The northern regions of France are often forgotten when summer holiday-makers develop their elaborate plans and itineraries. However, the truth is that the best beaches in Northern France can hold their own against many other contenders in Europe.
While often susceptible to the unpredictable whims of tides, these lovely sandy havens simply beg a visit, many of them unique in their own way and capable of attracting all kinds of tourists. Find out if they’re calling out to you as well, and get packing. These gems of France’s northern coast should definitely be a part of your vacation list.
For a town steeped in history and culture, Berck-sur-Mer can sure stun with the beauty of its surrounding area. Besides being able to charm many a purveyor of fine arts, looking to get a taste of the famous “Berck School” of painters who thrived in the 19th century, this quaint northern commune also attracts beachgoers and families alike.
Located in an ornithological nature reserve known as the Marquenterre regional park, Berck-sur-Mer boasts an incredible sandy beach that can host an entire country during summer months. The beach carries on unbroken for miles up north, reaching as far as Le Touquet. Only a couple of stray beach cafes dot the never-ending beach. Few other places can boast such an air of remoteness, perfect for a quiet summer getaway.
If not for River Canche interrupting it near Le Touquet, it could be said that Equihen-Plage and the aforementioned Berck-sur-Mer comprise one huge stretch of sand.
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Alas, the two are broken up, but the similarities are all there. Equihen-Plage is, in a similar vein to its predecessor, a long and wide sandy beach just right for a perfect beach holiday. There’s so much space that it could never be said that it’s overcrowded, at least not until the high tide rolls in. When this happens, beachgoers usually huddle around the edges of rolling green hills that provide a breathtaking backdrop to an already stunning location. Go just a bit farther up north and you’ll get to the end of this infinitely long beach, expanding all the way from Berck-sur-Mer.
Baie d’Audierne, Brittany
On the north-western edge of France lies Baie d’Audierne in Brittany. Words fall short in describing this place in all its light, and there’s no better way to experience it than to just head on out there and revel in the beauty of one of the best beaches in Northern France.
It’s not just the warm, comfortable sand underneath your feet that’s rendered this place so incredibly stunning. Color of the sand matches that of surrounding sand dunes and low shrubbery, making Baie d’Audierne shimmer as if it were made of gold. If for whatever reason, you decide to do something else, there will be too many natural features to help you get your fill. From marshlands and cliffs to ridges and the magnificent Goyen tidal river, this place deserves all the recommendations it gets.
Probably the most picturesque entrant on our list of best beaches in Northern France, Audresselles is a small commune whose rich history stretches back to the 12th century.
While most beachgoers won’t care much about the charms of small coastal towns and its white houses adorned with red shingles, with endless farmlands expanding in the background for as far as the eye can see. But to have this little town’s appeal wasted on someone simply due to its staggering beach is not unheard of. Much like the rest of the beaches in the region of France, its width is often affected by tides, which sometimes leave too much seaweed behind and mar its beauty some.
Le Touquet Paris-Plage, Hauts-de-France
Perhaps you remember Le Touquet from our stories of the infinitely long beach that encompasses several Northern France beach towns.
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It would seem superfluous to revisit this sandy expanse once again, but Le Touquet is, after all, a story in itself. Not only does it have all of the aforementioned charms of this end of Hauts-de-France, but also known as Pas-de-Calais, but it also boasts a more entertaining setting for the younger crowd. Once you set foot in Le Touquet and hear the music blaring from the many pubs, nightclubs, and casinos, you’ll hardly wish for a more adventurous vacation. On top of that, you can also enjoy the benefits of having so many water sports to choose from while here.
Plage de Meneham, Brittany
Meneham is a tiny village barely worth mentioning – at least until you’ve seen its magical beach for the first time.
While most of the beaches in Hauts-de-France pride themselves on miles of undisturbed sand, so soft and gentle to the feet, and wide as they get, Meneham offers a different kind of experience. Instead of almost spotless beaches, this lovely little town has a truly spectacular sight large rocks protruding from both the beach and the water. The beach itself is sandy, mind you. There are no pebbles to spoil the softness, just these large jagged rocks that give it somewhat of a dangerous look.
Hidden from luxurious cities lies a small but cozy town with one of the most alluring beaches of northern France, called Merlimont. The central beach of Merlimont belongs to the Hauts-de-France region.
This beach is mostly suitable for sand lovers and people with children because it offers a wide variety of water sports. Most importantly, you needn’t worry about safety, since it is supervised by lifeguards the whole summer season and even during the weekends in May. Therefore, this little piece of heaven offers you not only safety and relaxation on sand but there is a bar with the terrace on the beach where you can find your refreshments. During the low tide, you can find marvelous shells or you can bring a bucket from home and go fishing.
Cap Gris-Nez, Hauts-de-France
Technically speaking, the beach is the smallest part of Cap Gris-Nez, but definitely a beautiful one. Warm sand awaits those adventurous enough to traverse the cliffs surrounding the beach.
At this beach, you’ll be able to enjoy the sight of the sea in front of you, and rising hills all around you that provide a sea view unmatched on French Riviera. It’s one of the reasons why many visitors to this gorgeous piece of land actually go ahead and undertake exploratory missions that take them away from the beach and into the rocky surrounding areas. Moreover, it’s the closest you’ll get to Britain from mainland Europe, so you’ll also earn a new traveler achievement by visiting Cap Gris-Nez.
St Cecile Plage, Hauts-de-France
Just as appealing as any other prominent European beach, St Cecile Plage is a huge stretch of sand that’s so enormous that you’ll rarely have to come within 10 feet of any other beachgoer.
Looming beyond the beach are hotels and apartments where tourists can settle down before heading out to one of the most expansive beaches in all of Northern France. Similarly to some other places on our list, it’s got small sand dunes decorating the surroundings of the beach, perfect for families and groups of friends.
Wissant a charming little fishing town lies in the Hauts-de-France region. The divine sandy beach attracts lots of tourists who come here not only to enjoy the divinity of the beach but to enjoy the nature that surrounds the town as well.
During the summer, there are many sports one can explore, like kite surfing and sailing which are the main attraction here. Besides sports, you can find a couple of bars with terrific seafood and exquisite wine diversity. While having a glass of your favorite wine in your hand and cooling off near the sea on the hot summer day, you can spot “le flobarts” – famous traditional fishing boats.
Beautiful beaches dot the landscape of France’s northern coast and beckon the travelers to come and bask in the summer sun. Depending on how much time you have available, you might not be able to do a full tour of the places from our list, but try and see all of the major regions of the north: Brittany, Normandy, and Hauts-de-France.