A Village of Overturned Boats

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Boathouses 1

In the 1900s, the village of Équihen-Plage in northern France was an active fishing community. As fishing boat hulls became derelict, poor fishermen–and sometimes their widows–would repurpose them as roofs for their handmade shelters. The overturned vessels made for tight but economical quarters.

Most of these unique homes were destroyed during World War II, but modern residents of Équihen-Plage have ensured that the traditional structures are not lost to history. Interest in the boathouses returned in the 1990s, and today they cover the landscape, housing nearly 3,000 people and serving as a niche tourist attraction.

The derelict hulls are coated in tar for waterproofing, and then they are raised onto walls. Doors and windows are cut into the hulls. The interiors are tight–usually one room–and don’t provide much headroom, but they are as economical as ever and a critical piece of the village’s coastal heritage.