The village of Eperlecques is one of the largest in the Audomaroise region. Located between Audomarois and Calaisis, Eperlecques extends over 2550 hectares! This area includes 750 hectares of forest and 230 hectares of marshes, including old peat bogs recognized for their environmental interest.
The village of Eperlecques also has the particularity of being divided into eight hamlets. Its 3700 inhabitants are divided between: the Mont, the Ganspette, the Contredique, Hellebrouck, the pauverstraete, the Sart, Bleue Maison and Loosthouck.
In addition to the Audomarois marshes where it is good to navigate, Eperlecques is particularly popular with visitors for its forest and its hiking trails, its church and the famous blockhouse of Eperlecques (former base V1 and V2).
The blockhouse of Eperlecques
The Eperlecques forest is home to a site from the Second World War: a blockhouse covered with a 7m-thick slab, which represents 130000 tons of concrete! This gigantic structure was built by Nazi Germany, which employed prisoners from concentration camps and French people in the Compulsory Labor Service (STO) for this purpose.
This bunker, also locally called "Watten's bunker", was formerly codenamed Kraftwerk Nord West. Built between 1943 and 1944, it was initially intended as a launch base for V2 missiles. The aim was to bombard London and the south of England, at a rate of 36 shots per day. The Eperlecques blockhouse was therefore designed to house 100 missiles at a time. It would also have hosted a liquid oxygen plant and a small station allowing the delivery of missiles from Germany.
Fortunately, this disastrous plan could not be accomplished thanks to the incessant bombardment of the allies within the framework of Operation Crossbow.
The blockhouse has been listed as a historic monument since 1986. It now houses a museum dedicated to the V1 and V2 missiles. It thus echoes another Audomarois museum dedicated to the occupation and the 1939-1945 war: the Dome of Helfaut, located a few kilometers away.
The church of Eperlecques
The church of Eperlecques, dedicated to Saint-Léger, dates from the XNUMXth century. Its high and wide white stone tower, dating from the XNUMXth century, dominates the village. Gothic in style, it contains some beautiful pieces of sacred furniture, including the organ case from the old church of Lederzeele.
Near the church and the school of Eperlecques, a house bears a plaque recalling that Winston Churchill would have spent two nights there during the Great War, in 1914 and 1917. It was once a former café.
The forest of Eperlecques
The forest of Eperlecques, as its name suggests, extends largely over the town of Eperlecques. More precisely on an area of 750 hectares. Another hundred hectares of forest is located in the neighboring town, Ruminghem.
Mostly private, this forest located on the edge of the Audomarois marsh has 70 hectares acquired by the department. A path crossing it also allows everyone to reach the town of Watten. It is on this path that the Notre-Dame des Trois Cayelles chapel is located.
Composed mainly of oaks, hornbeams and beeches, the forest still bears the scars of the Allied bombings targeting the Blockhaus of Eperlecques during the Second World War.
The chapel circuit
Eperlecques presents a remarkable religious heritage testifying to past devotional practices. A time when we did not hesitate to erect chapels in gratitude for a cure, a found child, or for any other good news associated with a miracle. Here is the list of chapels that can be found on the circuit of the "route des chapels". These are the chapels:
- Saint-Pierre (Saint-Pierre street)
- From the Virgin (rue du Pavillon)
- Our Lady of Lourdes (rue de l'Eglise)
- Our Lady of Miracles (rue du Mont)
- Du Gandspette dedicated to “Our Lady of the Snows” (rue du Gandspette).
Away from the circuit of the chapels, hikers and pilgrims do not pass through Eperlecques without stopping at the chapel known as "Les Trois Cayelles". The latter, located in the heart of the forest of Eperlecques, is still the object of pilgrimage on August 15.
Around the village
Eperlecques is located just north-west of Audomarois. The village is bordered by two communes of the marsh: Watten and Houlle. Other villages, not integrated into the marsh, border this commune: Muncq-Nieurlet, Ruminghem, Holque, Bayenghem-lès-Éperlecques, Mentque-Nortbécourt.
Camping in Eperlecques
The village has three campsites:
- The Château du Gandspette (133 Rue du Ganspette). Pitches for tents and mobile homes on an 11 ha castle estate, 2 swimming pools, gym and restaurant.
- Ranch Car Estate (Rue du Ranch).
- Campsite Le Mont (Route d'Audruicq).