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This vast region on the coast of the English Channel was the first to introduce the seaside resorts much loved by the French.
Traversed by winding trails scented with the aromas of thyme and oregano, the Côte d’Opale – “Opal Coast” – is known for its diaphanous light, the muted glow that gave rise to its name. Along the shore near Berck, Le Touquet and Boulogne sur Mer, the outlines of the land and the horizon merge in a tableau of pastels and halftones. In this constantly shifting landscape of dunes and estuaries, burnished by the tides, the cliffs stand as enduring landmarks. Cap Gris Nez, a massive sandstone promontory and the closest point in France to the English coast, overlooks one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. Beyond the cape, water and earth resume their eternal rivalry in the Audomarois marshes, a peaceful refuge for some 200 species of aquatic birds.
The region’s foremost ambassadresses have large gentle eyes and coats in cream, sandy beige or nearly black. Normandy owes much to its cows. They offer us a thick, exquisite cream, a butter of legendary smoothness and cheeses whose unique qualities have made them world-famous. Throughout the countryside, they add mobile splashes of contrast to the pastures that give the region its distinctive color: the deep green that characterizes a rich terroir. The half-timbered cottages here still have their thatched roofs, farmyards that look like a scene from a children’s book, and apple presses for making artisanal cider.