Sunday History – In 1872 the construction of the Tréport-Mers-Les-Bains station marks the beginning of 150 years of tourism history

This year, the Tréport-Mers-les-Bains station celebrated its 150th anniversary. From bourgeois resorts at the end of the 19th century to paid vacations for workers, the seaside resort has seen all kinds of vacationers pass by. Take a look at the history of the railway which was at the center of the economic development of the sister cities.

It was the revolution of the 19th century: the arrival of the train disrupted the country’s economy as well as lifestyles. At that time of course, tourism was reserved for a very wealthy class, and we are still far from the mass tourism we know today on the French coasts. But it is already enough to change the coastal cities.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Mers-les-Bains was a farming village, and Le Tréport lived mainly from fishing. However, its geographical location and landscape are indeed attractive. “People began coming for vacation in the 1840s to Treport, then to Mers-les-Bains around the 1860s. Parisians really wanted to buy land at more attractive rates than the localsAnd the Mighty Pinna, a member of the Association of Owners, Residents and Carers of Mers-les-Bains (APRIM), explains. But the journey from the capital is done by stagecoach and is very long. Then comes the idea of ​​building a railway. “The first document I found on this subject is from 1966, a letter from the Deputy Governor‘, explains the former tour guide.

The station finally opened its doors for the first time in May 1872. It was the first very small section of about fifteen kilometers that was built: it connected the sister cities with the Longroy-Gamaches station. Thanks to this section, Parisians will finally be able to reach Mers-les-Bains by train. From the capital, they will be able to reach Amiens, then Gamaches, and finally use this completely new line to the coast. Then the whole trip takes about 5 hours.

Ten years later, the flight will take place instead of Abbeville, and it will be faster. “The Parisian bourgeoisie arrives by excursion trains at attractive prices. Vacationers come on weekends, and women stay on vacation when the husband goes back to work.”explains Brigitte Troquet, CEO of Treport-Mere Railroad Protection Commission.

For several decades, doctors have been touting the therapeutic benefits of bathing in the sea. And sister cities now have a major advantage in attracting Parisians, which can be read on the posters: “A trip from Paris in 3 hours and a half“.

from 1884, le Figaro Notes in its August 11th issue:While some resorts await tourists or swimmers, hotels in Treeport are overflowing, homes are lacking, and the need to expand the beach and build new buildings is more than ever.“A little over ten years after the train began operating, the paper is already talking about rising property prices in both cities.”Those who buy are dFeline, wealthy industrialists, or liberal professions such as architects, doctors, pharmacists, and notaries‘, defines Mighty Pina, fromassociation sOwners, residents and those interested in Marsa Les Bains.

Myers was a very small village, which exploded at the time. It will become a beautiful seaside resort“It gave birth to an entire vacation area, and it still exists today, with 600 villas,” adds Brigitte Troquet.It’s amazing how quickly all of this happens!

From year to year, the population is only increasing, changing the territory and its economy. “But this is also the case in the surrounding areas. In Mesnil Val, for example, beautiful houses appear at this time, and they can be reached by bus from the Mers-Le Tréport station, which is only a few kilometers away. We also build at the top of the slopes and a funicular is installed to get there.

There is also a place for children there. “Since the end of the 19th century, a school colony was built by the Seine department, and Parisian children were sent there to take advantage of sea baths and iodized air. Mighty Pena explains. “In the summer, the population triples, but there are also many people who now have second homes who come all year round for weekends for example.

In an early 20th century tour guide, the view from the cliffs is said to beOne of the most impressive reviews you can meetAnd this is at the foot we findA row of beautiful villas“and one”Newly built luxury casino“.

Trams make it easy to get to the EU for jungle excursions, you can go to the casino, the theater, take part in sea festivals or even enjoy the wonderful scenery. Many activities are made possible by the “pleasure trains” and their attractive prices.

On a postcard from the beginning of the century it is indicated that on August 14, 1904, 10,000 people arrived by train! it’s huge‘ says Brigitte Troquet.

