PREURES, pictured right is typical of the delightful flower filled villages nestled in the rolling countryside of the Vallée de la Course.

Running roughly parallel with the coast about 10 miles inland the Valley is peppered with ancient woods and crisscrossed by sparkling trout streams that feed the Course river that finishes just below the medieval walled town of Montreuil s/Mer. This picturesque hilly region known as the Haut Pays (The High Land) is truly a step back in time - it remains as unspoilt and peaceful today as it has always been. 

Lost in its idyllic surroundings it is often hard to imagine that in less than 2 hours via the new A16 you could be in either Paris or Brugges.

Stop for lunch at a mellow auberge, buy yourself a huge bunch of watercress just plucked from the river, collect your butter and eggs from a rustic old farm or hunt down that fabled white cottage where they are reputed to make the best handmade chocolates this side of Belgium.  In such blissful pursuits the days pass all too quickly.

Some of our villages

In the principal market town of Hucqueliers, used as the location for the TV series FRENCH FIELDS, (if any of you can remember back that far) there is an assortment of shops, cafes and a small supermarket.  A little further on, is the larger market town of Desvres famous for its distinctive china and tiles handmade at its potteries since the early 18th century, there are 2 large supermarkets and a farmer’s market on Tuesdays. ,  The fabulous Auchan Hypermarket at St. Martin (no need to re-enter Boulogne) is just another 6 miles. There you will find one stop shopping on a grand scale where you can stock up on wine, beer and an overwhelming selection of delicacies to take back home. But be warned – shopping at Tesco will never be the same again!  

In the direction of the coast is picture postcard Montreuil s/Mer with its celebrated restaurants and smart boutiques and just 15 minutes further is the famously chic beach resort 
of Le Touquet - Paris Plage which says it all.

From Spring through Autumn nearly every village hall displays posters advertising a forth coming ‘Brocante’. These lively flea markets are a favourite Sunday morning pastime for locals and visitors alike.  They  provide the villagers with the chance to clear out their barns and lofts of unwanted bric-a-brac and visitors (after a bit of good natured haggling) the opportunity to pick up a real bargain.  Afterwards you could take a stroll around the ramparts and cobbled streets of medieval Montreuil, stop for a drink at a pretty terrace cafe or maybe lunch at one of its acclaimed restaurants.

There is an outstanding choice of restaurants in the area catering for all tastes and budgets. Choose from the haute cuisine of the Michelin starred Chateau de Montreuil and Greouilliére or one of the many fine restaurants found at the beach resort of Le Touquet.   Or, for something a little more unusual, why not try one of our rustic off- the-beaten track family run auberges (country inns) favoured by the locals.  Specialising in local cuisine you are sure to eat well, eat plenty and at low cost.
From such a choice the decision to eat in or out is often a difficult one – and that before you consider any of the small farms selling home made regional produce such as foie gras, goat’s cheese, terrines, watercress, chicory, or farmyard poultry, butter and eggs.  Look out for the Mesdames’ hand drawn signs advertising their wares: freshly made tarts, waffles and crepes – and gilding the lily – the renowned Chocolaterie at Beussent. 
The mini chocolate ‘factory’ is always happy to give visitors a guided tour with a free sample or two thrown in for good measure. We are delighted to provide all our guests with a detailed topographical map to help you track down these local delicacies.

The river Course that flows through the Vallee is justly famed for its trout and daily fishing permits can be bought at the local cafes. The unlucky or the otherwise inclined can sample this local treat at nearly all the country inns.

Those interested in buying fine wines to take back to England might like to pay a visit to one of the specialist wine merchants in Boulogne, Montreuil or Hesdin or if you wish we can arrange for a private wine tasting at the house. You choose the region and set your price limit and the merchant does the rest. The wine is then delivered to you before you leave. With the opening of the numerous wine shops in and around the giant shopping mall, Cite d’Europe near the entrance to the Tunnel you now have the opportunity to pick up wines from all over the world at bargain prices.

Whether winding along country lanes or whizzing up and down the coast on the near empty A16 autoroute La Cote d’Opale and its hinterland, Le Haut Pays, has more to offer than you could ever imagine.  From its naturally beautiful coastline to its unspoilt countryside – from its ultra smart resorts to its ancient fortified towns it is very much a region of pleasing contrasts.
To help you get the most from your stay in the area a very comprehensive guide book containing brochures and information on all the local attractions from Agincourt to wine buying has been compiled for your use. You will find it in the cottages with ordnance survey maps to take out while touring along with cycle and walking trail maps all which have been highlighted to help you discover the most picturesque routes through the countryside to our favourite places.

