Helfaut is a commune
Communes of France
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...

 in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...



A large village situated 4 miles (6 km) south of Saint-Omer
Saint-Omer , a commune and sub-prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais department west-northwest of Lille on the railway to Calais. The town is named after Saint Audomar, who brought Christianity to the area....

, at the D195 and D198 crossroads.
It is located on a geological
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 formation called the "plateau d'Helfaut", which separates the Aa valley to the north from the Lys valley, to the south. The commune is home to a unique geological heritage, resulting in an unusual landscape. The sides of the old quarries alongside the plateau display many geological strata. The quarries of Heuringhem
Heuringhem is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:A village situated 4 miles south of Saint-Omer, at the D195 and D477 crossroads.-Population:-References:* -External links:*...

 and Blendecques
Blendecques is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography:A town situated 3 miles south of Saint-Omer, at the junction of the D77, D210 and D211 roads. The river Aa flows through the commune...

 have collapsed as a result of soil creep
In geology, solifluction, also known as soil fluction, is a type of mass wasting where waterlogged sediment moves slowly downslope, over impermeable material. It occurs in periglacial environments where melting during the warm season leads to water saturation in the thawed surface material ,...

. The commune gave its name to 'Dilluvium d’Helfaut', a flint and clay formation rare in France and Europe.
The commune is home to many rare and protected species in a heathland landscape, which is unusual for northern France and justified the creation of a nature reserve (Les Landes d'Helfaut).



The village was subject to much damage during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, as it was here that the Germans
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 sited La coupole, an underground bunker
A military bunker is a hardened shelter, often buried partly or fully underground, designed to protect the inhabitants from falling bombs or other attacks...

, housing a huge concrete dome built by the Nazis between 1943 and 1944. Initially this bunker was to serve as a base to launch V2 rockets
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

, but it never entered service because of the many bombing raids by the Allies. The Dome has been transformed into a museum.

Places of interest

  • The church of St.Fuscien and St.Victoric, dating from the thirteenth century.
  • The church at Bilques.
  • La Coupole : Second World War museum and visitor’s centre
  • The monument known as the ‘Helfaut column’. See :fr:colonne d'Helfaut

External links

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