Pas-de-Calais promises spectacular coastal scenery, intriguing cultural pursuits, and fascinating heritage. Explore miles of golden sandy beaches, myriad restaurants, and exceptional nature. From Calais to Le Touquet and on to Arras, here are ten great reasons to visit Pas-de-Calais.
1. Nausicaá: Europe’s largest aquarium
In Boulogne-sur-Mer, discover 58,000 sea creatures on an exciting family day out with plenty of hands-on activities to keep children occupied. Wander through the immersive 18-metre glass tunnel, marvelling at the rays meandering overhead.
2. Stylish gîtes in a secluded paradise
5 minutes from the sea, the Domaine WE farm complex provides individual gîtes perfect for groups and families looking to celebrate together. The farm has been beautifully renovated, while respecting the environment, with sustainability at the heart of the estate.
3. Beer Bonanza
France doesn’t just offer outstanding wine. In the heart of Arras, next to the historic Place des Héros, taste the best local beers at Chez Marcel thanks to the guidance of beerologist Luka Antonic. Pair your beverage with charcuterie platters and local cheese, or desserts, if you have more of a sweet tooth.
Further north, La Brasserie La Bréche is not just a microbrewery, it also sells locally made kombucha and plenty of activities for young children so all the family can enjoy their afternoon out.
After a few beers or non-alcoholic alternatives, both Arras and Béthune have nearby belfries to visit, which are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
4. Château de Beaulieu
A five-star boutique hotel and restaurant in a historic setting just an hour from Calais. The two restaurants, Michelin-starred Le Restaurant Gastronomique and contemporary brasserie Côté Jardin, cater to all palates and luxurious accommodation make it the perfect place for a romantic weekend.
5. UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: Isnor
Experience breathtaking natural beauty at Ô Marais by Isnor. Created during the medieval period, the manmade Audomarois marshland extends over 3,700 hectares, crisscrossed by 700 km of waterways.
6. Stellar Cuisine: Bacôve
Tucked away in Saint-Omer’s old town, enjoy outstanding French cuisine from Top Chef 2018 winner, Chef Camille Delcroix. Delcroix named his restaurant after the large flat-bottomed boats used in the marshes by Saint-Omer’s vegetable growers, so it’s no surprise that his dishes make the most of the amazing local ingredients, from fish to gin.
7. Rustic Retreats
The 13-hectare Wolphus Farm is the perfect place for an active holiday. Pitch your tent in the peaceful surroundings or stay in the comfortable gîte. The owners regularly organise activities for children, including orienteering and scavenger hunts in the woodland. For a unique holiday idea, try one of their weekend packages to hone practical skills from repairing dry-stone walls to the fundamentals of plumbing.
Situated in the small village of Ecquedecques, Domaine d’Hélant offers six bright, comfortable rooms as well as a gourmet restaurant and microbrewery onsite. In winter, warm yourself by the log fire in the large conservatory.
8. Incredible History
Just under 500 men with the New Zealand Tunnelling Company created a 20km-long network of underground tunnels to connect the medieval chalk quarries under Arras. 24,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers hid in the tunnels, known as the Wellington Tunnels (Carrière Wellington). Early in the morning on April 9, 1917, close to the German front line, the soldiers ran out of the tunnels and poured onto the battlefield.
Palais de la Cathédrale is a stunning 18th-century mansion near Saint-Omer’s striking gothic Notre Dame des Miracles Cathedral. Learn more about the place and the area, thanks to the owner Jean Luc Montois’s guided tours, which take you through the antiques, artworks, and artefacts displayed in the lovingly restored rooms.
9. Novel Experiences
In two luxurious geo domes, discover a culinary adventure at the Cool K’Cahuète supper club. Moving between different picturesque locations along the Opal coast according to the season, there’s always a new view to admire. With seasonal, socially responsible food inspired by French cuisine infused with imagination and originality, you’re sure to have a unique evening. The warm ambience promises new friendships, exchanging tips about the best places to visit with fellow travellers.
Head to Wingles, to try a variety of outdoor activities at Marcel Cabiddu nature and leisure park from archery to water sports. If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxing, opt for boules or mini-golf. After working up an appetite, sit down at Relais Bien-Être to have some delicious food and cocktails in a transformed fisherman’s café.
10. Slumber in Outstanding Accommodation
After a fun day exploring the département, put your feet up in welcoming accommodation. Just 15 minutes from Le Touquet, escape from civilisation in the private woodland and Nordic-style lodgings at Domaine de Fresnoy. Fast WiFi and ample working space make it a great option for digital nomads.
In the centre of Calais, Le Cercle de Malines is a chic bed and breakfast set in an elegant mansion. Savour a fresh French breakfast before exploring the city, we recommend the City of Lace and Fashion (Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode) as your first port of call.
Find out more: www.explorerealfrance.com
Pas-de-Calais Tourism is a partner in the C-CARE project. The C-CARE project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. C-Care aims to measure the impact of the first recovery plans put in place after the lockdown in spring 2020 and establish support actions to encourage economic recovery.
Lead photo credit : Cap Blanc-Nez © lescoflocs
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