Famous for its distinctive and ever-changing light, the Opal Coast boasts unspoiled countryside, ideal for outdoor activities, while its authentic towns have no lack of cultural appeals. The trip kicks off in Calais, renowned for its long, chequered history and magnificent beaches. Feast on seafood at Boulogne and Le Touquet before give you strength and energy to enjoy the many sporting activities! Your stay draws to a close in the Bay of Authie, where you can observe seal colonies basking on the sand banks at low tide.
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CalaisFort-Mahon / Bay of Authie
A historic hub of international travel and trade, the urbanscape of Calais is quite unique and particularly lively in the summer. Don’t miss Rodin’s huge monument of the Bourgeois of Calais or the city’s ornate red-brick town hall, surrounded by greenery. Pop into the Lace Museum, a historic factory modernised to showcase some 80 lace-making professions. Finish with a hike along the headlands of Cape Blanc-Nez or Gris-Nez, stopping to take photos of one of the finest views of the coast, before making your way to Boulogne-sur-mer.
Whether it be a stroll along the ramparts or admiring Notre-Dame basilica or the Column of the Grande Armée, take your time to visit Boulogne-sur-mer (possibly with a guide), before getting immersing yourself in the mysteries of the ocean at the Nausicaá aquarium. The long sandy beach of Hardelot-Plage is ideal for long walks and even a spot of sand-yachting. Next stop Touquet-Paris-Plage. This seaside resort is a pleasure drome of sporting and leisure activities: golf, casino, spa, water sports and horse-riding, as well as cultural excursions.
Finish your stay at Le Touquet with a spin in the Jardin de la Manche, home to 45km of horse-riding trails and 50km of forest roads that cut through woodland and residential districts! Now make a beeline for the Bay of Authie, taking the time to pop into Valloires Abbey, the only 18C Cistercian abbey still intact in France, along the way. The journey ends at the beaches of the mouth of the bay, heaven for a quiet siesta or more energetic kitesurfing or sand yachting. Look out for the grey seals and porbeagle (sharks) at low tide.
Spend your last moments enjoying the interminable sandy beaches of Fort Mahon, home to a famous yacht club, or set out to explore the Authie Valley and Somme Bay, a Grand Site of France since 2011. The region’s natural treasures, like the nature reserve of Marquenterre Park are best explored on foot or by bicycle: 250 hectares of dune and forest park home to some 300 species of birds. This stunning location is further enhanced by the almost magical light that turns soft shades of pink, grey, gold and, of course, opal.
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