the English Channel coast.

History

Located at the eastern end of a lagoon formed by a storm-breach of the coastal dunes, probably in the mid-10th century,[2] Wissant has been a fishing village for a millennium: along with Audresselles it is the last fishing village in France to use a traditional method of fishing using a wooden boat called a flobart and was in the Middle Ages a major port for embarkation for England:[3] In a mid-11th century Life of St. Vulganius, Wissant was specified, probably anachronistically, as the natural disembarkation point for the early eighth-century Celtic saint in his evangelizing travels.[4] Wissant was the embarkation port of Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester, for his ill-fated invasion of England in 1173, with an army of 3000 Flemings.[5] Henry III of England of England was stranded at Wissant for lack of cash.[6] According to Matthew Paris (mid-13th century) its naucleri habitually interfered with English fishing fleets.

From the 7th to the 14th century, the local language was the West Franconian dialect called Old Dutch and the village was called Witsant and reckoned part of Flanders.

File:PSwissant-6143.jpg
The sea encroaches upon a World War II concrete blockhouse at Wissant

Shifting coastal sands silted up the harbor, at the same time that Calais was rising in importance as a port towards the end of the 12th century. Grierson 1941:81. At the end of the 19th century, the coastal dunes of Wissant began to be covered with seaside villas. During the 20th century, an entrepreneur, Mr. Létendart from Calais, extracted sand and gravel from the dunes to the west of Wissant, in the bed of the ancient lagoon. The huge excavations now form lakes and a nature reserve. At the time of the exploitation of these gravel pits, the bones of a complete mammoth with its tusks were discovered by four workers.

In July 1909 Wissant stood at the centre of world-wide focus. Three contenders for the £1,000 Northcliffe prize offered by the Daily Mail for the first heavier-than-air craft to cross the English channel were camped along the coast between Calais and Wissant. The Franco-Russian Comte Charles de Lambert who had two Wright Flyers (Nos. 2 and 18) and was camped at Wissant.[7]. While practising over the dunes he crashed heavily and cancelled his plans. Louis Blériot won the prize and world-wide fame, from his camp at Calais.[8]

Today, because of the frequent and usually favourable winds and the proximity of the TGV railway station and the Eurostar trains to Frethun, Parisians call Wissant the "Mecca” of surfing.

Notable people

Jacques and Pierre de Wissant were, with four other, voluntarily hostages in the siege of Calais during the 100-years war, and on 4 August 1347 they went barefooted and dressed only with shirts and ropes around their necks to the English king who had intended to leave them to die as a retaliation for his losses in that siege. Only by Queen Philippa of Hainaut's request the six men were saved. Auguste Rodin used this subject for his famous sculpture The Burghers of Calais (1889).

The French President Charles de Gaulle had a small summer house in Wissant that still exists today.

Population

The inhabitants are called Wissantais.

Wissant
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</small>
Historical population of Wissant
Year1962196819751982199019992006
Population1033105811401247130311861064
From the year 1962 on: No double counting—residents of multiple communes (e.g. students and military personnel) are counted only once.

Places of interest

See also

References

  1. ^ Kristien Hemmerechts' novel Wit Zand (Amsterdam, 1993) is set in Wissant.
  2. ^ Philip Grierson, "The Relations between England and Flanders before the Norman Conquest" Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fourth Series, 23 [1941:71-112] p. 80f) notes that "Wissant was situated in the parish of Sombres, and in the Itinerary of Archbishop Sigeric (990) the landing-place was still known by the name of the parent village (Sumeran) and not by that of the recently formed harbour; Wissant itself does not appear by name in a contemporary document till the second half of the eleventh century."
  3. ^ For two centuries, it was under English rule, as was all of the county of Calais; it has formerly been a candidate rivalling Boulogne for Portus Itius, used by Caesar for his campaign in Britannia.
  4. ^ The saint appulit ad portum Witsant appelatum: qui videlicet locus ex albentis sabuli interpretatione tale sortitur vocabulum (quoted in Grierson 1941:80).
  5. ^ In the 1173-1174 War; the contemporary source, Ralph de Diceto specifies Wissant.
  6. ^ Close rolls of the Reign of henry III, 1259-1261 (HMSO, 1934), noted in review by Eileen Power in 'The Economic History Review 5.2 (April 1935:134).
  7. ^ Flight Magazine, July 24, 1909 p.442
  8. ^ Elliot, Brian A. Blériot, Herald of an Age, pp.109-37
  9. ^ Ministère de la Culture (Bases de données)

External links

File:Panorama Wissant.jpg
The bay at Wissant