Fabulous French seaside towns Opal Coast Pas-de-Calais

Written by on May 26, 2018 in Nord-Pas de Calais

Nip across the English Channel to enjoy the authentic fishing villages and seaside towns of the Opal Coast in France’s most northerly region, Hauts de France. It’s a terrific place for the whole family.

Start your adventure at Calais when you leave the boat. French pastries will set you all up for your seaside jaunt. Set off along the D940, keep the sea on your right and follow the road signs to Boulogne via the ‘cote’.

The Opal Coast route

Boulogne is about 40 kilometres away at the end of this stunning road. The route runs right along the coastline and follows the scenic undulations of the terrain. On a clear day, the English South Downs can be seen from some of the high spots. The kids will be able to spot the busy world of ferry traffic, sailing cargos of people and vehicles between Dover and Calais.

This coastal road towards Boulogne is awash with things to find. There are prominent museums preserving the events of the two Great Wars, wiry grass bound sand dunes and quaint architectural structures. First stop off is Sangatte where you can find the vast golden sandy beach that aviation hero, Louis Bleriot took off from and became the first man to fly the English Channel.

There are numerous places to stop en route to Boulogne, authentic little Audresselles with its rock pools and nautical houses, secret bays, museums, forts and beaches galore.

On the other side of Boulogne are yet more lovely seaside stops.

Hardelot Plage

Hardelot Plage is an oasis of seaside nostalgia. The beach is broad and seemingly never ending. Sand yachts and kite flying fill the scene and families stroll across the sands. It’s a great place for swimming.

Just inland there are shops, restaurants and cafés with large villas and carefully tended highways. Just on the north east corner of the town seek out the country park. The birds, animals and plant life here provide a spectacular diversion from the sea.

Located in the park is a grand Chateau that has often been visited by English Royalty over previous decades. Have a look inside and admire the grand rooms and furniture, it’s a centre of Entente Cordiale, the only one of its kind in France. The park is also home to a stunningly contemporary Shakespearean theatre.

Within the Hardelot town boundaries there are sporting activities for everyone. A celebrated golf course, equestrian centre, tennis courts and pony riding for children. Hardelot is sophisticated and welcoming.

Le Touquet

Take the short journey into nearby Le Touquet. The sand is fine and glistening and the downtown culture though is a real contrast to sleepy Hardelot. Le Touquet was created for the well healed and affluent and has many posh hotels, restaurants, casinos and restaurants. The beach was voted the 6th best in France – Trip Advisor, Travellers Choice Awards 2018, just down the road, Wissant beach came in at No. 10.

Le Touquet is a magnet for wealthy Parisians. In the past, famous writers, politicians, aristocrats and Parisians have all brought their money and influence on the town.

Etaples

Move inland a couple of kilometres and you’ll find Etaples a fishing port. The culture here is the complete opposite of Le Touquet. Etaples is not a seaside town really but still very close to the coastline. Town museums present life from long gone days in Etaples. There are poignant reminders of the horrors of the Great War that was fought on its doorsteps.

Berck-sur-Mer

Take the coastal road to Berck sur Mer an unpretentious seaside town with a broad and wide-open beach. Berck can literally take your breath away – it’s a windy beach and famous for its annual Kite Festival which attracts contestants from around the world. Berck caught the imagination of many of the celebrated impressionist painters and you can see some of their masterpieces in a museum in the converted gendarmerie in the town centre.

This little part of France is for enjoying the simple pleasures of family seaside life. It provides the sense of being abroad without having to travel far from home.

Bob Lyons is an ex-pilot turned travel writer, and a total Francophile.

Related Articles

Guide to Boulogne-sur-Mer northern France

Boulogne-sur-Mer is where you’ll find a beautifully preserved old town and the Basilica Notre Dame which has the longest crypt in France (dating back to Roman times). Cobble stone streets, ancient buildings, a chateau museum, quirky shops and fab restaurants. And, don’t miss the UNESCO listed Belfry where you’ll see cannon balls fired on the […]

Continue Reading

What to see in Roubaix northern France

Roubaix in northern France, once an industrial powerhouse city has undergone a regeneration and is emerging as a centre of art and culture … A once thriving textile town, Roubaix is a district that’s undergone enormous change as the world of industrial output has shifted. No longer the powerhouse of production that it once was, […]

Continue Reading

Montreuil-sur-Mer in northern France

Around an hour from the port town of Calais, Montreuil-sur-Mer in northern France is a perfect weekend destination as well as a great stop off point for travellers going to and from the UK. Easy to reach from the A16 main auto route, coming here offers a slice of history and gastronomy as this little […]

Continue Reading

Le Touquet Paris-Plage, Northern France

Le Touquet Paris-Plage is a small seaside resort on the beautiful Opal Coast of northern France. Architecturally it has a mix of British Edwardian and French Belle Epoque styles. Combined with a zest for outdoor living (and its own microclimate), swanky shops and excellent bars and restaurants. It’s a brilliant place for a weekend break […]

Continue Reading

Museums, Monuments and Arts Venues of Lille

Lille in northern France is one of the most cultural cities in the country. There are more than a dozen museums and art venues in the city and every three years or so Lille goes arty-party mad with a major several-months-long art festival known as Lille3000 in public buildings and the streets. Palais des Beaux […]

Continue Reading

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed

Comments are closed.

Top