Getting away for last-minute weekend break can often feel like a mission. With school pick ups, packing the car and organising activities to keep every member of the family happy – it’s easy to not bother and stay home instead. But, the beauty of a quick getaway should really be that it is quick. Quick to organise, quick to get to and quick to settle into and lose all those Monday-Friday stresses (quickly) behind.
That’s why we want to bring to your attention Le Touquet Paris-Plage in France. Yes, France. While a getaway to France may not seem like the ‘quickest’ of breaks for a weekend we can assure you an escape to this the beautiful seaside town on the Côte d’Opale, in northern France is! Le Touquet Paris-Plage (the holiday destination of the French President no less and the preferred beach location of the late fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh) is under two hours from the UK. This makes Le Touquet the ideal destination a long weekend escape, a back to nature retreat or, even for a ‘daycation’.
Le Touquet “Paris-Plage” (Paris-Beach) was a fashionable playground to the rich and famous in the 20s and 30s – and quickly became the most fashionable resort in Europe. Today, it is still loved for its natural pine-tree forest setting, glorious sand dunes and designer shopping district. This quaint seaside town may appear to be stuck in time with its colourful beach huts and villas dating from the resort’s heyday but, it’s a hub of varied evening entertainment like casinos and activities including watersports and horse riding for all the family.
Here is the Junior lowdown on how to make the most of 48 hours in Le Touquet:
Perfect for time-poor travellers, those bound by term times or, parents who just want to make full use of those precious family weekends. Le Touquet is so easily accessible from London that travellers can visit just for the day, as the Eurostar from St. Pancras to Calais takes just 55 mins. You can drive it in 4-hrs or, for the truly indulgent go by private jet and arrive in less than an hour (yes, please1). Le Touquet is then a short 45-minute drive or taxi from Calais Frechun train station. For more information see our fact box below.
WHERE TO STAY:
For families we recommend the Novotel Thalassa Le Touquet, situated on Le Touquet’s beachfront it’s the ideal spot to explore the town and coastal paths. Recently renovated the Novotel Thalassa hotel boasts a stylish modern design combining natural materials with a contemporary finish that is slick, yet welcoming for families and small children. With access to a heated swimming pool, stunning sea views from the terrace, an onsite restaurant and lounge bar and free parking – it’s the perfect haven after a busy day exploring the town and beach. With twin rooms, double rooms with sofa beds/soft bunks – the Novotel Thalassa offers comfort, modern amenities and space for all. For more information see our fact box below.
WHAT TO DO:
Le Touquet boosts almost 300 activities from sand sailing and wake boarding, to horse riding and championship golf courses. So, there really should be any ‘I’m bored’ statements. With its ‘Family Plus’ status, Le Touquet’s family facilities are second to none. During school holidays the town offers an outstanding programme of workshops, including tennis courses at the Pierre de Coubertin Tennis Centre; horse riding lessons at The Equestrian Park; pottery and painting workshops; and even a festival just for toddlers – ‘Festival des touts petits’. Le Touquet hosts a jam-packed calendar of festivals, exhibitions, sports tournaments, concerts throughout the year, which promise to keep the whole family entertained. Plus, there is that seven kilometres of white sandy beaches to enjoy too!
For families on a quick 48 hr visit we recommend:
For Culture: The Touquet Museum
Located in the heart of the forest, the Museum of Touquet-Paris-Plage Way Side villa was built in 1925 and turned into a museum in 1932. It offers a glimpse into the traditional Anglo-Norman style of sandstone rooms decorated with woodwork and warm atmosphere. The museum houses the collections of the painters of the School of Etaples, photographic portraits of celebrities of the early twentieth century, contemporary works of art from the greatest French artists from the 1950s to 1970s, alongside new exhibitions changed throughout the year. Open every day except Tuesday. Adults: € 3.50 (Free for under 18s). Free for all: every first Sunday of the month.
For Relaxed Sightseeing: Le Petit Train Du Touquet
This small tourist train of Touquet-Paris-Plage offers a 30-minute guided tour through the sea, part of the city center, monuments, the forest and its sumptuous villas and equestrian park, making it ideal for younger visitors. Adults: € 7;Children up to 12 years old: 4 €
For Fun: Aqualud
Aqualud is the largest water amusement park in the North of France. Go wild with the water slides, aqua-rivers and twisters, or relax in the bubbly jacuzzis, deckchairs or on-site cafe. There is something to suit everyone at L’Aqualud. Aqualud is covered and heated from February to November and additional outside area open in July and August. Fees vary: Free for children under 1 meter accompanied by an adult, children’s rate: from 1 meter to 1.4 meters and Adult price: adult or child over 1.40 meters
GOOD TO KNOW: On the beachfront you will also find many attractions suitable for young children including a vintage carousel and various play park situated near beach front bars and cafes.
