Opal Coast Travel Guide

Beautiful beaches, historical towns and fabulous food, welcome to the 'Côte d'Opale' .

Opal Coast France school trip destination guide

An introduction to the Opal Coast

The shortest channel sea crossing delivers you to Calais, in the heart of The 'Côte d'Opale'. This proximity means reduced journey time and consequentially is very appealing for Party Leaders looking for a school trip that gives students as much time as possible on the ground.

The 120km of coast between Belgium and Picardy was named by the artist Édouard Lévêque who in 1911 described the distinctive quality of its light - Opal. It is a beautiful stretch of coast, dominated in parts by huge white cliffs mirroring Dover, but there the similarity ends.

Boulogne-sur-Mer is a vibrant modern city that harbours some wonderful history including the UNESCO recognised 12th century Belfry. Le Touquet is an enigma, luxury hotels are in abundance to cater for holidaying Parisians (its official name is 'Le Touquet Paris Plage') but beautiful beaches and dunes give the town a more windswept feel - avoid the Enduro motocross event in February when 250,000 people descend on the town. School trips to the Opal Coast are best enjoyed staying at the Voyager owned 3* Hotel du Moulin aux Draps!

All visits are covered by our externally verified Safety Management System and are pre-paid when applicable. Prices and opening times are accurate as of May 2018 and are subject to change and availability. Booking fees may apply to services provided by Voyager School Travel when paid on site.

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History

WWI Somme Battlefields

The Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park is one of the most moving and popular World War I Battlefield destinations. 20,000 men were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and one million casualties in total on both sides were killed at the infamous site. The grounds of the battlefield have been left mostly untouched since the end of the war. As well as remnants of the trenches there are war graves and memorials to different divisions for your students to explore.

Arras

The World War I Battle of Arras claimed 159,000 lives in just 39 days, which is more than the amount of people who died per day at the Somme (2,943). In the area there are war cemeteries, memorials and museums to visit. It’s also possible to book a tour of the Wellington Quarry secret tunnels beneath the town of Arras that were dug out and used by British troops to launch an attack against the Germans.
explorearras.com

Price Wellington Quarry Tunnel Tour £4
Opening times Every 10/20 minutes

Vimy Ridge

Regarded as one of the most strategically important battles of the entire war, Vimy Ridge was an elevated vantage point upon which the Germans dug in and fortified their position heavily. The allies tried and failed on numerous occasions to assault and take the ridge costing 150,000 lives between May and November 1915. Visitors can see the preserved trenches and view artefacts and photographs from the battlefield at the ‘Interpretative Centre’.
veterans.gc.ca

Price Free guided tours of the tunnels are available on a first come first served basis

La Coupole Museum and Planetarium

La Coupole is a gigantic concrete bunker located where the secret launch site was planned for the V1 and V2 rockets, Hitler’s deadly weapons against the British. Today it is an impressive World War II museum that that uses multi-media interaction in order to tell the story of the war in an accessible and informative way. There is also a brand new 3D planetarium which gives your students a unique trip through the universe.
lacoupole-france.co.uk

Price History centre £5
Planetarium £5
Opening times Year round: 09:00 - 18:00
Jul - Aug: 10:00 - 19:00

Forteresse dec Mimoyecques

Underground base built by the Germans during WW2, they planned to launch a V3 rocket from there, it is a very impressive system of tunnels. The site is only open half the year from April to October and the rest of the year is natural hibernation place for bats!
mimoyecques.fr

Price Admission £4.50
Guided tour £6
Opening times Tours every 10/20 minutes

Todt Battery

A WW2 bunker turned into a museum, you will see there an incredible amount of artefacts from WW2, many types of ammunition, machines, equipment were made there and the bunker itself is one of the biggest buildings built by the German forces.
batterietodt.com

Price £4.50
Opening times Apr - Sept
Closed Monday mornings

Thiepval Memorial

Designed by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens, The Thiepval “Memorial to the Missing” is the largest British war memorial in the world. Dedicated to the 73,357 British and South African men who have no known grave and who died at the Somme between July 1916 and March 1918, it represents war's true horror. The cemetery behind the memorial is unusual because it contains the remains of both French and British soldiers to commemorate the Anglo-French alliance at the Somme. A visitor centre was opened in Thiepval in 2004.
cwgc.org

Lochnagar Crater

The crater is the largest man-made crater on the Western Front. Created in 1916 by the British army, the Lochnagar Crater has a diameter of 91 metres and a depth of 21 metres. When it was blown, the explosion could be felt as far away as London. Today it is a peaceful memorial which attracts about 75,000 visitors a year.

