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

Last modified: 2021-06-22 by ivan sache
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Flag of Criel-sur-Mer - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 26 June 2020

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Presentation of Criel-sur-Mer

The municipality of Criel-sur-Mer (2,655 inhabitants in 2018; 2,112 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km south of Eu and Le Tréport. This part of the Normand coast is nicknamed Albaster Coast because of its chalky cliffs. The village was built in the valley of river Yères, 2 km back from the Channel.

Remains of a Celtic settlement have been found in Criel. In 1846, the parish priest Cochet excavated remains of a Gallo-Roman village. In the 13th century, Criel had 1,300 inhabitants.
During the Hundred Years' War, the English seized all the castles in the County of Eu, Criel included. 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 Town Hall.

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 standing in Mesnil-Val.
The two beaches are dominated by chalk cliffs considered as the highest in Europe (106 m asl in 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 caused 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 of money shortage. Today, the sea attacks the cliff even at low tide.
Eleven houses located on the edge of the cliffs (10 in Criel and one 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. 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. Sponsored by a European program, the research was performed in ten sites on the English and French coasts of the Channel.

Ivan Sache, 6 March 2005

Flag of Criel-sur-Mer

The flag of Criel-sur-Mer (photo, photo) is white with the municipal emblem, which features the skyline of Criel-Plage. The baseline reaches "Beaches and Valley of Yères".

Olivier Touzeau, 26 June 2020