COTE D'OPALE/PAS DE CALAIS

COTE D'OPALE/PAS DE CALAIS

JEWEL IN THE CROWN!

The Cote D’Opale, also known as the Pas de Calais, is the northernmost region of France and also at its closest point, Cap Gris Nez, a mere 20 miles from the white cliffs of Dover. A dramatic coastline that boasts sensational swathes of sun-kissed sand and mile after mile of mountainous sand dunes, charming seaside towns, much loved by British beach lovers since the Victorian era.

An area of France whose history is intrinsically intertwined with Britain from the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, when the army of Henry V defeated the might of the French forces, through the bloodstained battlefields of the Great War, to the greatest evacuation in military history on the beaches of Dunkirk.

Despite its chequered past, it’s an area that has long been held with great affection by the British, particularly its golfers. Such is the popularity of the Cote D’Opale’s courses, that the Pas de Calais region alone, accounts for 70% of all golfers who visit France from Britain.

Le Touquet is the shining gem of the Cote D’Opale, an elegant holiday resort and playground of well heeled Parisians; it soon became known as “Paris by the sea”! Conceived and developed by two British Francophiles at the early part of the last century, who transformed what was a sleepy village, whose main asset was its brilliant beach, into a golf and gambling resort boasting two golf courses, two casinos, a racecourse plus a plethora of superb hotels, a bevy of buzzing bars and romantic restaurants.

Hardelot is the regions other premier resort and much like Le Touquet, was the brainchild of another Englishman, Sir John Whitley, who purchased 1000 acres of land in 1905, adjacent to a breathtaking 8 mile stretch of beach, again with the vision of creating a golf and sports resort. Today there are two courses at Hardelot, with the Pines course being in the top echelon of French courses, rated at number 7. Even today, there remains very much a British vibe about Le Touquet and Hardelot.

If it’s a taste of traditional France you are seeking, the old fortified town of Montreuil Sur Mer, ticks the boxes, although the name “Sur Mer” (on sea) is something of a misnomer, as the sea has long since retreated from its historic ramparts! The town is reputedly the original setting for Les Miserables. Cobbled streets and shady squares exude character, enhanced by an abundance of laid back bars and quality restaurants.

Whilst the coastal resorts of the Cote D’Opale will always be the strongest lure for travelling golfers, if you prefer to be far from the madding crowds, there are a couple of hidden gems in the Pas de Calais hinterland. One is located at the market towns of Arras, a town with the highest density of monuments in France and the scene of ferocious fighting during the Great War and another at St. Omer, a delightful town whose course is a regular venue for the European Tour. Both towns are particularly strategic if you intend to combine golf with a battlefield tour.

With the Pas de Calais being just a short hop across the channel or under it, should you opt to use Eurostar, it’s the perfect holiday destination for a short break, a long weekend or as the first port of call on a multi-centre tour. World Golf features a diverse range of accommodation options from premier quality hotels and chateaux, to affordable, small and friendly properties and whilst in most other European countries, the star rating system is often over generous, in the Pas de Calais, most accommodation merits an extra star.

Each of France’s regions reveal their own unique character and charm, both in terms of their golf courses and après golf experiences. However, many believe that the Cote D’Opale/Pas de Calais is France’s…

JEWEL IN THE CROWN!