Opal Coast, a coastline renown for its soft light

Opal-Coast-sandy-beach

The opal colour

The Opal Coast takes its name after the stone.

The opal is indeed known for its opalescence, fluorescence and iridescence that produce a unique pearly luster.

Monet, Manet and Boudin to name a few, were seduced by the soft opal light created by the reflection of the chalk cliffs and sand dunes.

So was the writer and painter from Le Touquet, Edouard Lévêque!

In February 1911, he therefore named Côte d’Opale the coastal region that spreads from Equihen-Plage, south of Boulogne-sur-mer, to Le Crotoy in the Baie de Somme!

Opal Coast boundaries

The appellation Opal Coast was extended to the 120kms long coastline stretching from Dunkerque, near the Belgian border, to Mers-les-Bains, at the mouth of the Bresle.

These geographical boundaries, however, are subject to controversy, as some include the inland towns.

The section of the Opal Coast situated north of Dunkerque is also known as the Dunes de Flandres, or Côtes des Dunes de Flandres.

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Dunes near Le Touquet

Boulogne-sur-mer is considered the capital of the Opal Coast, and the trendy Le Touquet-Paris-Plage known as the Pearl of the Opal Coast.

The Opal Coast boasts a series of sand and pebble beaches, dunes, marshes, river estuaries and white chalk cliffs.

This littoral is worldwide known for its impressive chalk cliffs.

Located between Calais and Boulogne, they are similar to the White cliffs of Dover.

The 132m high Cap Blanc-Nez is located in Escalles, about 10kms south of Calais.

The 49m high Cap-Gris-Nez is the French land that is the closest to the coast of England.

It is located 15km north of Boulogne-sur-mer.

Opal Coast’s rankings

The ‘Site des Deux Caps’ was listed as incontournable site de la Côte d’Opale – essential site of the Opal Coast in 1987.

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South of Le Touquet

It was then listed as a Grand Site de France in 2011.

The inland coastline is a marshy area that boasts a wide variety of landscapes and natural habitats.

The Réserve Naturelle de la Baie de Canche and Baie d’Authie, are among the several natural reserves created along the Côte d’Opale.

The Opal Coast is a few hours from Paris by car or train.

It is therefore a highly popular weekend and holiday destination with Parisians.

This coastal region enjoys mild winters and cool summers, typical of an oceanic climate.

An ideal place for those who want to escape the crowded and blazing hot beaches of the French Riviera!

Coordinates Le Touquet: Lat 50.521276 – Long 1.590675

Photo via Wikimedia Creative Commons: South of Le Touquet by Pir6mon is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0