France’s ‘Most British Airport’ in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is to rename its airport in honour of Queen Elizabeth.

The north France chic resort of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is one of France’s most British of cities, so what could be more appropriate than to rename its airport after the late Queen Elizabeth II who was so popular in France?

Black and white photo official portrait of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten at their wedding on steops looking at each other with long train of her dress cascading down steps
Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten at their wedding. Public domain

First Visits to France

France has always loved the Queen and the feeling was mutual. In 1948, Princess Elizabeth with her new husband, Philip Mountbatten, visited Paris. It was her first official visit abroad and was a rip-roaring success.

She repeated the visit in 1957, officially as Queen. It started with a state dinner in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles and concluded with an official dinner in the Louvre. Again it was a highly popular visit though the French were doubtless rather nonplussed by the memo the Élysées Palace received from Buckingham Palace:

“Her Majesty has a small appetite but will eat just about anything, except caviar, oysters and shellfish in general. She prefers simple food.”

Today’s love affair

The love affair between France and the Queen has continued to today. After her death France flew flags at half-mast, and all the leading newspapers, whether right- or left-leaning, carried front pages and tributes. The most impressive speech came from Emmanual Macron after her death:

“The Queen of 16 kingdoms loved France, which loved her back. This evening, the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth are mourning their Queen. The people of France join them in their grief.”

Le Touquet’s Fashionable Past

Old sepia photo of Le Touquet Paris-Plage withpeople walking along road and huge houses and hotels in background
Le Touquet Paris-Plage © AntonyB/CC-BY-SA 4.0

In 1930 a small airstrip was built for British visitors who included the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII though not for long), Noël Coward, P.G. Wodehouse and Ian Fleming. They came on the daily flight from the UK to play golf and polo during the day and gamble heavily at night.

By 1950 the expanded airport was the third largest in France in terms of passenger numbers.

Today’s Tribute from Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

The airport said on announcing the news:

 “In order to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II and in memory of her visit to Le Touquet with her uncle Edward VIII, during which she practised both horse riding and sand yachting, the town of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage wishes to name its airport after her, who, for 70 years, served her country with commitment, respect and constancy.” 

The name has not yet been revealed (probably not even decided upon).

Le Touquet continues to be popular with both nations. President Macron’s wife, Brigitte, inherited a house there, so if you’re visiting you might spot them. They often spend weekends and holidays in the town.

If you want to know more about Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and other north France resorts, read about them here: Seaside Resorts in Northern France

Le Touquet-Paris-Plage Tourist Office

Guide to Calais, one of my favourite French cities (there’s a lot to see!)

How to get to France by ferry

Le touquet with gardens and church and village green with people in front
Le Touquet Paris-Plage ©Frederik Astier

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