The hauts de France in the far north is not known for its haut cuisine but for foodies who love fresh fish, tasty steak frites, robust stews and stinky cheeses that bite back, fabulous bread and cakes, savoury tarts and sugary treats, there are plenty of gastronomic opportunities. There are several Michelin star restaurants in the area, many excellent places to visit which combine great food with great views and if you love food, you’ll be in good company here.
One of the best places to explore the cuisine of the north is along and around the Opal Coast, so called thanks to the incredible quality of light, loved by painters over the centuries from Turner to Renoir who holidayed there.
5 great restaurants for lunch on the Opal Coast
1. Le Channel, Calais
The chef is great (I’ve never had seafood quite as succulent as this place) producing fabulous dishes with seasonal, local produce and the onsite patisserie chef’s desserts are quite irresistible. The staff are really friendly and speak English and the view across the Channel is terrific. (Read our review)
2. Belle Epoque Hesdin
Great food, very pretty inside and outside but best of all – this has got to be one of the friendliest restaurants in the region, about 40 minutes from the Opal Coast but worth the journey….
3. La Dune Aux Loups, Le Touquet
Lovely terrace, cool, charming interior, kids welcome and great food, it’s not a huge menu but all food is fresh, seasonal and home cooked – lovely!
4. Terrasse Hardelot
When the sun shines and you sit here with your chilled wine it feels just like you’re in the south of France, great ambience, very French.
5. Le Chatillon Boulogne
For a full English breakfast (opens 04.00) or oysters (!) or a typical and authentic fresh fish food lunch/dinner, this place is famous with the locals (book in advance, it’s always packed)
Or – make your own lunch: Pack a basket with a red and white check tablecloth, head to one of the many street markets in the area and grab a fresh baguette, cheese, beer, wine, ham and find a beach or a glorious country setting and while away an hour or two just chilling out… Here’s how to make a typically French picnic anywhere.
5 Great restaurants for dinner on the Opal Coast
1. Le Pavillon at the Westminster Hotel
For a Michelin star meal and a touch of utter luxury and class, this incredible art deco time machine hotel is unbeatable. Stars and celebrities have run amok here from Noel Coward and Winston Churchill to Sean Connery. The food in Le Pavillon is fantastic, there’s no other word for it, it’s worth every centime, this isn’t just food, it’s awesome food. (Read our review of Le Pavillon)
2. Le Retour des Flobards Audresselles
Great fresh seafood, fabulous setting. Walk the meal off afterwards on the fabulous beach with its jurassic style rock pools.
3. Hotel du Parc, Hardelot
A lovely airy dining room in this pretty hotel in a tranquil setting. The food is great and it’s so relaxing, and just a few minutes from the long, golden beach.
4. Atlantic Wimereux
Gorgeous views over the beach, watch the sunset with an aperitif and a delicious dinner for a perfect night. There are two restaurants in this grand art deco hotel, upstairs is gastronomique, downstairs is bistronomique and both are outstanding.
5. L’Estaminet de l’Andouiller, Douriez
For quirky charm, ex butcher Michel Vasseur’s restaurant is quaint and authentic. There is a spit roast pig in the restaurant first and third Friday of the month with music, and this place has a lovely, old time French atmosphere. It’s about 40 minutes from the coast. (Read our review)