After a late night, several glasses of wine and far too much good food I thought it would be a good idea to go for a walk with the dogs on New Year’s Day. As luck would have it the sun was shining and the sky was blue. After what seems like weeks of daily rain and the whole region of Nord Pas de Calais suffering from inondations (floods) this was a welcome respite.
There is a 26 mile stretch of coast line in Pas de Calais called the Opal Coast – it was named that by the impressionist painters who flocked here to try to capture the wonderful quality of light, an iridescent almost bluish light, reminiscent of the opal stone.
The Opal Coast is beautiful and features cliffs, sandy beaches and beautiful bays and today we chose the town of Merlimont for our walk, with its massive sand dunes and two mile long, clear sandy shore line.
The sand dunes at Merlimont are considered amongst the finest in France and make for a wonderful walking experience. The sea is clear and clean and even on New Year’s Day there were surfers taking advantage of the waves.
This is an old fashioned bucket and spade family resort, immaculately clean and very friendly. There are plenty of restaurants, lots of sports on the beach in the summer and a few shops. For me Merlimont has a natural beauty, untouched, unspoiled, quite raw and wild in places.
In the dunes there is a huge crater which has become a lake surrounded by fauna and the views are ever changing as the sun moves round, clouds blow over and the tide goes in and out. Looking at it today I could totally understand just why those impressionist painters felt compelled to paint here and I think it even shows in the photographs – that magical quality of light.