Pas-de-Calais – the great outdoors across the Channel… | EUROtoday

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Golden sky over the Opal Coast at Wimereux on a sunny autumn evening

Endless seashores that function silky sand seashores, shimmering bays, secret coves, and dramatic clifftops. Glorious countryside peppered with welcoming inns and crisscrossed by climbing paths and biking routes. Fishing, horse driving, water sports activities and fabulous golf programs. National parks, beautiful gardens, and historic marshlands. The Pas-de-Calais area is ideal for followers of nature and lovers of the great outdoors and the splendid place to unwind, re-energize, reinvigorate…

Nirvana for nature lovers

Pas-de-Calais is a land of extensive-open countryside, uncrowded roads, colourful hillsides, speckled with wildflowers, and a mosaic of fields which run right down to the Opal Coast the place jagged clifftops overlook seashores the place seals calm down and frolic in the mineral- wealthy seawater.

Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park

Around 40 minutes by automotive from Calais lies the market city of Saint-Omer. Well value a go to for its hovering Cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece stuffed with artwork together with a portray by Rubens, and an unlimited wood door which marks the entry of King Louis XIV. It’s a cobble-streeted city of many charms and a superb Saturday morning market. It can be dwelling to one in all the pure wonders of France – the Audomarois, historic marshlands, a part of the Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park.

Spread over 22,300 hectares, watered by 700km of canals and residential to an abundance of animal species together with uncommon and endangered birds and bugs, and tons of of wildflowers and fauna, the space is a UNESCO listed biosphere reserve.

Monks and Mariners

Uncover the historic historical past of the marshes of Saint Omer at the Maison du Marais interpretive heart. Monks in the 7th century carved channels into the wealthy, peaty soil of the marshlands in order that the land could possibly be cultivated, and there is nonetheless a thriving market backyard on this horticultural wonderland. You can tour the marshes by boat (O’Marais by Isnor) and spot a wealth of waterfowl and different wild creatures. This space served as a close to-impregnable hideaway for the wartime French Resistance and is the solely place in France the place the put up is delivered by boat! And it is right here that you would be able to go to the workshops of the final conventional wood boat makers of the marshes

Follow all or a part of the 120km lengthy strolling route of the Audomarois which takes in the marshlands in addition to the forest of Eperlecques, the valley of Aa, the countryside and Arques the place there’s a well-known glass manufacturing unit. Or calm down and rent a ship, float alongside the peaceable canals, admire the vegetable gardens and cease off for an area feast at La Baguernette – the place they serve the finest, sweetest, beer tart. Ever.

Two steps from Saint-Omer, the Romelaëre Nature Reserve is a small nook of paradise the place you possibly can uncover 3 trails, in the coronary heart of a preserved nature, the place boarded walkways take you thru lily ponds and lakes.

The Opal Coast

The Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park additionally takes in the Opal Coast. A Regional Nature Park is totally different from a National Park, as the space is inhabited, and it is goals are to showcase pure, cultural, and human heritage and convert them into tangible elements in the sustainable improvement of the native space. Along the Opal Coast the space consists of the Deux Caps, cliffs often called Blanc-Nez and Gris-Nez (White Nose and Gray Nose) which have Grand Site de France standing and jut out over the English Channel reverse their cousin the White Cliffs of Dover which you’ll be able to clearly spot on a transparent day. Below these two cliffs lie 10km of sandy seaside, and alongside the prime a coastal path presents jaw-dropping views over the sea and countryside.

Visit the Maison du Site des Deux-Caps the place you possibly can rent bikes and uncover the historical past and heritage of the space, the tradition, and traditions. You can go away your baggage in lockers right here, decide up maps for the space and saddle up for a 118km loop of the route of the Velomaritime which runs alongside the coast all the means from Dunkirk to Roscoff.

Or take your time and meander the coastal paths of the GR120 alongside dunes and sandy seashores, or head inland to find unspoiled countryside criss-crossed by a community of 1000’s of miles of maintained and signal posted trails and site visitors free roads.

Seals and seaside delights

Seals basking on the Opal Coast

At the seaside resort of Berck-sur-Mer, head right down to the water’s edge on the south aspect of the seaside on the Baie d’Authie, to see an enormous colony of greater than 100 wild seals splashing about in the water, lazing about on the sandbanks, and calling out to one another.