But this meteoric rise would slow at the dawn of the Great War. “Since 1912, less land has been sold, there are fewer buyers and prices have started to fallMighty Pina explains.Then with the war, everything stopped.English soldiers are stationed there, the just-built hotel on the cliff has been captured and converted into a military hospital, a tank training camp is built, and Belgian refugees are welcomed into Mers-les-Bains.

After the war, the swimmers returned, but development nevertheless slowed. “It won’t go back to how it was before. Some have sold their homes, others keep coming, but the population is changing a bit, becoming very homely‘, specify.

However, the sister cities did not say their last word. The 1930s arrived, and with it the first paid holidays were introduced in 1936. At that time, almost 80% of the French had never seen the sea, and workers were finally able to spot it. “Trains are crowded, now the working classes have arrivedBrigitte Trouquet confirms. Houses were rented to working-class families in Ile-de-France, which enabled the rather poor families of Treport to live better. What I have heard, without at present finding anything to support it, is that the fishermen of Le Tréport rented houses in the summer and lived in cellars.“This is also when some of the villas are divided into apartments.

On August 7, 1938, Newspaper nickname : “By following the paid holidays: in Treport it is a crowd of kind and good natured people“The reporter describes the crowd of workers who came with their families to enjoy the holidays.”From village to village, you arrive at Le Tréport, which is perhaps more than any other beach for ordinary Parisians looking for a resort close to the capital. […] The first morning trains had already canceled a group of vacationers. Groups formed here and there in the whirlpool of the crowd, people got to know each other or recalled memories of the past year.. “

For two weeks the Faubourg de Paris, whose cheeky banter was hardly backed, a joke not wanting to be mean, rested on the beach.

Stephane Fouger in “Le Journal” on August 7, 1938

The line is so symbolic that CGT will choose to charter a private train there to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the paid holidays, in 1986. The Esplanade of Paid Holidays will also open in Tréport.

The madness continued for decades. But since the 1970s, the French have had four weeks of paid vacation, double what they had in 1936, and the Normandy and Picardy coasts have lost some of their appeal in favor of the Mediterranean. “Vacations are becoming very popular, as has the car. From there, vacationers descend on the south of France via the A7. Normandy wasn’t really famous for the sun, so people left itBrigitte Trouquet analyzed.

Little by little, decrease the frequency of the station. At the end of the eighties, part of the line was threatened with closure. On this occasion, the Commission for the Protection of Railways was established in Treport-Mere. “The train was never profitable. And with a train every three hours, it’s not the locals who use this lineBrigitte Trouquet explains. It’s the vacationers who make that work, so when they leave the area, there are fewer and fewer people on the trains.“The streak will finally be preserved thanks to the mobilization of the Association of Local Elected Officials.

In 2018, the Le Tréport-Beauvais and Le Tréport-Abbeville lines were closed for major renovation and development work. The first reopened in 2020, but for the second time, we don’t know the timeline. At a time when soft mobility is a major challenge, there is an urgent necessity. “Today, it takes as long as at the beginning of the twentieth century to do Paris-le-Treport, it is not natural. We struggle for better schedules and better service, not just for tourism, but for the entire valley, for the locals.

According to Brigitte Troquet, this issue of mobility is contributing to the departure of some residents. Indeed, since the beginning of the eighties, Le Tréport and Mers-les-Bains between them have lost more than 3,000 inhabitants. “For ten years, 10% of the population left. Young people need transportation to go to school. And then we don’t have doctors, you often have to go to Abbeville or Amiens for treatment, especially with specialists. Between the price of gasoline and an aging population, we are getting less and less money, and the train will be very important.

Not to mention the desire of some Ile-de-France residents, since the pandemic, to obtain housing in one of the sister cities. “They have bought accommodation to come and work from home, but will need to go back and forth to Paris to work.Brigitte Trouquet adds.

Will the train keep pace with changing lifestyles while still being attractive to tourists? This is what the Commission for the Protection of Railroads hopes. The territory’s economy still depends on it today. In Mers-les-Bains, according to INSEE, nearly 47% of residences are second homes, and nearly three-quarters of businesses are in the trade, transportation, and service sectors.

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