The Opal Coast of northern France | EUROtoday

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Opal Coast, opposite the White Cliffs of Dover

In the division of Pas-de-Calais, between the good port city of Calais and the seaside city of Berck-sur-Mer lies the Opal Coast. Around 50 miles of superb seashores, huge sand dunes, pine forests and hovering cliffs, peppered with genuine fishing villages, Belle Epoque seaside cities, monuments, memorials and museums. Janine Marsh explores the moderately secret coastal jewel of northern France.

At the beginning of 20th century, painter Édouard Lévêque got here up with the title Côte d'Opale, the Opal Coast, impressed by the luminous mild and the ever-changing colours of the shoreline. “It has opal, a precious milky-colored stone that shimmers with alternating tones of green and red” he declared. The title caught.

The route of the Opal Coast reveals enchanting treasures, a land of yesteryear with farming hamlets, little fishing villages, charming village inns and welcoming eating places, Belle Epoque and artwork deco accommodations, manor homes transformed into small accommodations, the place you’re feeling extra like a buddy than a visitor. There are seashores of nice boulders harking back to the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, and seashores the place the white silky sand lures you to sit down and drink within the wide-open horizon all the best way to the White Cliffs of Dover. Seals frolic alongside the coast, and at times, when the tides are out, an historical shipwreck makes its look. And in all places there are traces of the realm's lengthy historical past, bases from which would-be-conquerors tried for hundreds of years to invade England.

This is a spot to calm down, benefit from the scrumptious meals, pleasant hospitality and take your time. Explore the treasures of this moderately secret and surprisingly numerous a part of France that's hardly recognized exterior of the area.



In 1861, when this seashore resort was already the hang-out of artists like Renoir, Manet and Boudin, a neighborhood girl who had misplaced her husband and 4 kids took in some very sick kids for a recuperative vacation. The very iodized local weather revitalized them and Berck turned well-known for its rejuvenating air. 12km of breezy seashores, excellent for the annual International Kite Festival (April), and for seals! There's a big colony right here who appear to like to entertain onlookers, by basking on the sand, frolicking within the waves and singing loudly!

There are loads of eating places and bars on this conventional seaside resort plus a singular century-old candy store, Succès Berckois the place you’ll be able to watch them make their well-known boiled sweets in-store!

Nip to the city of Merlimont subsequent door and indulge at restaurant “Sur Mer” owned by Alexandre Gauthier, the 2-star Michelin chef of La Grenouillère (Montreuil-sur-Mer). Overlooking the ocean, and an enormous hit with the locals the menu contains fish and chips and mouth-watering minute-cooked mussel.

Le Touquet Paris-Plage

The “Monaco of the North” because it's been dubbed, was, at first of the 20th century, tea place the place the wealthy, well-known and notorious holidayed, from Kings, Queens and Maharajas to Winston Churchill. Cole Porter wrote “Anything Goes” right here, and the city's on line casino impressed Ian Fleming to write down Casino Royale. They stayed on the swankiest accommodations, just like the Westminster which continues to be there, or The Royal Picardy which was the largest resort the world had ever seen, 120 lounges, 500 bedrooms and 50 flats of as much as 10 rooms, every with their very own swimming pool (it was largely destroyed throughout WWII). Much beloved by Parisians, Le Touquet's grandeur is light however the traces of its glitzy and glamorous previous are evident, and with 12 months of sporting and cultural occasions, exhibitions and gala’s yearly – there's all the time loads to see and do.


The infinite pristine sandy seashores of Hardelot, the place aviation legend Louis Bleriot perfected his flying abilities, are by no means packed. Great for households ('Kid' resort classification), sports activities galore from canoeing and sand yachting to horse-riding and a very good golf course. There's additionally a chateau, as soon as owned by English linoleum magnate Sir John Hare within the mid 1800's (he refashioned it in a pseudo-Gothic type), and the rooms are sumptuously adorned. His neighbor in close by Condette, Charles Dickens, one of many best writers of his period, was a frequent customer. There's additionally a Shakespearean type theater which the late Queen Elizabeth II mentioned was “amazing”. The tranquil seaside city has loads of little boutiques and eating places, an artisan biscuit workshop, scrumptious ice cream parlors and huge mansion homes.

Wimereux and Wissant

Photo: Column of the Great Army

Wimereux, just some kilometers from the good metropolis of Boulogne-sur-Mer is an uncommon city with its whimsical, colourful Anglo-Norman villas of the Belle Epoque period. Napoleon Bonaparte developed the city meant as a port for his Grand Army to invade England. Now it attracts seashore lovers and meals lovers – the Art Deco Atlantic resort with its excellent bistro and Michelin starred restaurant is an enormous lure. Canadian John McCrae died right here in 1918 and is buried within the city cemetery. McCrae, the writer of the haunting poem “In Flanders Field,” is honored on Armistice Day, eleventh November when kids in native colleges mild candles in his reminiscence and skim his poem out loud.

A couple of kilometers away, Wissant's seashore has lengthy been standard with the locals together with President Charles de Gaulle (wearing go well with and tie to sit down on the seashore) and his household (his spouse Yvonne was from close by Calais).

The Opal Coast Cliffs

At Audinghem uncover the Jurassic Era Cap Gris-Nez – Gray Nose Cliff, the closest level on the French Coast to England. Just 19 miles from Dover and a landmark for cross-Channel swimmers to purpose for.

Just just a few kilometers away, the tiny village of Escalles by the cliff generally known as Cap Blanc-Nez – White Nose Cliff, has excellent views throughout the countryside, the coast and the English Channel, particularly at sundown.

The website of les Deux Caps and the encircling space are listed as a Great Site of France because of the superb wealth of landscapes, habitats and coastal villages.

If you’re keen on the good outdoor, nature and superb contemporary air, beautiful seashores, cosy inns the place you'll be warmly welcomed and served mouth-watering seasonal and the freshest of seafood dishes, genuine and historic villages, climbing, mountain biking, crusing and horse-riding, fields of crimson poppies in spring and swathes of golden rapeseed in summer time – you'll fall head over heels for the Opal Coast…

Discover eating places, lodging and what to see and do on the Opal Coast:

10 must-sees alongside the Opal Coast

Stunning Bay of the Canche close to Le Touquet.

Slack dunes – the longest stretch of dunes within the Pas-de-Calais division.

Nausicaa – the most important aquarium in Europe, at Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Atlantic Wall Museum, Batterie Todt, close to Cap Griz-Nez.

Cycle the Vélomaritime route which runs from Dunkerque on the Belgian border to Roscoff in Brittany through the Opal Coast (bike rent accessible from Opale Velo from half-day to a 12 months).

The historic port metropolis of Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Watch the fishermen pull their conventional picket boats, flobarts, up on the seashore and purchase your contemporary fish instantly.

Napoleon's Column on the location the place the French General deliberate to invade England and awarded the primary Legion d'Honneur medals.

Visit Les 2 Caps craft brewery at Tardinghen.

Ride a dragon in Calais.

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The Opal Coast of northern France