I’ve lengthy been a fan of this coastal a part of Northern France, partly as a result of there are by no means too many vacationers as they all the time hurry by means of. The cooking is all the time dependable, significantly at bistro degree, and the pungent Marouilles cheese is considered one of my favourites.
The Côte d’Opale or Opal Coast stretches west from Calais alongside the English Channel, and will get its title from the interaction of gray and blue, between sky and the ocean. That is going to be my fixed view for the following two days, with the white cliffs of Dover within the far distance.
Day 1: Calais to Wissant 21.5km, 5 hours
I arrive in Calais through Eurostar on a vibrant sunny afternoon. The climate is about honest and as I make my method to the seashore I’m stunned to search out it virtually abandoned, simply a few canine walkers. I could make simply make out the white cliffs of Dover as automotive ferries ply their approach backward and forward.
The tide is out so I make my approach alongside the seashore, on agency sand, passing quite a few break waters. Ruined stays of WW2 bunkers and gun emplacements are reminders that this was as soon as a part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, constructed to stop an allied invasion.
After an hour, I attain Sangatte’s giant radar mast, and go away the seashore to stroll on a surfaced observe on high of the newly renovated sea wall.
By now there are many folks having fun with the morning sunshine, however I’m quickly again by myself as I head off upwards into the countryside.
I’m aiming for Cap Blanc-Nez, the best level round, though solely a measly 120m excessive. It’s marked by a gray obelisk, inbuilt 1922 as a memorial to the WW1 Calais squadron who patrolled the Channel.
The views throughout the ocean to the Kent cliffs are gorgeous, and the place is a magnet for vacationers. I go away the crowds and cross extra WW2 bunkers earlier than descending to the seashore. I can now make out the vacation resort of Wissant within the close to distance and the opposite excessive level, Cap Gris Nez, far behind it.
It’s about one other hour alongside the seashore and I dodge kite surfers and wade shallow rivers earlier than arriving at my vacation spot.
Youngsters are frolicking within the waves and the village is in full-blown vacation mode. Eating places on the ocean entrance promise moules frite and platters of fruits de mer, however I accept a beer to have a good time the tip of my day’s climbing.
Day 2: Wissant to Boulogne 27.5 km, 6.5 hours
It’s one other wonderful morning and I set off early as I’ve extra floor to cowl right now. My toes are barely sore so I stroll alongside the sand in naked toes, letting the salt salve my blisters. Hardy joggers and a few swimmers are my solely companions and on the water’s edge tractors are buzzing across the mussel poles.
I’m aiming for Cap Gris-Nez so after an hour, go away the seashore at La Sirène, climbing upwards by means of wild flowers in direction of the lighthouse. It’s seen for miles round and is a vital beacon for Channel transport. Throughout WW2 this space was closely fortified and I cross German bunkers as I observe the observe right down to sea degree.
After I attain the shore, the observe stays on the land, however there’s nonetheless three hours earlier than excessive tide so I favor to stroll on the seashore. It’s barely tough as there are rocks and boulders to barter earlier than I attain the small fishing village of Audresselles. The seafood eating places are tempting me however I press on, strolling on the pebbles.
Ambleteuse has a formidable Vauban fort, inbuilt 1680 to protect the estuary of the River Slack. It’s solely accessible at low tide and the trail diverts inland however I’m in a position to wade throughout the channel with the sneakers in my pack. Nonetheless extra seashore strolling earlier than climbing throughout a headland on a sandy observe. I drop down again to sea degree and attain Wimereux, with its busy promenade full with an enormous wheel, and cease for an ice cream.
I’m now on the house stretch and the trail leads away from the coast earlier than passing by means of sand dunes to the Pointe de la Crèche. Steep steps lead upwards and I traverse automotive parks stuffed with camper vans, as I keep it up alongside the cliff.
Lastly, I drop right down to sea degree and attain the seashore at Boulogne, filled with windsurfers and swimmers. There’s simply time to go to Nausicaä, the biggest aquarium in Europe, earlier than I get pleasure from a superb dinner La Matelote, simply reverse. I’m celebrating an exhilarating two days of strolling alongside considered one of France’s most engaging coastlines.
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France has a community of lengthy distance climbing trails and the GR120, also called the GR du Littoral, runs 285km from the Belgium Border to Mer-les-Bains on the sting of Normandy. It’s properly signed and there’s loads of lodging alongside the best way.
Eurostar to Calais or Lille (on foot solely
Eurotunnel to Calais (by automotive solely)
The place to remain:
Ibis Types Calais Centre is a snug base in Calais,
Resort Normandy is an quaint resort with newly refurbished rooms in Wissant
Resort La Matelote is a cultured institution with Michelin-starred meals in Boulogne.
MORE INFO: Pas-de-Calais Tourisme