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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.|
away in the hollows of the dunes you can find solitude even on a bank
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.
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.
you can't decide between seaside or countryside for your next holiday
( when I am in France please phone: 00335 46366625 )
Content & Photos provided by Marie Tarring
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