For adventure seekers: La Baleine Royale
Get around and see the nature beauty of Le Touquet by hiring a bike (or electric bike) and follow the recommended cycle routes. Even just a steady family cycle through the protected sand dunes, taking in the sea air is enough to make you feel like you’ve had a week away rather than just a weekend.
WHAT TO SEE:
A family resort at heart, Le Touquet is more than just a beautiful beach. Visit the infamous pine forest (great for long walks and cycling), evening bars and casinos (if you manage to have a babysitter with you) and a bustling town centre on the rue Saint Jean with local, designer and out-of-this world foodie shops that are open year round to the delight of visitors.
On the subject of shops pop into the most famous chocolatier shop – since 1912 Au Chat Bleu has been selling a vast array of traditional sweets; A wonderful, tins all lined up in rows sardine and fish haven at Conserverie La Belle Iloise; For chic and stylish French children labels, toys and gifts visit Petit Cube; and for regional home-made biscuits and savoury treats visit The Manufacture du Touquet. You can also see produce being hand made on the premises.
Do also try and visit The Lighthouse Canche. This architectural jewel of 57 meters was designed by Louis Quételart in 1947 and is worth the winding 274 steps (not permitted for children under 6) to the top to see the breathtaking views of the resort, forest and beach. A guide will also tell you the story of the two old fires through an exhibition in the former home of the lighthouse keeper. Priced: 5 € for Adults; 3 € for children (6-12 yrs) and 13 € for a family pass (2 adults-2children). Its open Tuesday to Sunday at appointed times throughout the day. Private visits and group outings also available.
WHERE TO EAT:
Le Touquet’s gastronomic offerings are well known. This little town boosts over 80 restaurants where you can indulge in some of the finest food and wine in the region.
For breakfast and brunch: Opaline (salon de the) – 43 avenue du Verger
Freshly renovated, this pretty house welcomes you in a very elegant setting where refinement and good cooking go hand in hand. The Opaline tea room is a cosy pit-stop for tasty breakfast pastries, bread, tea but, also try it’s famous jams. Open Wednesday to Friday are 8:30 to 18:00
For Lunch, Sunday Lunch and early suppers: Pérard – 67 rue de Metz
This renowned restaurant for more than 50 years, is where you can sample delicious local fresh fish and oysters. Unmissable, on the main street of rue de Metz in the city centre ( do book to secure a table as its always busy) Pérnard has a warm and inviting atmosphere and its original 60’s decor. On the menu you will find the all-you-can-eat fish soup, fresh fish platters and the Plat du Jour set menus which are a steal at less than 30€ – and amazing to boot. Kids menu also available. Open 7 days a week from noon to 2:30 pm and from 7 pm to 9:30 pm except Friday & Saturday evenings until 10:30 pm.
For Lunch: Maison Mer – Novotel Thalassa
A gourmet kitchen serving seafood before a breathtaking seafront panorama. A menu with food organized by cooking method that focuses on the ingredients and their benefits. Open daily for lunch noon – 2.30pm, and dinner 7pm-10pm.
For Dinner: Les 2 Moineaux – 12 rue Saint Jean
A restaurant that is actually to easy to miss – as it perched above a gift shop on the main shopping road – and, that would be a terrible shame. As this romantic, burrow-style restaurant – which translates the The 2 Sparrows – is a true gem. From the warm and inviting welcome from owner Aline, fresh, seasonal food cooked with gusto by Head chef Joris and the cosy interior you may never want to leave. Especially after a truly home cooked meal (which every day is priced at 39 € and 45 €) that you will remember way after the weekend ends. In fact we say you will be booking your next visit to Le Touquet just to eat here again. Yes, its that good. Opening hours: 12h-14h and 19h-22h; Closed Monday all day, Tuesday noon and Wednesday noon.
For Drinks/Desserts: Café des Sports – 22 rue Saint Jean
The oldest restaurant in town, since 1911 Les Sports offers all year round specialties.We recommend the classic crepe Suzette and a visit to ‘Le VIP’ a cocktail and wine bar with no less than 48 wines by the glass – just perfect sipped on the roof terrace. Open 7/7 from 7am to 2am on weekdays, and until 4am for Friday and Saturday. Indeed, from 2am on weekends, the restaurant is transformed into a dancing bar until 4am!
For ice-cream/Crepes: Aux Mignardises – 20 rue Saint Jean