Places to visit

Seaside holidays

For most of history - in France as everywhere else - holidays were mainly for the rich and aristocrats.

In the middle of the 19th century, steam railways made travel faster, cheaper and easier for more people. Taking seaside holidays became fashionable for the growing "middle classes".

Certain places became particularly fashionable. Le Touquet mushroomed as "Paris by the sea" - attracting many wealthy British visitors as well as the French to the northern coast. Speculators built luxury hotels, sea-bathing facilities, and evening entertainments such as casinos and fine restaurants.

Other resorts like Hardelot were developed by individual speculators, seeking to echo this success.

Hardelot before World War 1: bathing machines;

bathing costumes

Hardelot: architects have deliberately kept a similar style for the large seaside villas built for wealthy visitors
Golf - yesterday and today
Hardelot: Louis Bleriot (1st solo cross-channel flier) became a director of the company developing Hardelot; early land-yacht - looks heavy and cumbersome compared with today's stripped-down version.

Modern changes
Despite the growth in air travel and package holidays, French people are still today more likely to take their holidays in France than abroad. Each August many of the big cities in France are still quiet and half-empty as their inhabitants flee to the seaside or country for camping and hotel holidays.

Most of the North's coast remains beautifully natural and unpoilt. But its few "traditional" seaside resorts have not declined in the same way as those in Kent. The coastal areas of Nord/Pas-de-Calais are very busy in summer - helped by official tourism initiatives like the "KID-Stations" - child-friendly resorts.


Places to visit:
Le Touquet

Related background information
KID stations




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