Since backpacking over 4 years ago, I don’t get to travel as much as I used to. While I could blame a mortgage and my full-time job tying me down, travel is one of the reasons I love my job. I get to talk about it, think about it and, sometimes, do it.
There’s been a few work trips I’ve skipped the opportunity to share on here, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I should let my work and blog mix. But some places, and some adventures, are too good not to share and Le Touquet is one of them.
Located in northern France, it wasn’t somewhere I had heard of before starting my job. (So it’s still quite a hidden gem, probably to people my age.) It was its full name that began to entice me; Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, Paris by the sea. (Paris by the sea?!) ?
What to do in Le Touquet
My one and only time in Le Touquet isn’t going to be the ultimate guide to the town. (Hopefully I can build up to that over a few visits!) I had a pretty awesome day though and I wanted to share a few of things I did. (Despite it being late by a few months now!)
Although it’s called Paris by the sea, it doesn’t compare in size to the capital and getting around is easy; especially on two wheels. And hey, bike tours are nothing to be sniffed at! There’s even a celebrity pull to going on a bike tour here as Emmanuel Macron done the same thing in the same town. (Possibly not when he was president, though…)
Emmanuel Macron is no stranger to Le Touquet either, his wife, Brigitte, in fact owns her own apartment here. (!)
What to see in Le Touquet
Much of Le Touquet was built in the 1920’s (from what I remember of the bike tour) and that jazz/golden age vibe still survives today, which means art deco architecture can be found everywhere.
The Westminster Hotel (Hôtel Barrière Le Westminster) is a marvel of the era and again attracted some notable guests. Including; Winston Churchill, Sean Connery, Ian Fleming, Edith Piaf and Mae West.
I lucked out in getting to stay here (it’s quite luxurious and I doubt my travel expenses would cover it) but staff were happy for us to have a little look around. If I were to come back to Le Touquet then pretending to be a guest by having a drink at the bar, or dinner in the restaurant, would definitely be on my list. (It feels very Great Gatsby!)
Although I didn’t get time on my day out, Le Touquet’s lighthouse is also said to be worth a trip. Not far from the hotel (oddly it’s not bang on the coast), the views from the top are supposed to be the best in town, reaching out to see the surrounding countryside on clear days too. And so, continuing on my imaginary return trip to Le Touquet, I’d also take a slower paced tour around the villas close to here. (As I cycled past them pretty quick on the bike tour!)
Surprisingly, some of the most expensive property in the country can be found in Le Touquet. Of course the south of France would have some eye watering contenders, but what makes these villas special is again their 1920’s flair, built and even named uniquely. It wasn’t until recently that some of these villas were given numbers. (Just imagine if you were the postie here!)
Where to eat in Le Touquet
Le Touquet is also a culinary hotspot in France – again, a fact not many Brits are aware of. It might be thanks to the many aspiring chefs who come to the town to study their expertise, which creates a larger than average group of chefs in the town’s population!
Sadly though I was only here for a day, and there’s only so much you can eat in one day. For a work lunch (or any lunch) however I can recommend BYS’ Restaurant/Bar. Located on the bay of Canche, the sun and tide were out providing stunning views, picture taking predictably ensued, before we settled into this warm and rustic restaurant.
Clearly loved by locals, we bagged one of the last remaining tables and sat down to study the menus (putting my French to the test!). Feeling very relaxing and particularly snug with an open fireplace, it still had a sophisticated ambiance. I ordered the steak frites, because, when in France… but there was also a great choice of seafood.
All of this chat about Le Touquet and no mention of its beach? Sadly, again my excuse is that I cannot take photos the same time as cycling. We didn’t stop off for long but I can vouch for any opinion to those who praise its seafront. A long (7km) and wide sandy beach, it’s decorated with rainbow coloured beach huts that again create a vintage French elegance. (No wonder Le Touquet is so popular in the summer!)
Just an hour’s drive from Calais, I am making it my goal to not let this be my only visit this year (plus there’s more things what to do in Le Touquet than I had time to fit in). It felt like the perfect day (for a day in March!) and I left Le Touquet with dreams of winning the lottery to buy one of its unique villas I cycled past just hours ago…