The northern coast of France is too-often passed through on journeys between the United Kingdom and the bustling southern France, but this serene coastal region is an ideal holiday destination in its own right.
The Opal Coast, or Côte d'Opale, is one of the most beautiful parts of northern France. The 135km stretch of golden sandy coastline faces the English Channel between Berk and Bray-Dune, a town on the Belgian border. The Opal Coast is dotted with charming seaside towns, medieval castles, World War II history, dramatic cliff landscapes, and homestyle restaurants.
What to do in the Opal Coast
The Opal Coast is full of unassuming beachside resorts to unwind without having to venture too far from home. When you stay in holiday parks in Northern France, rest and relaxation opportunities are endless. Options range from historic towns like Calais and Dunkirk to smaller, quaint coastal towns like Neufchatel-Hardelot. Here are 4 of the top destinations to explore along the Opal Coast in Northern France.
Only 34km from the English coast, Calais town is best known for its scenic beaches and fascinating museums. Don’t miss the Musée Des Beaux-Arts Calais, or Fine Arts Museum, which specialises in bronze, terracotta and plaster sculptures by the likes of well-known artist, Rodin. Other popular attractions include the WWII memorial in Parc Saint-Pierre and the 58m-high Le Phare lighthouse constructed in 1848.
For something a little more low-key, spend the day at sandy Calais beach watching the huge ferries pass by. Bring a delicious picnic to share with your family or dine at one of several beachfront restaurants. Family-friendly activities include a mini-golf course and wandering among the iconic white beach huts.
2. Buoulogne sur Mer
Fishing port Buoulogne sur Mer dates back to Roman times when it served as the base for the Rome’s invasion of England. Attractions here range from lazy walks along the beach to delving into maritime history. Explore the UNESCO-recognised Nausicaá aquarium, wake up early to shop at a bustling local fish market, or dine at Le Chatillon fish restaurant, where fisherman and sailors dine themselves.
The best beach for swimming and sunbaking is located just outside of town, in the seaside suburb Wimereux. Stroll along the promenade called the dilgue, find a small café to enjoy an aperitif, or head into town for crafty gift stores to buy some souvenirs.
Nature is the star attraction of Hardelot with candy-striped beach huts and rolling sand dunes along the coastline. There’s also a golf course and thick forest ideal for nature walks. It’s the obvious choice for those wanting to exchange the hustle and bustle of city living for a coastal getaway.
You’ve probably heard of Belgium-border town, Dunkirk, from the edgy 2017 blockbuster film about WWII. There’s no shortage of war history to discover, or you can stick to the sea with coastal walks along the promenade, a seaside quarter with historic villas, and seafood specialties like Flemish fish and mussels in cream and tarragon.