Somme 1916 Museum

The museum at Albert is located in tunnels 10 metres below the ground. Originally built in the Middle Ages, the tunnels were used as an air raid shelter in the war. Today, the museum gives a fascinating glimpse of what it was like to live in the trenches in 1916. Interesting artefacts and a truly unique setting make this an experience your students will not forget.
musee-somme-1916.eu

Price £4 + £50 per group guide
Opening times 09.00 to 18.00 daily 1 Feb - Dec

Musée Historique de la 2ème Guerre Mondiale

Museum dedicated to WW2 history and the local area. They provide worksheets for children as part of the visit.
musee3945.com

Price £5
Opening times Mar - Nov: 10:00 - 18:00
Jul - Aug: 10:00 - 19:00
Closed Dec - Feb

Historial de la Grande Guerre

The Historial de la Grande Guerre museum is set in a modified castle and aims to show visitors what life was like for different nationalities during World War I. Walk-through exhibitions, film footage, photographs, wartime ephemera and everyday articles, including recently unearthed artefacts from the battlefields, help to bring the past alive. Look out for some of the innovatively displayed artefacts which have been embedded into the floor.
historial.org

Price Temporary exhibitions free
Permanent collections
Thiepval £3
Peronne £4
Combined ticket £5
Battlefields guided tour £105
Opening times Oct - Mar: 09:30 - 17:00
Apr - Sept: 09:30 - 18:00
Closed Wednesdays
Closed 18 Dec - 23 Jan

Azincourt Medieval Centre

A modern museum opened in 2001 that takes you back to the Middle Ages and introduces you to the Hundred Years War and the famous Battle of Azincourt. Interactive exhibitions include a multimedia tour of the French and English camps and the battlefield itself. The museum is specifically designed for younger children and is a wonderful resource for medieval history teachers.
azincourt-medieval.fr

Price £3.50
Opening times Nov - Mar: 10:00 - 17:00
(Closed Tuesdays)
Apr - Jun/Sept - Oct: 10:00 - 18:00
Jul - Aug: 09:30 - 18:30
Closed 23 Dec - 5 Jan

Le Blockhaus d'Eperlecques

In terms of new technologies that were employed during WW2, this site was at the forefront, being the first launch site for the Nazi's V1 & V2 rockets -  the latter being the world's first long-range guided ballistic missile.  3000 V2's were launched in 1944 the majority of which landed in England, resulting in over 9000 civilian casualties.
leblockhaus.com

Price £5
Opening times Mar: 14:15 - 17:00
Apr - Sept: 10:00 - 18:00
Jul - Aug: 10:00 - 19:00
Oct: 10:00 - 17:00
Closed Nov - Feb and Tuesday AM

Boulogne-sur-Mer

Boulogne is within easy reach of the UK, with ferry crossings from Dover to Boulogne taking under two hours. Boulogne is a busy market town and one of France's major fishing ports.

The Old Town is nestled between mighty ramparts, which were built at the beginning of the thirteenth century and can still be seen today. It sits in the shadows of the Cathedral Belfry and Tower, and remains the administrative and spiritual centre of Boulogne.

If you and your group are interested in history then a trip the Castle Museum is most worthwhile. It was also built in the early thirteenth century and was the first castle to be built without a keep in the history of military architecture.
visitboulogne.com

Cap Gris Nez and Cap Blanc Nez

Headland offering spectacular views across the Channel.  On a clear day you can see the White Cliffs of Dover.  You can stretch your legs along the coastal path and see the former defensive buildings from WW2.

Could the Opal Coast be perfect for your group?

Art

Louvre-Lens

Sister to the Louvre in Paris, the Louvre Lens displaying exhibits from the main museum on a regular basis.
louvrelens.fr

Lille Museum of Modern Art

Located in a purpose-built modernist building within a large green park, this museum boasts a substantial range of art in various media.
musee-lam.fr

Price Group of 25 45€ on site
Opening times Tues - Sun: 11:00 - 18:00

Desvres Art Centre

The Village des Metiers d’Art in Desvres brings together a host of local artists and craft companies offering a variety of workshops to children.  Enjoy a backstage tour in French or English followed by a 1-hour workshop chosen from a menu of creative techniques.
vmad.eu