Cozy up below a blanket on the hills of the Deux Caps, the Two Cliffs, which overlook the White Cliffs of Dover and revel in a picnic. Nothing says France greater than a baguette with a bit of cheese or some tasty charcuterie with a glass of wine – or a flask of espresso.

Take in the coastal surroundings that impressed the great painter JM Turner and see the place Charles Dickens lived in Hardelot the place you possibly can go to a fortress, Elizabethan-style theater, and beautiful gardens. Follow the ‘Painter’s Path’ at Wissant or the ‘Fisherman’s Trail’ at Audresselles. Head to Le Touquet Paris-Plage, the place little has modified since the heady days of the early 19th century, when this little resort was the place to go for the jet setters of the world. Climb the great dunes of Slack, trip an e-bike alongside the coastal roads and suck in the invigorating sea air. Stop off for some heavenly grub – a fishy dish at a conventional fishermen’s café, a wealthy and sturdy stew at a Flemish Inn, or an area beer.

Explore the countryside

Explore the regularly increasing community of Voies Vertes biking trails criss-crossing Pas-de-Calais’s countryside. Take it straightforward pootling alongside Béthune and Aire-sur-la-Lys’s light canal towpaths; or combines nature and historical past on the Véloroute 32 Remembrance Trail, which winds its well beyond key memorial websites, conflict cemeteries, monuments, and museums from Arras to the metropolis of Amiens in the neighboring Somme division.

Wherever you are headed, maintain your eyes peeled for the Accueil Vélo© indicators flagging up bike-pleasant lodging and eating places, charging factors and rental and restore outlets.

For someplace a bit totally different, Lens’ UNESCO listed slag heaps, left behind after the demise of the mining trade are actually a haven of nature. You stroll, cycle, discover nature and examine the vines – sure vines are rising on these inky rockscapes, and even ski! Perched 129m atop one in all Noeux-les-Mines’ slag, it might not rival the Alps’ powdery pistes, however it’s the solely run in Europe open 12 months-spherical.

Fresh air and forests

Meanwhile forest followers will get pleasure from the wooded wonders of Pas-de-Calais from the immense forest of Desvres the place ash bushes, oaks, beeches, and hornbeams thrive (and legend has is that the Romans planted the garlic that carpets the forest flooring), to the Rihoult forest in Clairmarais, Saint Omer the place with luck you may spot the deer and herons who drink from the ponds. The nationwide forest of Guînes is an Instagrammer’s pleasure with its colourful flowerbeds dotted with chestnut bushes make it good for stunning photographs, as is the great forest of Hesdin which is at its finest in autumn – stuffed with vibrant jewel-like shade.

In the wooded hills behind Calais and Boulogne, tinkling brooks course by way of the picturesque Seven Valleys, a rural idyll the place cows graze in lush meadows and are pushed down the slender lanes to the milking parlor whereas roses appear to develop round each cottage doorway and rolling fields are seasonally stuffed with blood crimson poppies in one in all Mother Nature’s most spectacular shows.

The countryside of Pas-de-Calais is simply good for picnics and nation walks and biking.

Relax and unwind on the golf course

This area is great for golfers with a dozen golf programs to select from. Crowd-free fairways, gorgeous coast, wonderful countryside, sea views that cease you in your tracks, or deep in the forests and valleys. Golf course La Mer in Le Touquet (18 holes) is rated in the prime one 100 programs in continental Europe. It has fabulous views over the sea, plus a great clubhouse. Also alongside the coast you may discover La Forêt (18 holes), Le Manoir (9 holes) and Wimereux (see the web site, whereas at Arras, just some minutes from the historic metropolis, the French Women’s Open has been hosted on quite a few events at the 18-gap La Vallée, plus there may be additionally the 9-gap Les Aubébines.

Pick up a Golf Pass which covers a spherical of golf at 5 of the seven 18-gap programs alongside the Opal Coast (€290, legitimate for 15 days, 2023).

Discover masses to see and do, the genuine, uncommon and wow issue locations of the great outdoors in Pas-de-Calais:

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Pas-de-Calais – the great outdoors across the Channel…