Places to visit | Background information


Regional Nature Park:
Opale Coast coastal park

Hills: Mont Pele nr. Desvres. Ride through leafy lanes in a cart pulled by Boulonnais horses
 Coast: sandy beach with Cap Blanc Nez in the background
Clifftop walks with spectacular views across the channel

Quiet hills and miles of beaches
Riding on a cart drawn by famous Boulonnais horses, you see the countryside of the Boulonnais nature park at a peaceful pace.

The park contains beautiful downland hills and valleys, and a spectacular natural coastline with miles of cliffs, wide sandy beaches, sand-dunes and marshes. There are a variety of reserves preserving valuable habitats and their wildlife.
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Exploring the nature park
The new park is developing exciting new ways to explore the charms of this little-known area: walks, cycle paths, horse-riding trails and interpretation centres, with information about what to see.

Cap Gris-Nez, a bird-watchers paradise
The cliffs on the French Channel coast, less than 30 km from England, lie opposite Dungeness. Here you have an ideal vantage point to watch seabirds, particularly in autumn when the flocks from Northern Europe and Siberia migrate towards the Atlantic over the Channel and the North Sea.

Gannets, sterns, skuas, puffins as well as wading birds large and small, sea ducks and penguins fly past the Cap from mid-August to mid-November. Later, at the first signs of approaching cold in the North, you can spot the loons, geese and ducks as they flee to the warm south.
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Old industries
Large areas of today's park were once heavily exploited by coal mines, chalk and marble quarries, cement works - now commemorated in La Maison du Marbre near Marquise.

Heritage of traditional farming
Farming, too followed the logic of the local geology: mainly clay soils and the hilly landscape help to retain the moisture needed for good grazing.

This is an area of dairy farming, and a few farmers are now reviving traditional arts of cheese-making.

Marble quarries near Marquise

Lush dairy farming country - fields surrounded by old hedges with lots of patches of woodland.

Fields were traditionally enclosed with hedges to keep the stock from wandering - first by monks who cleared the old forests leaving small woods and developing the craft of weaving dense hedges from woodland saplings.

When this area became French from the 16th century, royal edicts allowed farmers and landowners to enclose more fields, with the planting of new hedgerows. Now the Park runs a tour (starting from Desvres) across the heart of the Boulonnais "copse land" past typical sheltered 17th century manors and whitewashed farmhouses.

For over a century, flavoursome strawberries have been cultivated on the warmer sandy soils around Samer, where you buy them fresh May-August, or take away delicious fruit-packed jams.
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Cheese-making on the farm at Wierre-Effroy. Farm-bottles cider. Sausages made from local foie-gras from specially-fattened geese; strawberries from Samer.

"A Stroll through the Nature Park" - illustrated booklet to download

 A Stroll through the Nature Park" - illustrated booklet to download
© Copyright Parc naturel régional des Caps et Marais Opale
This page features the coast between Calais and Boulogne, where the Park has worked hard to protect the environment and wildlife, and to improve access for everyone, with footpaths and cycle routes, as well as information- just one of 16 pages in the booklet.

The Park has produced this lovely booklet of sketches and notes by the talented artist Michel Kokot. With handwritten notes in English, he takes you on a stroll through the varied natural, cultural and scenic heritage of the Regional Nature Park. You'll see just how much there is to explore.

Kokot vividly captures the landscapes of the Park: the mists over the marshes, the chalk valleys of the rivers Aa and Hem, the wooded countryside around Boulogne region, and the magnificent coast…

Download free booklet from:
...or see more Park publications here:

Weblink: - has English version

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Location: Maison du Parc, Manoir du Huisbois, Le Wast, 62142 COLEMBERT

Information/ reservations:
Tel: 00 33 3 21 83 38 79 - Fax: 00 33 3 21 83 56 22

Background information
Bike rides - leisure cycling: safe routes, off-road trails, signed circular routes on quiet roads, bikes on trains
Sports & outdoor leisure facilities
Horses & horse-riding - where to arrange horse rides and horse-drawn cart tours

Other nature parks:
Adomarois - near Saint-Omer
Parc Val Joly - Avenois Nature Park, near Avesnes
Saint-Amand - Nature Park

Exploring farm-producers in the park:
La Fromagerie Sainte Godeleine, Ferme du Vert, WIERRE-EFFROY. Tel: 00 33 3 21 87 00 97
Foie-gras sausages: M. Fernand CANLER, Ferme du puits du Sart, 62132 HERMELINGHEM. Tel: 00 33 3 21 85 00 79
Farm cider: M. Alain et Nicolas LEDUC, rue du Wint, 62240 BRUNEMBERT. Tel: 00 33 3 21 32 30 67
Strawberries: M. Hervé DELATTRE, 35 hameau de Beaucorroy, 62830 DOUDEAUVILLE. Tel: 00 33 3 21 83 00 27

Places to visit in the park:
La Gosse Lemonade factory - traditional fizzy drinks from natural ingredients, Hardinghen
La Maison du Marbre, Marquis - geology, history of quarries
La Maison de la Faïence - pottery museum, Desvres
Mill Museum, Wissant - preserved watermill
St.Joseph's Craft Village - recreated village buildings & crafts, Guînes
Transmanche Museum - history of crossing the channel
Coastal footpath - long-distance path around the coast to Berck via Dunkerque - Calais- Boulogne
Club Nautique, Wimereux - great sailing school
Aréna - Sand dunes study centre nr. Hardelot



'Entre deux caps'

La Maison du Marbre © Copyright 1999-2001 Invicta Media. Last updated 23rd August 2001