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Ambleteuse fort slack.JPG

Vauban's Fort Mahon and the Slack River in Ambleteuse
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Location within Hauts-de-France region
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Coordinates: 50°48′37″N1°36′26″E / 50.8103°N 1.6072°E / 50.8103; 1.6072 Coordinates: 50°48′37″N1°36′26″E / 50.8103°N 1.6072°E / 50.8103; 1.6072
Country France
Region Hauts-de-France
Department Pas-de-Calais
Arrondissement Boulogne-sur-Mer
Canton Desvres
Intercommunality CC Terre des Deux Caps
  Mayor (2014-2020) Arnaud Lelièvre du Brœuille
Area1 5.45 km2 (2.10 sq mi)
Population (2014)2 1,845
  Density 340/km2 (880/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 62025 /62164
Elevation 0–77 m (0–253 ft)
(avg. 25 m or 82 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.


2 Population without double counting : residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Ambleteuse (Dutch: Ambeltuwe) is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France.

The commune is a level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are analogous to civil townships and incorporated municipalities in the United States and Canada, Gemeinden in Germany or comuni in Italy. The United Kingdom has no exact equivalent, as communes resemble districts in urban areas, but are closer to parishes in rural areas where districts are much larger. Communes are based on historical geographic communities or villages and are vested with significant powers to manage the populations and land of the geographic area covered. The communes are the fourth-level administrative divisions of France.

Pas-de-Calais Department of France

Pas-de-Calais is a department in northern France named after the French designation of the Strait of Dover, which it borders.

In the administrative divisions of France, the department is one of the three levels of government below the national level, between the administrative regions and the commune. Ninety-six departments are in metropolitan France, and five are overseas departments, which are also classified as regions. Departments are further subdivided into 334 arrondissements, themselves divided into cantons; the last two have no autonomy, and are used for the organisation of police, fire departments, and sometimes, elections.


Ambleteuse began as a hamlet of a few huts in the middle of the dunes, from which the derisory name of “carcahuttes" (huts made from old-boat hulls) was once given to its inhabitants by their neighbors at Audresselles. The reason for its existence relates to the temporary needs of various invaders for conquering people from either side of the English Channel. Ambleteuse is one of the candidates for the harbour that Julius Caesar used to set out from for his invasion of Britain in 54 BC, though Boulogne-sur-Mer is the more usually accepted site.

Audresselles Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Audresselles is a commune south of Cape Gris Nez in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France.

English Channel Arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France

The English Channel, also called simply the Channel, is the body of water that separates Southern England from northern France and links the southern part of the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the busiest shipping area in the world.

Julius Caesar 1st-century BC Roman politician and general

Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, and historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He is also known as an author of Latin prose.

The origin of the name of Ambleteuse remains uncertain. Some scholars claim it has Celtic origins (Ambleat), but that does not exclude the etymology "Hamel Thuys", a name given by the Saxons in the 6th century, as they too used the harbour when they emigrated to Great Britain.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

Henry VIII of England had two forts built here in 1546 to maintain a show of power towards the French kings. Ambleteuse was chosen to provide an alternative harbour, and was called the 'Newhaven.' The other fort at nearby Cap Gris Nez, was called the 'Blackness.' [1] The forces of Henry II of France eventually conquered them in 1549. Henry, having killed all the English prisoners, then found a stock of coal in the fort. This was the first time that its use was noted on the continent.

Henry VIII of England 16th-century King of England

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

Henry II of France 1519–1559, monarch of the House of Valois

Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559. The second son of Francis I, he became Dauphin of France upon the death of his elder brother Francis III, Duke of Brittany, in 1536. Henry was the tenth king from the House of Valois, the third from the Valois-Orléans branch, and the second from the Valois-Orléans-Angoulême branch.

Coal A combustible sedimentary rock composed primarily of carbon

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock, formed as rock strata called coal seams. Coal is mostly carbon with variable amounts of other elements; chiefly hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. Coal is formed if dead plant matter decays into peat and over millions of years the heat and pressure of deep burial converts the peat into coal.

At the end of the 17th century, Sébastien Vauban constructed Fort Mahon at the mouth of the river Slack. This is the only coastal fort from that era which has been preserved in France, thanks to restoration promoted by Dr. Méraut and the geologist Monsieur Destombe, who together created the "Association of the friends of Ambleteuse Fort" in 1960.

Fort Mahon Fort located on the coast of the Strait of Dover, northern France

Fort Mahon is a sea fort by the commune of Ambleteuse in the Pas-de-Calais, northern France. The fort was built at the end of the 17th century by the military architect Vauban on the orders of Louis XIV to defend the port in the estuary of the Slack. It was designated a Monument historique in the 1960s.

Napoleon modified the estuary of the Slack to create a harbour, from where he planned to invade England in (1805). The foundations of the harbour are still visible today.

At the end of the 19th century, Ambleteuse became a popular place for holidays for people from Lille and Paris. The middle classes had become interested in sea-bathing and hunting, shooting and fishing. Oyster-beds were built in the bay, to complete the ambiance of bourgeois life.

During World War II, the area fell under German military occupation. There was a concentration camp built in the environs. Between 1941 and 1943, the German engineers of Organisation Todt installed bunkers for artillery at the fort as part of work on the Atlantic Wall. In the bay of the river they also built sluices to flood the valley to prevent an Allied landing. After the Normandy Landings, Ambleteuse became the endpoint for the second "Operation Pluto" pipeline, fuelling the Allies from supplies in Kent.


Historical population


The Slack River estuary La slack.JPG
The Slack River estuary


See also

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  1. Colvin, Howard, ed., The History of the King's Works, vol. 3 part 1, (1975), 388-389.