- Cap Gris Nez
Cap Gris Nez ("Grey Nose Cape" in English) is a cape on the
Côte d'Opalein the Pas-de-Calais"département" in northern France.
It is between
Wissant(Whitesand - originally Witzand) and Audresselles(originally Auderzele), in the commune of Audinghen(Odingham).
The cliffs of the Cap are the closest point of France to
England- 34 km (20 miles) from their English counterparts at Dover. Smothered in sea pinks and thrift, the cliffs are a perfect vantage point to see hundreds of ships from oil tankers to little fishing trawlers plying the waters below. On a clear day, the emblematic white cliffs of Doveron the English shore can be seen.
The proximity of the cape to England led to the frequent destruction of the nearby village of Audinghen in wars between England and France. On the top of the cliff are the ruins of an English fortress, built by Henry VIII at the beginning of the 16th century.
Napoleonstopped at the cape on 1 July 1803whilst making an inspection of the coast around Boulogne-sur-Merand of his invasion troops. He then envisioned setting up a cross-Channel optical telegraph, with a semaphore on the cape. The first semaphore of this line was installed on the cape in 1805, without waiting for the planned French invasion of England. On July 18 1805, a memorable naval battle took place off the cape. A British flotilla with strong numerical superiority pursued Dutch ships that were following the coast and trying to get back into harbour of Ambleteuse. Expecting an attack of this type, Napoleon had stationed a force of 300 guns on the cape, and a barrage from this force obliged the British vessels to retreat.
corvettecaptain Ducuing and his men died on May 25 1940while defending the semaphore, and a commemorative stela was later placed on the cape to commemorate this sacrifice. During the Second World War, the Germans built a blockhouseinside the Tudor ruins and the place was liberated by the Canadians in September 1944.
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