Berck-sur-Mer and the sea are deeply linked, and the Notre-Dame-des-Sables and Saint Jean-Baptiste churches are perfect examples of that fact. Carpenters of the navy built the nave of Notre-Dame-des-Sables while the bell tower of Saint-Jean Baptiste was once the city’s lighthouse.
The church of Berck Ville was for a long time the place of worship of the local navy, while the church of Berck Plage was the one of the sick and the swimmers.
Notre Dame des Sables Church
Notre-Dame-des-Sables is more than a century old.
In the middle of the last century, Berck-plage was a lifeless desert of shifting dunes.
Just 2 km away lay a settlement of 2,000 inhabitants, the distant descendants of fishermen whose coastal village had, over the centuries, been ineluctably "pushed inland" by a slow process of alluvial filling and silting.
A committee founded in 1882 with the support of Abbé Coppin, the parish priest of Berck, was charged with the task of building a place of worship and establishing a market. Proceeds from subscriptions, bequests and concerts provided sufficient funds to purchase a plot of land, chosen as close to the city centre as possible, to build the church.
Then called the "Chapelle du Secours", this branch of the parish church of St Jean Baptiste was blessed under the name of Notre Dame des Sables and opened for worship on August 26th 1886. Its pitch-pine frame and nave in the shape of an inverted ship's hull are of a rare elegance and make this building unique.
Saint Jean-Baptiste Church
The Saint Jean-Baptist church was built on the site of the old watchtower (le foïer), the ancestor of the lighthouse. The bell tower from which the fire was carried dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. Take note that there are no high windows, but loopholes.
During your visit, you will appreciate the simple nave frame, the ribbed vault, and the 16 curious arches. The choir and the chapel date from the 16th century.
Discover the histoty of Berck-sur-Mer in our booklet "Histoire et patrimoine" ("History and Heritage")
History of the resort