The rolling coastline towards
Going gourmet outside of Paris
by Jeff Fuidge
FOR many years I’ve driven the glorious, sweeping coastline
between Calais and Boulogne and have often ventured inland in
search of a cosy bed and breakfast in the beautiful countryside of
the Cote d’Opale region.
But never have I thought of Channel hopping to the area in search
of a fine dining experience or to spend a couple of nights in a
chic hotel. After all, if it’s gourmet cooking and chic you’re
after in France, surely the only place to go is Paris...isn’t
Well, no. In fact, all you need to do is take a P&O ferry armed
with a list of restaurants from the association of Cote d’Opale
Gourmande and take your pick. Proud of their cuisine and recognised
by various food guides, 16 chefs and food professionals joined
forces to promote the image of the Cote d’Opale region through its
Their association comprises 18 hotels, restaurants and local
producers between Calais in the north and Le Touquet in the south,
each using local produce and fish to create wonderful taste
experiences, while promoting the use of seasonal food.
I stayed at the chic and comfortable L’Atlantic in Wimereux as a
guest of the Delpierre family who own the hotel, beach bar and the
fine dining restaurant La Liegeoise.
Alain Delpierre runs the kitchen with his son Benjamin producing a
gourmet experience with a la carte, set menus and a tasting menu
all maintaining the Cote d’Opale Gourmande ethos of using only
seasonal and local produce and presenting it to the same high
standards you’d expect to find 166 miles further down the road in
It’s not just fine dining and hotels which are promoted by the
association. Also included in the group is a chocolatier,
cheesemaker, wine and spirits merchant and, my particular
favourite, a brewer of remarkable beer.
Christophe Noyon produces a wonderful selection of beers, from a
light white through to a treacle black beer all made from wheat and
barley grown on the family farm in Tardinghen. I never thought it
possible, but the quality of Mr Noyon’s beer has actually swayed me
and my tastebuds from the classic Belgian beers I once thought were
The Cote d’Opale has always been a draw for visitors seeking
glorious beaches like those of Wissant and Wimereux, and enjoying
the beautiful landscapes and fascinating culture, but with
excellent dining experiences within an hour of Calais, it gives you
more time to explore this fascinating part of France.
. . .and so to the greens
As well as celebrating the superb cuisine of the area my trip
included taking part in the Cote D'Opale Gourmande golf competition
and I was surprised to say the least that I would be taking part on
behalf of my countrymen and women. After all, competing in sport
for your country is something very few achieve and, in my case, I
accept I have neither the ability or determination to consider such
So, on a foggy morning French and Dutch golfers lined up at
Hardelot Golf Association’s Les Dunes course, a 45-minute drive
from Calais, against a Great Britain and Ireland team and hit their
tee shots into a curtain of mist for the honour and glory of their
I was in the penultimate pairing with the sole Ireland
representative who unknowingly was going to have his patience and
compassion severely tested in the hours to come. Finally we arrived
without injury at the 18th tee on this beautifully maintained, but
testing golf course with the score surprisingly all square.
The elevated tee gave a spectacular view of the fairway
and, with heart in mouth, I hit my drive. It was straight and
reasonably long (one of just a few that day) while my partner,
brilliant throughout, hooked his ball deep into the trees.
Eventually reappearing from the undergrowth he approached me with a
rueful smile and a rather too solid pat on my back said ‘time for
you to shine partner’.
A nervous chip fell short to leave me a long birdie putt. I hit
it short and even missed an easy tap-in for par and victory. Still
my partner smiled a rather scary smile – it was one of those which
seemed to reveal far too many teeth for my liking. Fortunately our
French opponents fluffed their putts to give us the match, which
happily turned my partner’s half smile into a full one and he was
as delighted as I was relieved.
Luckily the strain of this high-pressure environment didn’t
detract from my enjoyment of this lovely and tough course.
The following day we played without the competition and a little
more inland at the more formidable Golf de Saint-Omer, which
annually hosts one of the tournaments of the European Tour.
From my perspective as a medium handicapper, I found it far less
rewarding than Les Dunes and spent most of my time recovering from
clambering up and down the, sometimes, ridiculously precipitous
ski-slope fairways. If you enjoy a course which rewards the really
long hitter this is the one for you. But regardless of how long you
hit, I suggest you spend some extra cash and rent a
buggy. It will be money well spent because you will need
every ounce of strength you can muster if you want to tame this
particular tough old beast.
Jeff travelled courtesy of Pas De Calais Tourisme (www.uk.pas-de-calais.com)
and Golf en Côte D’Opale (www.uk.golfencotedopale.com)
For details of all the members of the Cote d’Opale Gourmonde
For more about playing golf at Hardelot see www.hardelotgolf.com
and for St Omer golf go to www.golfsaintomer.fr/
Accommodation at L’Atlantic in Wimereux starts at 140 Euros. Visit
for details. To find out more about Cote d’Opale go to www.cote-dopale.com
Short break P&O ferry crossings from Dover to Calais start at
£39, for a car with up to nine people. For times and bookings visit