“If I lived in France, I would come here every day” says eight year old Lexie with a massive grin as she completes the children’s course at Opal Aventure near Calais. We’re at the tree top, adventure course park in Sainte-Cecile, a seaside town on the Opal Coast, Hauts de France.
Think Swallows and Amazons meets Tarzan and you’ll get the idea. But, it’s not just for kids. This is a fun adventure playground for the whole family. Zip wires, climbing frames, bridges through the forest, even a bike ride through the branches of scented Pine trees. “It’s a bit like Go Ape” says Lexie “but it’s better and it’s French!”.
Adventure for the whole family
Charles Renaux, one of eight instructors who all speak perfect English, tells me “the youngest visitor to enjoy a course here was less than a year old and the oldest was 78”.
There’s a highly supervised baby course, kids course, family course, adult course and even one for the more athletic amongst us who like a challenge.
“It teaches confidence and logic” he says “as well as being huge fun of course. The kids’ faces when they complete the course are a real picture. Sometimes we have to help them a bit, rescue them if they get a little stuck and when we help them overcome their worry and succeed, we’re so happy”.
Lexie tackles the kids’ course; she’s the only Brit today and is joined by five French kids. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t speak French – laughing is the same in every language. In minutes they’re bonding and whooping as they climb, they complete the course accompanied by Charles the whole way and then zoom to the bottom via the zip wire ride.
“She’s good” says Charles of Lexie who beams.“If mummy wants to go with her, she can do the family course. Or you can go and do the adult course and she can stay here and we will look after her at this course and she can do it as much as she likes while you go and enjoy yourself”.
Mummy isn’t at all sure about this, not being of the Tarzan and Jane mind-set, but a pleading face convinces her to try the family course. Charles takes us through the safety precautions, checks our harnesses and leaves us to it.
On this course everything is a bit higher up, more of a challenge, longer zip wire rides and, says Lexie “it’s brilliant”. At times she streaks ahead, then she waits for mummy who isn’t sure this is a good idea and isn’t keen on heights, but absolutely loves the team work they’re having to work at.
“Total Wipeout” shrieks Lexie laughing gleefully as she glides down the final zip wire followed by team mate Mummy.
This is like parkour, the free running craze, but for everyone. The courses are imaginative, exciting, exhilarating and doing this definitely channels your inner adventurer.
Find out more at Opal Aventure
You’ll find it about 30 minutes from Calais on the Hardelot route, a pretty, authentic seaside town with a chateau and loads to do when you want to relax and sight-see after your Opal Aventure visit!