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Cape Blanc-Nez

Cape Blanc-Nez is undoubtedly the gem of the Côte d’Opale, a startlingly unusual landscape in a French region too often dismissed as “the flat country”. Seen from the sea or the beach at low tide, the Blanc-Nez cliffs look like a huge white collar of chalk. They are 100 million years old, and they peak at 133m. From their top you look down on a wide expanse of “white sand” at low tide (whence the name of Wissant), technically known in French as “estran”, an originally dialect word from Normandy (compare with English, Dutch, German and Scandinavian strand). That is where black-headed gulls, herring gulls, petrels, fulmars, hawks and kestrels feed on shellfish.

Weather permitting, the panorama is gorgeous. Beyond Wissant you can see Cape Gris-Nez and the distant hills of the Boulogne area. If you turn northwards, you can make out the white cliffs of Dover (known as Pas-de-Calais here !).
If you choose to look eastwards, you can see the city of Calais and the plain of French Flanders stretching as far Dunkirk.

The green pastures and the yellow rape-fields add their warm colours to the white chalk often renewed by the ever-crumbling cliff-edge.

Cape Blanc-Nez is by far the most picturesque part of the Côte d’Opale. The cliff-edge is very brittle, and falling rocks are a constant hazard. So keep away from the cliff-edge, whether you stand on the top or walk at the base, where an additional hazard is the rising tide (you might be cut off by the incoming sea).


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