Please find driving directions below the main text
Bank account of “National Trust Belgium” (NTAB)
BE17 0016 2443 2021
La Coupole (the dome), located at 5km from St Omer (Nord-Pas-de-Calais), is one of the most impressive remnants of World War II. The huge bunker was built by the Todt Organisation in 1943-1944 as a launch installation for V2 missiles against London. It is a symbolic place reminding us of the Nazi oppression, by its overwhelming mass, the nature of its underground facilities and the suffering of the slave labourers that built it.
Heavily bombed by the Allies, La Coupole was abandoned during the summer of 1944 after the Normandy landings. Since 1997 this place has been transformed into a History and Memory Centre and a WWII museum.
For lunch we then move to the centre of Saint Omer, a town that is twinned with Deal in Kent. The rich historic and cultural heritage of Saint Omer will certainly impress us.
The town takes its name from Audomar, one of the monks whom King Dagobert of the Gauls, in the mid-7th century, ordered to convert the region to Christianity. The monks also began to drain and clean the wetlands around St. Omer. The Audomarais are today the only cultivated marshes in France.
Our guided tour will take us to the main square “ Place Foch”, which is dominated by the splendid town hall, which also boasts an Italian style theatre. The streets surrounding Place Foch have been the home of shops and commercial activities since the Middle Ages.
But the highlight of our visit will be the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral. Construction started in the 13th century but it took 3 centuries to complete the building. The cathedral is by many considered to be the most beautiful and intact vestige of gothic architecture north of Paris and boasts a famous Rubens painting (Christ being removed from the Cross). It also houses an incredible astronomical clock that dates from 1558 and is considered one of the oldest clocks in France. The public park around the cathedral includes a pretty English style garden.
Lunch at 13:00h in Saint Omer (5km /10’ min. drive from La Coupole) in restaurant “ Le Cygne” Rue Caventou, 8. Three courses including 1 glass of wine/beer/soft drink/water plus coffee or tea. Vegetarians please notify at registration.
If you have registered and paid for this event, let the organiser know, preferably by e-mail; he will arrange for more detailed instructions/guidelines in the week preceding the outing.
By car : from Brussels (180 km/2.30 hrs)
Take motorway E429 to Lille then continue on A25 to Dunkerque. Exit Hazebrouck/Saint Omer.
There is ample parking space in front of the museum.
Members/participants are kindly asked to consider car-pooling or communicate their willingness to give a lift to others who have no car.