José Capez – Le Portel Plage

Taking the fort by storm!

Sitting on the parapet overlooking Le Portel beach, José Capez opens his wallet which is full of photos of the Fort de l’Heurt, the ruins of which can be seen in the distance, lashed by the sea. This technical manager who works for Eurotunnel knows all there is to know about the history of this building and the town of Le Portel. So it’s no surprise that passers-by stop every so often to say hello and listen closely to what he has to say.

Involved for the past ten years with an organisation formed to preserve the fort and the heritage of Le Portel (L’Association de Sauvegarde du Fort de l’Heurt et du Patrimoine Portelois), José Capez spends much of his free time exploring the past. “I love telling stories. Once, Napoleon wanted to meet the troops based at the Fort de l’Heurt to congratulate them for having sunk a small boat full of English spies. As it was high tide, he had to take a boat to get out to the fort. And the boat capsized! The emperor was rescued by fishermen who took him to a nearby house, where he was given a coffee while he waited for his clothes to dry. The local family who welcomed Napoleon has kept the cup from which he drank. This cup has been passed down from one generation to the next and recently I met the descendent of the family, who showed me the object in question.”

Whenever he can, José searches out and unravels stories from the past. He is gradually bringing the past of Le Portel back to life through a series of publications and exhibitions. So whether he’s researching fishing or flobards (a type of boat), temporary settlements, the Fort de l’Heurt or the Parc de la Falaise, the region around Le Portel holds very few secrets for José!

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