With so much to see and do first time holiday makers can only hope to scratch the surface and even long time devotees are always left with something more for next time.  Luckily its close proximity to England makes it easy to come again - and once discovered come again you surely will!

The adjacent coast – a scenic 20 minute drive – is favoured with over 100 kms of white sand beaches backed by sea grass covered dunes stretching from Boulogne to Fort Mahon on the borders of the Baie de Somme.
Hidden away in the hollows of the dunes you can find solitude even on a bank holiday afternoon.
At low tide the receding sea leaves behind a wide expanse of sand the offers a plentiful hunting ground for the shells and sea life washed ashore.  Rivulets form shallow pools that make ideal play areas for the kids. 
There is a huge variety of sporting activities to try from sand yachting to windsurfing.  Along the beaches at Le 2K, Ste Cecile and Hardelot your little ones can join Club Mickey and have the chance to make friends with French children for whom a holiday without membership would not be complete.    
At that age language is no barrier. Adjacent to Ste Cecile is the 500 acre nature reserve of the Baie de la Canche with horse riding and dedicated trails for cycling or walking.   You can set out alone or go with a group and a registered guide.  Also located in the Reserve is the Centre Nautique de la Canche where you can hire canoes.  More unusual are the low tide guided walks in the Baie de Somme. When the tide recedes completely from the bay at Le Crotoy the family can join a guided tour to the other side at St Valery at the other side  returning by either kayak or motor boat.

Cycles of all types can be hired at most resorts and miles of dedicated cycle lanes make for easy and safe going on the flat coastal landscape.  There is also plenty of provision for those who prefer their wheels ‘inline’ – a perfectly acceptable mode of transport as far as the French are concerned.

The coastal resorts change in character from the fashionable Le Touquet – a perennial favourite of the Parisian smart set - to the smaller and more family orientated like Hardelot or Ste Cecile.  The former a world of expensive villas set in landscaped gardens, mostly the 2nd homes of wealthy Parisians, caters to their taste:  race tracks, beauty spas, designer boutiques, superb restaurants, casinos and of course the golf courses for which it is famous. The latter, remain low key and low rise and are full of reasonably priced restaurants, cafes and shops that reflect their family status.

Although the character of the resort may change one thing remains the same -  the beautiful beaches - proudly flying their blue flags. Those who enjoy the hustle & bustle of a typical French beach scene need go no further than the crossroads where the main street meets the seafront to find all the action.  Centre stage on Le Touquet’s famous Paris Plage is the giant water complex, Aqualud. From a sun bed on its terrace surrounding its 3 outdoor pools you can keep one eye on the kids an the other out to sea.  Under its glass dome is a 500sqm wave making pool, giant Jacuzzis and the heart stopping Black Hole ride – only for the brave enough not to care!  The glass dome is open all year and is kept at a constant temperature of 29c.

The ultra smart golf courses at both HARDELOT & LE TOUQUET draw an international crowd but still manage to be cheaper than their English counterparts. Play at a different course everyday - there are more courses at Belle Dune, Nampont St. Martin, St. Omer, Lumbres, Wimereux and Ruminghem. At Montreuil s/m there is a modern sports complex with indoor swimming and tennis at moderate cost.   On the other hand if crowds are not your thing you need only head away from the centre to find all the peace and solitude you could want high up amongst the dunes – even on a Bank Holiday.

At a more leisurely pace there are the bird sanctuaries around the Baie de Somme, the historic battle sites of Agincourt and Crecy and the departure point of William the Conqueror at nautical St. Valery sur Somme – perhaps best visited today for its excellent seafood restaurants lining the tiny harbour. There are abbeys and gardens to visit and the health and beauty spas at Le Touquet and Berck sur Mer who offer a range of treatments.

Freshly caught seafood is the key ingredient of the coastal cuisine – the numerous fish shops, often attached to small restaurants, will testify to that.  Seafood lovers will find the mounds of gleaming shellfish displayed along the quayside and in the great fish halls at the busy fishing port of ETAPLES irresistible. Head for the nearest and order the biggest Plateau de Fruits des Mer for a pure taste of the sea.

There are weekly markets in most towns where farmers wives arrive early to set up their colourful and beautifully arranged stalls piled high with fruit and veg, cheese, pates and sausages.  There are bustling morning street markets on Tues. & Friday, Tuesdays in Desvres, Sat in Boulogne and of course Le Touquet’s giant street and covered market held on Mon, Thurs & Sat in the grand place - special enough to rival that of Nice.

If you can't decide between seaside or countryside for your next holiday
– come to stay in the Vallee de la Course and have both.

Please phone Marie in England for latest availability
01304 849224 day or evenings before 9:00PM .

( when I am in France please phone: 00335 46366625 )

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