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Étaples or Étaples-sur-Mer is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It is a fishing and leisure port on the Canche river.HistoryÉtaples takes its name from having been a medieval staple port (stapal in Old Dutch), from which word the Old French word Estaples derives. As a port it was part of the administrative and economic complex centred on Montreuil after access from the sea to that town was restricted by silting.The site of modern Étaples lies on the ridge of dunes which once lay to seaward of a marsh formed off-shore from the chalk plateau of Artois. From the Canche northwards, the dunes tend to extend inland, all the way to the old chalk cliff. It lay just outside the southern edge of the mediaeval Boulonnais and some eighteen kilometres (8km) south of the geological region of that name.The dunes were established as the sea level rose during the Quaternary and show signs of habitation during the Palaeolithic. They had therefore stabilized at something like their present form by 2000 BC. The dunes to the north-west of the town have revealed Iron Age, Gaulish material.Étaples was one of a number of sites formerly identified as Quentovicus from which, as from Boulogne-sur-Mer, Roman ships prepared for the passage to Britannia. However, excavations coordinated by Dr David Hill of Manchester University between 1984 and 1991 uncovered the remains of a substantial settlement at Visemarest near the hamlet of La Calotterie. This site is located to the east of Étaples, further up the Canche valley, near the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer. This is now accepted as the site of Quentovic, although the finds from the excavations are located in the Musée de Quentovic in Étaples (the museum predating the discovery of the site itself by a number of years). Etaples is in Pas-de-Calais. Our France visit planner allows you to plan your trip to Etaples and a wealth of other destinations big and small.
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