It has always been a tradition to welcome foreign students during the summer period. This dates back to 1902 when the first French course for foreign students was established during the summer holidays and was initially organised by l’Alliance Française1.
Interrupted during the two World Wars, this operation took on a new sense of purpose from the beginning of the 1950’s. At this time the University of Lille offered holiday courses for foreign students and teachers and at the same time organised lodgings within families in Boulogne-sur-Mer for the participants2. This operation rapidly encountered a growing success, expanding from a participation of 30 students in 1951 to 200 students in 1957. From that moment, the operation has been repeated each summer without interruption with a large number of foreign students coming to learn the French language in the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Right from the start, the Université d’été de Boulogne-sur-Mer had a broad vision of its mission. Through the teaching of the French language its aim was to encourage meetings and exchanges between different cultures. At the same time, the friendship and the discoveries form an integral part of participation in the Université d’été, alongside the welcome of the local inhabitants and personalities, invitations for meals, celebrations and conferences and excursions.
From the beginning, the Université was established as a registered association, administrated by the University of Lille. Since then, with the creation of new universities in the Nord–Pas-de-Calais region, the association has been administrated by members of the different universities, along with local personalities of the city and of the region.