About Hauts de France
Pas de Calais
This region of France continues to be the most visited by British golfers. There have been golf courses in the region for over 100 years and the area boasts several excellent courses within easy reach of your arrival in France from your Channel crossing.
The coast, as you head south from Calais is known as the ‘Opal Coast’, reflecting the colours in the landscape and excellent light quality.
Wimereux is the first sizeable seaside town, whose promenade boast beach huts which bustle with holiday-makers in the summer. For the rest of the year, they stand empty, witness to the rolling tides which crash in on the bay’s rocky outcrops. The surrounding villages also offer lovely coastal walks and decent seafood. Long a destination for golfers, the course has been there, overlooking the English Channel for over a century. It is the only true links, with several holes offering sea views.
Next is Boulogne-sur-Mer, still France's largest fishing port and much of the local light industry is given over to fish processing-smoking, freezing and canning- and its distribution. Visit the old town and cathedral. Though it's a bit 'touristy', a walk around the ramparts affords extensive views over surrounding sea and landscapes. The town has some of the most beautiful public gardens and roadside planting to be seen anywhere, particularly in the summer months.
Hardelot, the seaside resort of the commune known as ‘Neufchatel-Hardelot’ is a residential area, much of which is set in ancient pine woods and dunes…these are where the 2 fabulous golf courses nestle, too…hence their names, Les Pins, & Les Dunes. Neither is by the sea, but the seafront is magnificent, offering a promenade and 13 km of wide sandy beach. The beach is known for the sporting activities based there. Speed- sailing and sand-yachting, kite surfing and kite boarding amongst them. For the size of the beach, the small seaside resort is relatively modest, though offers visitors a good enough choice of places to eat and local shops. Tourism is increasingly important, to bring in visitors outside the school holidays, when the local population increases. When it is busy with holiday-makers, the golf courses are quite empty, so summer is a good time to visit. Hardelot has an equestrian centre, tennis courts and lovely walks for beach-lovers and ramblers alike.
Le Touquet, or ‘Paris Plage’ as it is known locally, is a much larger, year-round seaside destination. Much more commercialised, it has a true ‘town centre’ and casinos, horse-racing and its own small airport, too. For much of last centrury, a prized destination for the UK’s rich and famous, as well as royalty, its reputation as a short break resort is long established. The town hosts many events, sporting and cultural, motorbike and car rallies to opera…something for everyone, though golfers would be advised to stay away at peak weekends. The golf courses have a reputation stretching far and wide and justifiably so…proximity to the UK and affordability draw golfers back, time and again.
Inland is Montreuil-sur Mer, nowadays a misnomer, as the sea is long departed form the historic walled old town. The town offers wonderful views from its ramparts, open to walk around, and quaint cobbled streets, whose old buildings are home to restaurants and bars…though not that lively at any time. It is a good base for visitors to the region and has charm as well as some decent restaurants, in town and in the surrounding countryside.
Close to Calais, and a likely stop on your return is the Cite d’Europe shopping centre and various wine supermarkets and designer outlets. Cite de Europe, next to the Eurotunnel terminal, is a shopping centre on two levels with a huge supermarket (Carrefour) and other smaller shops and restaurants. Cite offers an alternative place to buy wines and beers before joining your Eurotunnel crossing.
Close to le Touquet, Etaples is a working fishing port at the mouth of the river Canche. Its fishermen run a co-operative with a fish market and a fish restaurant in the little town, other eateries nearby
Pas de Calais is not a wine growing area but it's proximity to Flanders, and Belgium makes it 'beer-drinking' country and there is a wide range of local brews in the supermarkets
As some towns cater very much for the short trip visitor, brasserie-style eating is popular, and the 'frite', potato chip is also considered a regional accompaniment to more than the steak or sausage you may be used to. Mussels and chips is one of the most widely found dishes, in some places served with a range of different sauces.
A group of restaurants has formed the ‘Cote d'Opale Gourmand’, to share the best of what the region has to offer, keep an eye out for their sign.