I am lying on my back in the grass, wind blowing in my hair, trying to catch my breath from the steep climb. There is only the soaring sound of a small motorised glider and the gentle splashes of the water hitting the rocks, 135 meters below me.

I’m at the Côte Opale in North Pas-de-Calais, France and it’s a perfect spring weekend getaway.

I’m traveling from Boulogne-sur-Mer to the Cap Blanc Nez in 48 hours.
48 hours to benefit from the fresh salty air and spend to the fullest.


What to See

Boulogne-Sur-Mer

I start in Boulogne-sur-Mer and it’s raining my socks off and so I run for shelter to the nearby basilic, which isn’t impressive if you have visited a few cathedrals. Let’s just call it lovely.
The historical city centre quickly becomes deserted because of the rain but I prefer it this way, without tourists  clinging to the shops.
The city has a certain charm but I can’t put my finger on it.  I’m not drawn in yet.
Probably because I just want to feel some sand on my toes.  I’ll put this city on my “revisit on a sunny day” list and travel onwards.



Wimereux

In Wimereux beach cabins are lined up at the embankment. The cabins have all been given names such as Viking and Le Temps de Vivre. I love beach cabins because they carry a story about their owner. They are a physical reminder of their dreams, life philosophy or just lousy imagination. Land inwards a line of picturesque cottages show off the latest trend in color blocking.

 

Wimereux beach cabin

 

Ambleteuse

In Ambleteuse, a small castle lies solely on the beach. At high tide it gets surrounded by the sea. It’s worth the visit, if it were only for the adventure of reaching the place without slipping over the many seaweed rocks.


Cap Gris Nez 

But in the end I haven’t come here for seaweed rocks! I want to see waves clashing up against the rocks.
I decide to visit Cap Gris Nez at blue hour when most people have already retreated to their hotels. The parking lot is empty aside from 2 campers spending the night up here. I walk up to the viewpoint as everything slowly turns into nothing but shades of blue. The night falls and I’m standing on a wooden balcony, alone in the dark with nothing but the sound of smashing water. I truly recommend coming here for a late night walk after engulfing yourself at restaurant La Sirène.

 Cap Gris Nez Pas-de-Calais


Where to Eat

La Sirène is my dining choice for my first evening for multiple reasons. First of all : Location! The restaurant is situated at the foot of the Cap Gris Nez overlooking the beach and the seafront. If you book a table by the window you can watch the high tide-water slowly submerging the mussel banks, that lie along the coastline. It’s perfect for a romantic tête-à-tête and a late night stroll to the Cap Gris Nez  viewpoint.

 

mussel banks cap gris nez

 

My second reason for choosing this place is: Cheap fresh seafood.
You pay a mere €28 for a three course menu which even allows you to choose from 3 different starters, 3 main dishes and the complete dessert card.
The assortment de fruit de mer is a feast for the oyster swallowers and whelk picking fans. For me it’s a prelude for the sublime main course. A perfectly short grilled tuna steak with sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Grilling a piece of tuna to perfection and bringing it to a plate without it turning up cold or shoe lace material seems to be difficult for many chefs. But this place knows exactly how it’s done. The mellow mashed and well seasoned sweet potatoes top it off and bring this dish on my list of top dining experiences.

If you aren’t in for a three course menu meal than opt for one of the many brasseries that you can find in the small towns such as Wissant. Look for a little authentic place with a terrace that serves up fresh mussels cooked in white wine accompanied with french fries. You should be able to find this for €15 tops.

Where to Stay

I’m stuffed and so it’s time to head back to the château where I’m spending the night. The Château de Ledquent in Marquise is a big statuary manor surrounded by farmers land and small dirt roads. It sounds fancy and I do feel like I have arrived at the Prince of Bel Air mansion. Once inside my excitement however gets cooled down quickly by dark striped tapis plain matched with zebra wallpaper and plastic chandeliers. It’s everything but cosy or romantic. The breakfast is horrible as well. No juice, no fruit, no croissants.
If you are looking for a place to rest your head for €54 the room than this might be ok. If you are not, be smart and book early. I tried to book a few weeks in advance and rang up more than 15 Bed and Breakfasts, all of them where already fully booked.
Chateau Ledequent Marquise

 

Cap Blanc Nez

On day 2 I head to Cap Blanc Nez where a checkerboard landscape of yellow rapeseed flowers and helm grasses, gently being swayed by the wind, unfold a brightly colored spectacle.
Minutes ago I felt tiny, walking along the water which is slowly corroding these massive limestone mastodons. Now I’m high above, looking across the water, imagining to see London on the other side. I feel like I’m on top of everything.
And yet I am just lying on my back in the grass, wind blowing in my hair, trying to catch my breath from the steep climb. There is only the soaring sound of a small motorised glider and the gentle splashes of the water hitting the rocks, 135 meters below me.
It’s the perfect spring weekend getaway.

 

Cap Blanc Nez Pas-de-Calais
 Cap Blanc Nez Pas-de-CalaisCap Blanc Nez Pas-de-Calais
 Cap Blanc Nez Pas-de-Calais

Cap Blanc Nez Pas-de-Calais