I love to visit the Opal Coast at any time of the year; the constantly changing face of the glorious countryside, the view of the White Cliffs of Dover a mere 21 miles across the English Channel, picturesque towns and villages are always quite wonderful. The route from Calais to Boulogne-sur-mer along the D940 coastal road is one of the best scenic route drives I know…
Early in June I dropped in on the Fete du Crabe, the festival of the crab, at the little fishing village of Audresselles on the Opal Coast. A mere 20 minutes’ drive from the huge port of Calais, this little town on the coastal road of the D940 is like a secret little fishing village that time has passed by. The fields along this route were lined with deep red poppies, with the blue sea as a backdrop they were stunning.
There are many fishermen and women in the town; many of them fish for crab and shell fish by hand or from the old traditional boats of the area known as flobards. In fact you’ll see flobards everywhere you look, in front gardens, being pulled up on the beach by ancient tractors or even parked in the road like a car!
The fish are sold from the garages and huts of local homes. Those in the know in this area will visit in the afternoon when the haul of the day has been bought in, cleaned, prepared and ready to buy and take home – fresh from the sea.
The village with its pretty fishermen’s cottages, fine restaurants – of course selling fish – and little winding streets is lovely.
In fact all along this coastal road you’ll come across picturesque villages and towns where you can buy fresh fish for the homes of those who go out and catch them each day – just look for the signs!
On a clear day the views across the English Channel to the White Cliffs of Dover just 21 miles away look so close you’ll think you can swim there! One of the best ways to see them is from 50m up in the air standing next to Napoleon. The Colonne de la Grande Armée at Wimille is open to the public for much of the year (see details via their website below). On this spot Napoloeon issued the very first Legion d’Honneur medals in 1804. Climb the 263 steps and you’ll be rewarded with the most amazing views over the surrounding beautiful countryside and coast and a clear sight of the UK!
If you’ve no head for heights check out the little museum at the base of the Column which is full of fascinating documents, medals and the original Napoleon statue which was damaged by bombs in WWII.
This road is not long and if you put your foot down and drive straight along from Calais to Boulogne it won’t take much more than 30 minutes. However, I guarantee you’ll want to stop along the way so allow up to a day to see it all, have a fabulous lunch and enjoy the views.
Read more about the Audresselles Crab Festival
Read more about the Opal Coast and Nord-Pas de Calais
Details for Napoleon’s Column Boulogne