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Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais): the National Center for the Sea, Nausicaa, turns 25

Since its opening on May 18, 1991, Nausicaa, National Center of the Sea, is much more than a simple aquarium. In 25 years, it welcomed over 15 million visitors. Located between London, Paris, and Brussels, the National Center of the Sea has become an unmissable touristic site in France and Europe. A unique center for the discovery of the marine world, NAUSICAA is fun, educational, and scientific, focused primarily on the relationship between Man and Sea. For the celebration of its quarter century, we interviewed the Director of Nausicaa, Philippe Valette to know more about this center and any novelties to look forward too.

Rédigé par Saliha Hadj-Djilani translated by Joséphine Foucher le Lundi 29 Février 2016

Nausicaa Center (Photo:A.Rosenfeld)
Nausicaa Center (Photo:A.Rosenfeld) During its creation, was it believed that Nausicaa would have such longevity?

P.V.: “Yes, because major investments were put into it for it to last. The real difficulty is guaranteeing long-term success. On our end, ours is most likely due to our renewal and event policy, and to the fact that we want to give meaning to what we do.” What was the objective of creating Nausicaa?

P.V.: “Nausicaa was created with a two-fold goal: grow public awareness on better management of oceans in the most attractive way possible, and be a vehicle for development through the profits made. Remember that TNS SOFRES measured those profits at more than 50 euros spent per visitor in the local economy, outside expenses at Nausicaa.” What type of audience to you attract?

P.V.: “All types, lots of families with 70% of individuals and 30% groups. They usually express being “Very satisfied” (4,5 /5 grade on Tripadvisor) after a visit, and often change their opinion on the marine world thanks to this wonderment. The surveys we conduct amongst our audience show that more than 60% want to act to protect oceans after the visit.” Why did you choose to hold an exhibit on the tropical forrest for your 25 year anniversary?

P.V.: “Biodiversity is made up of relationships between species, which guarantees the solidity of wildlife. Land and sea are intertwined in our planet earth. Furthermore, the link between the sea and our Amazonian water hole at the visit’s exit was less obvious since we had replaced the exhibit with “the house of gestures.” We now think that this association has been reestablished, while offering our visitors 12 additional terrariums, that house very spectacular animals.” Today, what is the number one mission of Nausicaa?

P.V.: “Our mission stays the same: bring awareness that will change behaviors in order to better benefit from the services that the sea has to offer mankind. This is why we must succeed in living on a daily basis without tearing into the capital of nature. Sometimes we are quite far from that, unfortunately!” Do you receive lots of foreign visitors?

P.V.: “We have around 45% of foreigners including 20% British and 20% Belgians. Finally, it is important to remind that the entire exhibit is in both French/English.

Practical Information


Rates : €19 over 12 years old, €12.50 from 3 to 12, reduced rates from €10.60 to €17.50.

Getting to Nausicaa?

It is possible reach Boulogne-sur-Mer by car, train, or boat.
NAUSICAA is conveniently located on the Nord-Pas-de-Calais coast, very close to Belgium and England, and only 2:30 hours from Paris.

From Paris: 250km
Drive toward CERGY PONTOISE on the peripheric (A89) then the A16, direction AMIENS; exit 32 (Boulogne-Nord - Nausicaa). Then follow the signs indicating Nausicaa.
From Brussels: 220km
E40, E17, A 25, via GAND and DUNKERQUE, then A16 until BOULOGNE-SUR-MER; exit 32 (Boulogne-Nord - Nausicaa). Then follow the signs indicating Nausicaa
From London:160km
M20 then ferry or tunnel

Departure from PARIS - Gare du Nord or from LILLE
Get off at the Boulogne-Ville station (information at the SNCF).
Eurostar or TGV coming from LONDRES or PARIS
Stop at the CALAIS-FRETHUN station (20km from Nausicaa.) Service to Boulogne-sur-Mer : please contact SNCF information center.
Stop tat the LILLE EUROPE station. Then TER (Train Express Régional) between LILLE EUROPE or LILLE FLANDRES (depending on departure time) and CALAIS FRETHUN (20 km from NAUSICAÄ).
From the train station to Nausicaa
Walking (25mn) or bus (use any of the lines A/C/D/E/F/H direction "Place de France”. Then take line F toward "Trésorerie", stop at Nausicaa).

Located 200 meters from the city center and close to Nausicaa, the recreational harbor makes boats available to visitors. The boat goers can then reach Nausicaa by walking along the Gambetta platform.

Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais): le Centre national de la Mer Nausicaa fête ses 25 ans

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