A day at the Côte d’Opale

Last week I had an entire week off work, and no specific holidays planned. Of course, I just couldn’t resist making a little trip because once the travel bug bites…

I had promised my grandfather a while ago that when the weather was fine, we would one day do a little road trip along the Côte d’Opale (Opal Coast). This is a 120-kilometer long coast in the North of France (Region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais) and is the closest point to England. When the weather is clear, you can see the cliffs of south-east England.

Last Thursday was finally a lovely day which we were all available, so we hopped in the car and headed to the Côte d’Opale.

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We started our trip with a stop in Calais. This is thé place where all transport to the United Kingdom departs. I have already been in Calais multiple times, mostly to get on the boat or to use the underground tunnel to get to England.

But this time, we also went to the city center of this city. The city hall and the square surrounding it is just stunning. I especially loved the book-shaped bench which has the following inscription: “The benches of liberty are at your disposal, bringing together texts, words and pages which allow you to discover authors both from here and elsewhere. All the citizens of the world, on continents can freely share moments in time and others emotions of literature.”

When we were there, there were also little elephant-statues all over the city for a campaign called ‘Elephant Parade‘ which tried to raise awareness for elephants preservation through art. They were just too cute to resist. And it’s also an important cause so I just couldn’t not mention it. Save the elephants!

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From Calais we drove towards Cap Blanc-Nez (Cape White Nose). This is a cape which is 134 above sea level and consists of chalk. When the weather is clear, you can also see the chalk cliffs of England. We were lucky and were able to see England almost during our entire trip. If you zoom in on the picture of the sea here below, you can see it quite clear as well. Aside from that, Cap Blanc Nez is also a really nice place to find all kinds of fossils.

On top of the cliff, an obilisk was erected to commemorate the Dover Patrol which kept the channel free from U-boats during World War I.

But the most beautiful view of the capes is from the beach. You can walk all the way from the top down, or you can drive down to the beach as well, to a village called Escalles. 

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We walked along the beach for quite a while, unable to stop staring at this magnificent piece of nature. But as we still had quite a few things to see, we went back to the car and continued to Wissant for a little stop. Especially the village is really lovely.

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Next up was the other cape on our trip: Cap Griz-Nez (Cape Grey Nose). This cape is about 16 kilometers away from Cap Blanc-Nez and is with its 50 meters above sea level a lot smaller than Cap Blanc-Nez. I must admit that I was also a lot less impressed by this one. It’s less dream-like than Cap Blanc-Nez. But Cap Griz-Nez is the actual closest point to England. From there it’s only about 30 kilometers bird’s eye to the UK, so this is the place where many swimmers – including my friend Reinout – leave to swim across the channel.

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With that, we left the capes behind us, and headed for Ambleteuse. Just a quick stop left us at the beach for a refreshing ice cream with a view of the Fort Mahon.

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Next we headed for Wimereux, mostly to see the city hall and the surrounding area.

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And then our last stop before heading back home was Boulogne-sur-mer. Definite must sees here are the basilica, the castle and the belfry. When you have some time, it’s really nice to just stroll around the walls of the fortress of the old city. Such a lovely, lovely city.

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And then it was sadly time to head back home. But I had such a lovely day, and that so close to home. It’s definitely a nice day out and totally worth some of your time. It’s a nice mix of beaches, nature and cities. If you have any more questions about this area of France, you can find more information on the official website of Côte d’Opale.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

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