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There wasn’t much here when Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Daloz, a notary, bought 800 hectares of wild, sandy brush in 1837. He tried to farm it, but it was useless – so he gave up and planted pines and other hardy trees instead. The owner of the newspaper Le Figaro said to Daloz that Parisians might take to these shores to indulge in this newfangled concept of ‘leisure.’ And so Le Touquet was christened ‘Paris-Plage’ and the first seaside resort in the North of France was born.
Being so close to Calais – an easy 50-minute drive these days – made it a perfect destination for visitors from across the Channel and, in 1902, two enterprising English investors bought up all the available plots of land from the descendants of Daloz and built two casinos and a large number of sports facilities to make the town into a ‘sportsman’s paradise.’ Boy, did they succeed!
Le Touquet Paris-Plage not only attracted Parisians and Brits who loved tennis, golf, riding and all manner of water sports, it also attracted the who’s-who of the crème de la crème. During the Roaring Twenties, artists, visionaries and bon vivants piled on the superlatives on ‘the most elegant beach in France,’ the Garden of the Channel, also known as the Pearl of the Opal Coast. To accommodate this discerning clientele, majestic hotel-palaces were erected – each one grander than the next.
Lucky for us, we can enjoy all this hard work and the combination of excellent infrastructure, natural beauty and the touch of style that makes Le Touquet the major destination it is today. There really is something for everyone here, from the sun worshiper to the adrenaline junkie. The variety of activities on offer is outstanding. You’ll find the sports you love, plus those you never knew existed, like the salubrious longe-côte aquatic hiking. There’s everything from cycling and horse riding through every manner of water sport, and superb golfing consistently ranked among the best in France. Golf du Touquet was entirely overhauled in late 2016 and now offers a swish club-house restaurant with a panoramic view of the stunning links amid the forested dunes.
One of the great attractions is the seafood, of course, as being on the Atlantic means that the catch of the day leaps fresh every morning from boat to plate. For a special treat, perch casually on the black granite counter at Perard‘s, for the freshest, briniest oysters and seafood platter, washed down with a glass of Muscadet, and watch the well-heeled Touquetois world go by.