Gravelines (Grevelingen) is a small historic town and commune on the northern coast of France on the river Aa 15 miles (25 km) south west of Dunkirk, in the Nord département. Population: 12,481. There is a market in the town square (Place Charles Valentin) on Saturdays. The "Arsenal" approached from the town square is home to an extensive and carefully displayed art collection. There are modern bronze statues in the grounds.


In the early 12th century, Saint-Omer was an important port in western Flanders. However silting gradually cut it off from the North Sea, resulting in the construction of a canal to the new coast at what is now Gravelines. The name is derived from the Dutch Gravenenga, meaning Count's Canal. The new town became heavily fortified as it guarded the western borders of Spanish territory in Flanders.

There was a famous Meeting at Gravelines in 1520, between the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V and King Henry VIII of England. There were also two battles fought nearby, the first was a land battle in 1558 resulting in a victory by Spanish forces of Lamoral, Count of Egmont over the French under Marshal Paul des Thermes. The second was a naval attack using fire ships in 1588 launched by the Royal Navy under Lord Howard against the Spanish Armada at anchor.

The town was captured and recaptured several times by the French and Spanish between 1639 and 1658, and finally annexed to France in the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659.

Associated towns

Gravelines has been associated with Dartford in the English county of Kent.


Now the city is mainly known for its nuclear energy plant, with six PWR reactors of 910 MWe each. ()


The name Gravelines is most notable for surname of family in Canada. The patriarch was Urbain Baudreau dit Gravelines. Many were named Baudreau dit Gravelines (Baudreaus of Graveline, France) but later changed their last name to Graveline. This has also been changed to Gravelin in some families.

There is a plaza in Montreal dedicated to Urbain, who became a syndic in Montreal. There is also a stetch of highway near Biloxi dedicated to one of his grandsons, who became an adventureur, traveling from Canada up and down the Mississippi, and settling near the Gulf Coast.

One famous family member is Thomas Gravelines, the top rated AAA midget goalie in the 2005/2006 hockey season in Canada, who won the all-Ontario's with the Sault North Stars in Waterloo, Ontario.

Another famous family member is Joseph Gravelines who was an Arikara interpretor for the Lewis and Clark expeditions across the United States in the 18th Century.

The family name has now spread all over Canada (especially Quebec) and the United States.

Related names: Boudreau, Graveline, Gravelines, Gravelin, Gravlin, Gravolin.

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