Nestled between Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer, in the heart of the Parc Naturel des Caps et Marais d’Opale, The Land of Two Capes is rife with nature, architecture and gastronomy to enjoy… Here are 5 reasons to go now.
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
From striking coastlines to swathes of luscious meadows, the diversity of local landscapes will delight nature lovers. Several hiking trails showcase the area’s best views, such as the GR120 route from Cape Blanc Nez to Cape Gris Nez, which stretches on for a scenic 12km. The coastal territory can also be tackled en vélo, with a choice of seven bike trails. Alternatively, for a spot of water sports, head to Wissant – it’s the most popular place north of Paris for kite surfing.
In the nearby village of Tardinghen, meanwhile, protected marshland acts as a haven for wildlife, attracting migratory birds (and their avid spotters) each spring and autumn. Another place worth visiting is the River Slack Valley, not far from Ambleteuse, which offers impressive views of the quarries.
To learn more about the surrounding environment, stop by the CAPland centre in Marquise for an educational experience. It welcomes visitors from Monday to Saturday (10.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm).
HISTORY BUFF HEAVEN
Numerous periods throughout history have left their mark on the Land of Two Capes, especially World War II. A stone’s throw from the Todt Battery – a German artillery unit putting the hamlet of Haringzelle on the map – bunkers punctuate the landscape. Further inland, close to the village of Landrethun-le-Nord, there’s another eerie marvel: the Fortress of Mimoyecques. This secret base was built to accommodate Hitler’s V3 ‘supergun’, the cannon designed to bombard London, and features 600 metres of underground galleries. Here, you can get a taste of the sheer scale and strategic importance of the project; not least how challenging it was for the Allies to prevent.
South of Cape Gris Nez, there are many surviving signs of a life turned towards the sea. Professional fishing takes place in Audresselles village – where traditional flobard boats are still used – and Ambleteuse, which boasts attractive seaside resorts dating back to the early 20th century.
Fishermen also work the waters off the beaches of Wissant, a town featuring a mix of old houses and red-roofed villas. Exploring the area, visitors are sure to see plenty of charming rural features too, such as farms with stone walls and dovecotes.
DELICIOUS LOCAL FARE
La Terre des 2 Caps has long-standing culinary traditions. Naturally, seafood is the go-to choice for local folk, and so serious is this passion that there’s even a crab festival in Audresselles on the first weekend of every June. Fête du Crabe is a joyous mishmash of fresh shellfish catches, succulent crab dishes and plenty of song and dance, making it an unmissable occasion.
It’s not all about the crustaceans, however. There’s plenty of turf to complement the surf. Cheese lovers are spoilt for choice with such fromages as Sablé de Wissant, Fleur d’Audresselles and Fruité du Cap Gris Nez. Wissant strawberries, ice cream made on Bainghen farm and Moyecques pork are also an absolute must.
Then, if you’re feeling parched, wash it all down with beer brewed in Tardinghen.
Nothing quite compares to watching a summer sunset illuminate one of the area’s sandy beaches. With 17km of wild coast to roam, the Land of Two Capes is the postcard-perfect setting for an unforgettable adventure…
For more information, visit www.terredes2capstourisme.fr
From France Today magazine