PLACES TO VISIT

A weekend at the Opal Coast in France

BoulogneSurMer_kidsWe’ve discovered that the Côte d’Opale (Opal Coast) in the upper North-west corner of France is aptly located for a Babyccino Kids meet-up — it’s only a few hours drive from Paris and Antwerp (where my dad lives), and it’s also just a 20 minute drive from Calais, where the channel tunnel connects France directly to the UK. So it’s pretty much on the doorstep from London as well!

A few weekends ago Emilie and I got to spend some quality time together and discover this pretty region of coastal France with our families in tow. A visit of only two days but absolutely jam-packed with activities!

BoulogneSurMer_3 nausicaaOur visit started in Boulogne sur Mer, France’s leading fishing town which was founded by the Romans and has played an important role in history due to its strategic location across the English channel. One of the main attractions of Boulogne su Mer is Nausicaá, the French National Sea Centre, beautifully located right on the shore. The children loved exploring the many aquariums and sea animals (including sea lions, penguins and — the highlight — no less than 12 species of sharks swimming in huge water tanks!).

nausicaa_boysBesides ‘simply’ discovering the vast array of all those amazing species from the seven seas, I thought it was nice to discover Nausicaá’s educational mission as well. We learned that the marine environment is a huge resource, not just for food but also for instance for energy (fuel!) and medication. The centre strives to raise awareness about the need to respect the beauty of Marine life and to act responsibly towards the resources it has to offer.

BoulogneSurMer_OldTown BoulogneSurMer BoulogneSurMer_4 BoulogneSurMer_chateauA very interesting aspect of Boulogne sur Mer is that the Old Town is a completely separate and compact fortified area located on a hill in the middle of the ‘modern’ town. This Old Town is entirely surrounded by medieval city walls, only accessible through 4 tiny gates dating from the 13th century. Inside the sturdy walls, the medieval streets have been surprisingly well maintained. We discovered pretty old houses with gorgeous colours and detailing, small gardens full of flowers, and lovely little shopping streets and boutiques.
The basilica of the Nothre Dame was super special with it’s double nave and amazing dome, and the medieval castle was impressive to discover as well. The gardens surrounding the city walls were so pretty with huge chestnut trees in full bloom. The kids loved this visit, and so did we.

BoulogneSurMer_7 BoulogneSurMer_vivi BoulogneSurMer_8 After a yummy dinner in town (seafood, of course!) we drove to our hotel located in a little village in the middle of greenery south of Boulogne sur Mer. Anytime we find a nice hotel with interconnecting doors between two rooms, Tamar and I are super pleased as it’s so perfect for our family of six. And anytime we find a hotel with a buffet breakfast bar, the kids are super pleased because they love having the choice of what to eat. We found both so we were all very happy!

LeTouquet_street LeTouquet_shops flowers LeTouquet_market Le Matisse in Le Touquet LeTouquet_LeMatisseOn Sunday we drove to Le Touquet, the chic seaside resort also known as ‘Paris Plage’. I’ve been wanting to go here for decades, so finally I got to see those pretty holiday houses from the Parisian jet-set. What we loved about Le Touquet is that it’s super relaxed but also slightly upscale — the streets are lined with beautiful flowers, there are plenty of pretty shops to discover, a lovely park, nice restaurants with super friendly staff (we loved our lunch at Le Matisse!), and as I mentioned, beautiful houses — mansions even.

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LeTouquet_pim LeTouquet_beach_kids LeTouquet_beach LeTouquet_beach3But the best thing about Le Touquet, was the amazing beach. We lucked out completely with the weather — it was absolutely perfect! The kids were running over the beach, serving sand tarts to each other and getting wet entirely on purpose. The beaches are big and sandy, like in Belgium and the Netherlands, but the obligatory carrousel wasn’t lacking, making it all quintessential French.

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LeTouquet_manege2 LeTouquet_ponyAfter a stroll through the village we ended our visit with a pony riding session in seriously the most beautiful manège ever. It felt like a film, with a race course in the back, pretty stable buildings and tiny airplanes flying over. A beautiful place!

LeTouquet_officeWe had such lovely days! We were sad that Courtney and family couldn’t join us this time, but we’ll definitely be back — we’ve already been scouting locations for our next stay and we even found a nice location for a future Babyccino Kids HQ — haha!

xxx Esther

PS A big thanks to NausicaáNAJETI Hotel du Parc and the Boulogne sur Mer and Le Touquet tourist offices for their kind invitation to come and discover their region of France. We enjoyed our stay so much and will definitely be back!


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Comments (8)

June 5, 2015

Hi Esther! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous trip and family! I am inspired to take my family there. Looks so fun and charming. Did not realize you had 6 kids!! WOW!


June 6, 2015

Ha! 2 of those kids area actually mine, though they do think that Esther’s kids are their cousins!


Esther in Amsterdam
June 8, 2015

6 kids between Emilie and me: 2 from Emilie, 4 mine — and yes, they are like cousins! x


June 6, 2015

Love! How nice that you all were able to spend time together in such a beautiful place. You all look so very happy!


June 6, 2015

Golly, what a beautiful place, it all looks incredible x


Rachel
June 9, 2015

Another freebie! Glad you disclosed it.


Esther in Amsterdam
June 10, 2015

Hi Rachel, thanks for your comment. Part of this trip was offered to us by the Boulogne region. They hoped we would help them promote this pretty region of France, and after getting to know it I was happy to do so, because I feel it was a lovely trip and I would totally recommend it to our readers. On our blog, we have always (since 2007!) been sincere about the subjects we write about. We write from our own experiences, and offer genuine, personal recommendations. We like to see, experience and/or test everything. We do get sent samples (or in this case, invited to an experience) in the hope that we like to share them. I would say, these are the perks of our job. Of course this is great, but taking and styling photos, editing those, writing an article, etc takes more time than you would think. The amount of work we put in writing these articles does never weigh up to the value of the samples we are sent. (For example, the post above took me over a day to put together — I just checked and I made 73 revisions). We haven’t been paid for this post, and even though as I said part of this trip was offered to us, we still paid for the rest of it. Again, it is of course wonderful to be offered samples or experiences, but it doesn’t pay for the grocery bill, insurances, electricity etc. Sometimes we are paid for our blog post, in this case we always mention this at the bottom of our post. I hope this explains our job a little better! Again, thanks for your comment. Esther


June 14, 2015

What a beautiful area – that I had never heard of before! Thanks for taking the time and effort to share about it.


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