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Sea Baths

 

The first swimmer officially recognised in France was the King Henry III, who is supposed to have come to Dieppe in 1578 on the advice of his doctor.
bains de mer 

On the fall of the Empire in 1815 the pirates disappeared but the cross channel link favoured an influx of the English. Some of the society ladies came to Dieppe for their baths. Amongst the pioneers was Queen Hortense of Beauharnais (1783-1837) with her children. The future Napoleon III remembered her baths in Dieppe. The 1st “bath house” of France was installed on the beach in 1822.

But the fashion of baths was truly launched by Marie-Caroline, the Duchess of Berry who visited Dieppe on various occasions between 1824 and 1829. In August 1824 she was welcomed by 21 canon shots fired from the castle. Ever since she took to bathing in the sea and “launched” the beach of Dieppe.

 

In her footsteps, the rich Parisians took the first railway links and invested in the 2km long beach of Dieppe between the port and the cliffs. A large number of English people came from Brighton, where bathing in the sea was already a fashion.

 

 

The baths in the nineteenth century

 

bains de merAll the writers agreed with making fun of the “grace” of the bathers of the time. First, people were content with dresses, and then they adopted pants with a merino flannel jacket. Around 1850, a few ladies even ventured to show their naked ankles. The Bathers Guide of 1853 indicated that the bathing costume for men “should have a belt large of 10 cm, holding well the size of the body, in order to maintain the lumbar muscles, to give a good point of support when they are swimming; the rest of the cloths will be large and floating around the knees”. Until the First World War, bathing suits for men were in striped fabric.

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