‘Nausicaa’ is an aquarium tourist attraction in the otherwise unremarkable town of Boulogne. Unfortunately ‘Nausicaa’ is not a particularly tourist-attracting word. I wonder if anybody told them that to our Anglo-Saxon ears, the word sounds a bit iffy-tummy-sicky-poo? I would imagine some smart-arsed British tourist did eventually point it out, but by then the Nausicaa Retail Manager had already got the souvenir tea-towels printed. Mind you, it is a damned fine word to say with some gusto if you are actually on the point of vomiting as in, “Did that salmon have a funny taste? I feel a bit nausi-caaaaaaghhhh’. You get the picture.
And ‘Boulogne’ sounds a bit like a strident belch, probably the one preceding the Nausicaa.
I can’t tell you much about Boulogne, other than it has a nice beach and that a parking place in high-season is as rare as a can of Heinz Baked Beans in a French supermarket. However, I can tell you a bit about the tourist attraction Nausicaa, as we were tourists that were attracted to it despite the name.
It allegedly has the biggest fish tank in Europe, although the North Sea may have something to say about that. Thanks to the miserably unfit condition of our weakling pound, it isn’t particularly cheap to get in and there’s not much change out of fifty Euros for a family of four. Although you do get your money’s worth in terms of the sheer weight of fish on display. I have to admit that it did turn out to be more entertaining than my original suggestion, which was a much cheaper trip to stare through a fishmonger’s window.
You can’t knock Nausicaa for the variety of sea-life on display and the imaginations that designed the weird and wonderful tanks they live in. On the downside you’ll probably find that your peaceful Plexiglass contemplation of our marine friends will be spoiled by parties of obnoxious schoolchildren that have failed to grasp the meaning of the words ‘Excuse-moi’, even in their own language. However a swift elbow to the side of the head, when nobody’s looking, usually sorts the problem out and makes you feel a whole lot better about the situation.
As with most similar attractions these days there is a lot of preaching about how Man is mucking up the oceans. I think message-saturation point was reached halfway through a 3D film in which Jacques Cousteau’s Great Grandson’s Cousin lectured the audience about how it was all my fault that there’s only one mackerel left in the English Channel. I know he blames me because he said “it’s your fault” and his big finger came out of the screen and pointed directly at me. He’s right mind you, but how did he find out?
The cafes are very cheap inside Nausicaa so I wouldn’t bother with the normal tight-fisted picnic of sweaty baguettes and warm pop on this particular trip. However, taking a picnic basket may enable you to smuggle in some fishing line and bait. This will make your trip much more entertaining.
I’d caught two sharks and a penguin before I was thrown out.