7 places not to be missed on the French Riviera Opal
The Opal Coast is one of the most visited regions in France. Appreciated by the French, it is also appreciated by the British, the Belgians and many tourists from around the world. Named for its fine sand and changing light, the Opal Coast generally refers to the entire coastline of the Pas-de-Calais, although this name remains unclear.
The Cote Opale: the bridge between France and England
If there are some tourists for whom the Opal Coast is particularly popular, it is the English. Indeed, one should not forget that this coastline is directly facing England. In addition to this, the Opal Coast is the most northern place of France, and it is via the department of Pas-de-Calais that leaves the tunnel under the Channel connecting the hexagon to the English island.
For almost a century, this region has been known to welcome the English on vacation in France. For this reason, the region is rapidly becoming full of seaside resorts, hotels, but also campsites, very popular with the English since it is a very French tradition. For a wonderful stay in the Authie Coast’Opale, we recommend these 5 campsites in the Côte d'Opale’Opale.
7 places to see at the Côte d'Authie’Opal
The Opal Coast is a region rich in unique landscapes, fauna and flora. Endowed with several nature reserves, tourists appreciate it for its large clear sandy beaches, but also for its unique views in France.
Dotted with marshes, dunes and cliffs, the Opal Coast offers many places to visit. Here are the top 7 places not to be missed during a stay in the Opal Coast.
The bay of’Authie
Real pearl of the region, the Authie Bay is a space that has remained natural, even wild. Made up of dunes and a sublime foreshore, this bay is a place of tranquility where fauna and flora reign supreme.
To discover the bay, it is best to go there in the morning, at sunrise. On foot, it is important to follow the marked route and not to go beyond it for fear of damaging the dunes, but also the local fauna and flora spread over 2100 hectares.
Among the marvels hidden in the Authie Bay are the colonies of seals and sea calves. These begin to flow on the sand about 2h30 before the low tide, when the sea withdraws.
In addition to seals and sea calves, it is common to find the sea buckthorn, a small tree that colors the dunes with the orange hue of its berries. If harvesting is forbidden, there is nothing to stop you from reaching out and grabbing a berry or two along the way.
Finally, the bay is full of wild plants such as the salicorne or the pig's ear. Harvesting is authorized provided that the weight of the plants does not exceed 500 grams per person and that they are cut with scissors.
The marshes of the Audomarois
Vast expanse of land and water, the marsh of Audomarois is the result of man's work, from the Middle Ages to nowadays. Shaped to give cultivable lands and irrigation channels, the marsh is today a set of small inhabited islands offering an exceptional fauna and flora.
The marsh is home to nearly 200 different species of birds, but not only. There are also 26 species of fish, 13 chiropterans and dozens of spaces for spiders, cicadas and other insects.
The flora leaves nothing to be desired since 20 species are protected, including one classified as "exceptional". A real labyrinth of water intertwined with land, the Audomarois marshes extend over 160 km of canals.
The visit is done only by bacove and escute. These ancient boats with flat bottoms were once used by all the farmers living in the marsh, whether to transport food, products, tools or animals.
The visit lasts at least 1 hour and costs about 20 € for a group of 4 to 6 people.
The Castle of Hardelot
Among the must-see places to visit, the castle of Hardelot is at the top of the list. With a thousand year old history marked by war, sieges and handovers, the castle has had a long and wide history and different residents each time.
Built in the 12th century by the Counts of Boulogne, the castle, because of its position, passed from French to English or Burgundian hands during the next 4 centuries, as wars and quarrels went on.
Sold after the French Revolution, it was sold again several times, mostly to English people and even to religious congregations. At the end of the 20th century, it was ceded to the commune of Condette. In the hands of the municipality, the castle has been home to the Entente Cordiale Cultural Center since 2009, highlighting the Franco-English entente.
Between the castle, the sumptuous gardens, the exhibition room, but also the nature reserve, the visit of this castle has enough to occupy a morning or an entire afternoon. It is also possible to eat at the castle's tea room.
Prices range from 3 to 5 euros, depending on whether you wish to visit the castle with or without the temporary exhibition.
Bray-Dunes is the most northern commune of France. It is bordered by the North Sea and has a border with Belgium. The city was founded in 1883 by a shipowner from Dunkirk, Alphonse Bray.
It was him who gave his name to Bray-Dunes. Originally a small hamlet with no more than 800 souls, Alphonse Bray financed the construction of a church and a hospice, giving a new impetus to the region.
The area has seen the largest landing in history during the Second World War, and today it is home to many traces of this war, as well as no less than 25 blockhouses. The reason is the strategic position of Bray-Dunes in the French defense against German attacks. The castle is part of the Maginot Line, a fortification line built along the French borders with Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.
The beaches of Bray-Dunes are a must, as well as its seaside resorts and its two famous dunes, the Dune Marchand which is part of a nature reserve and the Dune du Perroquet.
The nature reserve of the Platier d'Oye
Covering an area of 391 hectares, the Nature reserve of the Platier d'Oye is a wide expanse of greenery, dunes and sand, home to a multitude of animals and plants. Outside the dunes, the highest point of the site is 2 meters above sea level.
This protected site is ideal for lovers of wilderness hiking as well as for admiring the various animals and birds living on the site. In total, 20 species of mammals inhabit the site, including 3 marine mammals such as the seal and 230 species of birds. As for the flora, there are no less than 361 species, of which 6 are under national protection and 12 under regional protection.
A guided tour is offered every first Sunday of the month, for a fee of 3€ per adult. Animals are forbidden, and it is forbidden to enter the park on two wheels and to light a fire.
The two capes
The Natural site of the Deux Capes is a protected site and holder of the label Grand Site de France.
The site takes its name from two cliffs at its extremities, 10 km apart: Cap Gris-Nez to the south and Cap Blanc-Nez to the north.
Cap Gris-Nez is a cliff made of clay and sandstone. Its form of cliff comes from the continuous erosion of the rock by water. With a grayish color that gives it its name, this cape does not give access to the sea below.
Cape Blanc-Nez is a white chalk cliff -the color that gives it its name- reaching 134 meters high. A path allows you to go down to the beach below. Both cliffs have a large free parking lot on the periphery, allowing access to the site.
Between the two capes, the landscape is generally quite clear, made up of sands and dunes. It is perfect at the beginning of the day or at the end of the afternoon as a place for hiking, for sportsmen and families looking for a moment of relaxation out of time, marked by the iodized air of the sea.
Mythical place of the Opal Coast, Le Touquet ou Touquet-Paris-Plage is a seaside resort with a beach of several kilometers lined with fine northern sand.
Enjoying its golden age during the 1930s, Le Touquet has actually been a seaside resort since the 1882s. At the beginning of the 20th century, this resort became a meeting place for celebrities, great designers, politicians and aristocrats, making it the place to be for elegance and the world of society.
Today, Le Touquet still offers residences, beaches and several restaurants as well as various activities and exhibitions to keep travelers and tourists busy. A place to visit without any doubt, if only to walk in the footsteps of many celebrities of the 20th century.