Coast to a Good Time in Pas-de-Calais

La Cote d’Opale (External link) (the Opal Coast) is a breathtaking 120km stretch of fine sandy beaches, sparkling water and imposing cliffs that runs all the way from Dunkerque to Berck-sur-Mer. Water sports are available and enjoyed in abundance: surfing, sailing, speed-sailing, and even land-sailing.

For history buffs, the first recorded use of a sand-yacht appears to have been in ancient Egypt, however, the very first sand-yacht in France was known as anaéroplage and was the invention of Louis Blériot, the famous WWI pilot and daredevil who was also the first man to fly across the Channel from Calais (Blériot village) to Dover in 1909.

For modern daredevils, the world speed record for land-sailing, of over 150km/hr, is held by Bertrand Lambert, who hails from Berck-sur-Mer. Since the days when Blériot ruled the sands alone, land-sailing has become a widely practiced local sport on the long sandy beaches for which the area is famous. At low tide the sea retreats so far that vast stretches of beach are left exposed, offering an ideal playground for both speed-sailing and land-sailing.

If you want to try something new, there are plenty of sailing schools along the coast. Otherwise, the region also offers plenty of opportunities to hike, ride horses along the beach, or bike along one of the many popular trails. Nature-lovers will be enchanted by the classified sites and nature parks, the Grand Site des Caps, one of just 10 locations awarded Grand Site de France status, is definitely not to be missed. Cap Blanc Nez and Cap Gris Nez are protected areas of outstanding natural beauty, where walkers can enjoy breathtaking views across the Channel. On a clear day, you can see all the way to England!