The story of the chic resort
Le Touquet began in the 1830s when two French entrepreneurs bought a vast tract of wild land south of the River Canche estuary. It was meant to be an agricultural project, but when that failed, the area was planted with pipe, elm, alder and poplar trees which attracted sportsmen after hunting, shooting and fishing. One of the rich visitors, the owner of Le Figaro newspaper renamed the small town Paris-Plage in honour of the Parisians who made it their seaside holiday home. In 1882 the first two cottages were built and the town was up and running.
Then into the picture step two Englishmen, John Whitley and Allen Stoneham, who saw the vast potential the resort had for holidaying Brits. By the early 20th century, the town was growing fast with architect-designed villas springing up in the woodlands and in the center of the town. On March 28th, 1912, the resort was incorporated as a separate town and Le Touquet Paris-Plage was official.
The 1920s saw royalty and film stars, businessmen and politicians flock to the now fashionable resort. They came either to stay in their villas or at the swanky, grand Westminster Hotel. Noel Coward and P.G. Wodehouse, Winston Churchill and of course the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson all came to holiday here. The facilities were second to none: tennis, polo, horse racing and sailing for the day, and gambling in the casino for the nights.
Today the facilities are just as superb, with all-year round entertainment making Le Touquet Paris-Plage a popular destination.
A few facts
Le Palais de l’Europe Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 06 72 00
How to get there
Take the ferry from the UK. From Calais or Boulogne take the A16 to Etaples. Signs will take you to Le Touquet (45 minutes driving time from Calais, and 30 minutes from Boulogne).
Trains from Calais, Boulogne and Paris go to Etaples Station. From here take a bus or taxi for the 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) journey
From April to October, Lyddair runs scheduled weekend and weekday flights from Lydd Airport in south east Kent. In July and August there are additional flights. Flight time is 20 minutes.
Where to Stay
Alternatively, go for something more modest like the Windsor in the center of town.
Guide to Hotels in Le Touquet
Book a hotel in Le Touquet
Where to Eat
5 Ave. du Verger
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 05 48 48
Despite his very English-sounding name, William Elliott is French and a chef who should be on his way to a second star. Le Pavillon is comfortable, very much a hotel restaurant with traditional furnishings, though a couple of paintings by the Polish painter, Tamara de Lempicka add a bit of welcome pizzazz. The restaurant opens onto a garden where you can eat in good weather. But the cooking is full of surprises like shellfish in a verveine juice served in an onion, pasta with crayfish and almonds, or turbot with flavors of wasabi and rhubarb. The a la carte is predictably expensive and menus are from 55 euros to 130 euros but this is the place for a real gastronomic treat.
The second restaruant in the hotel, Les Cimaises, is styled from the 1930s and serves a more casual less expensive menu.
1 Ave. du Verger
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 05 10 22
Flavio is something of an institution in Le Touquet, with two restaurants, Le Restaurant and Le Bistro, and two bed and breakfasts. Eat at Le Restaurant for excellent fish from crayfish in spices to seabass. Le Bistro has good simple dishes from rabbit terrine or cured herring to traditional blanquette of veal and pigeon with caramelized turnips.
187 Bd Docteur Jules-Poujet
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 05 41 24
Looking out towards the sea, the Cote Sud is a firm favorite with locals. With starters such as homemade duck foie gras with liquorice fruit chutney and crunchy Dublin Bay prawns flavored with sundried tomatoes and truffled balsamic dressing followed by mains that might include beef fillet with morels, it’s easy to see why this is packed. Menus range from one dish at 11.80 euros to a tasting menu at 54 euros, and there’s a good children’s choice as well.
Restaurant le Jardin
Pl. de l’Hermitage
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 05 16 34
In the middle of Le Touquet with views over a pretty garden where you can linger over a summer lunch, this traditionally decorated restaurant is particularly strong on fish dishes. A good choice of menus from 20 euros to 50 euros and children’s menus use local ingredients.
49 rue de Paris
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 06 41
Bright and welcoming, this family run restaurant mixes Asian influences in the cooking. There’s a deli beside the restaurant, where menus run from a lunchtime 3-course choice at 12 euros or a Thai-influenced menu at 17 euros to evening choices at 28 euros. Seasonally and market led, the cooking is always fresh and interesting.
67 rue de Metz
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 34 44 72
Restaurant and shop, Perard is famous for its fish, crab and lobster soup. The place opened in 1963 and the family has never looked back. You can try the famous soup at the Oyster Bar for 7.50 to 8.50 euros, or order it from the set menus (23 to 34 euros).
Attractions and Activities in Le Touquet
There’s plenty to do in the town though most of the activities are sports related. The cultural minded should make for the Le Touquet Museum and its collection of paintings from the Etaples group of artists.
Le Palais de l’Europe
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 06 72 00