Price £8
Opening times Tues - Sat: 09:00 - 12:00/14:00 - 18:00

Desvres Ceramic Museum

Desvres is rich with the raw materials needed to make pottery, resulting in a thriving local industry. Visit this fascinating factory museum where you will learn about the history of ceramics and learn about traditional as well as contemporary styles. There is a gallery and also an interactive element to the visit. You can also take part in a workshop (1.5 hrs) during which you will learn local techniques from a professional animateur and you will take your own piece of craft away with you!
ville-desvres.fr

Price Admission £3
Guided visit £4
Guided visit and workshop £7
Opening times Nov - Feb: Tues - Sun: 14:00 - 17:30
Mar - Jun: Tues - Sat: 10:00 - 12:30/14:00 - 18:00 Sun: 14:00 - 18:00
Jul - Aug: Tues - Sat: 10:00 - 18:30 Sun: 10:00 - 12:30/
14:00 - 18:30

Maison du Marais (Marshland Discover Centre, St Omer)

Classified as an Art & History town, historic St Omer had nothing that showcased the nearby Audomarois marshland, listed by UNESCO for its unique way of life, market gardening traditions, and natural environment. The new, not-for-profit Maison du Marais now sends locals and tourists on a journey of discovery.

‘See. Touch. Breathe.’ is the motto. The eye-catching visitor centre stands beside a large free car park, just five minutes’ walk from the town centre. The spacious reception area opens onto tiers of seating in front of a huge window beside the water for talks and school activities. The exhibition space beyond is hugely impressive, models and artefacts interspersed with specially commissioned films, archive footage, and aquariums of local species. Signage is in French and English, with braille captions and floor guidance, and there’s a full programme of special events.

When you’ve discovered the background to the marshland, glide through the waterways in a flat-bottomed boat with an expert guide to see the ‘island’ homes of the residents, the flora and fauna.
maison-du-marais.fr

Price £12
Opening times 09:30 - 18:30 daily
Jul - Aug: 09:30 - 19:30
Talk to the team

Recreation

Bellewaerde Theme Park

Boasting among other things the highest water chute in Europe, Bellewaerde Park provides an excellent break from the more serious excursions of the World War I Battlefields. The transfer is around 2 hours from the Opal Coast.
bellewaerde.be

Price £17
Opening times Mar - Nov
See website for timetable and availability

Dennlys Parc

Theme park aimed at children under 15 years old.  A variety of rides in a lovely green setting. Dennlys is a manageable size and can be visited for a half day easily from the Hotel Moulin aux Draps.
dennlys-parc.com

Price £12
Opening times Apr - Sept: Weds/Sat/Sun only
Every day during French school holidays

Bagatelle Theme Park

There is plenty to do at Bagatelle Theme Park, including log flumes,  rollercoasters and rafting – recommended for children aged 7-14. There is also a small zoo and a 360 degree cinema.
parcbagatelle.com

Price £14
Opening times See website for timetable and availability

Nausicaa National Sea Centre

The Nausicaa National Sea Centre in Boulogne has an impressive selection of aquariums to introduce your students to all kinds of sea life. Visit the shark aquarium, tropical lagoon, sea lion reserve and penguin beach. Great interactive attractions too. Make sure you allow plenty of time to enjoy this outstanding aquarium.
nausicaa.fr

Price £12
Opening times 09:30 - 18:30 daily
Jul - Aug: 09:30 - 19:30

Aqualud Watersports

Aqualud is an excellent waterpark on the seafront at the Opal Coast and is always a popular choice when the weather is hot.
aqualud.com

Price £13
Opening times See website for timetable and availability

Opalaventure

An adrenaline-fueled (but completely safe) experience! It’s trekking but through the tree tops.  You can choose from a selection of courses for all levels. Fully qualified instructors to guide you at all times. Sport shoes are necessary.
opalaventure.com/en

Price Adult course £19
Discovery course £18
Child course £12
Opening times Mar - Nov
09:30/10:00/10:30/13:30/14:00/14:30/15:00/15:30
Every day during school holidays
Closed Tuesdays during term time

Rando Rail

Enjoy 90 minutes of pedalling through the forest along the disused rail line between St Omer and Boulogne. Participants must measure at least 1m40 in height.
rando-rail.com

Price £6.50
Opening times Departures on the hour
See website for timetable

 

Boulangerie

While you are in the area, you should visit an authentic French Boulangerie. Your students can see exactly how baguettes, croissants and other tasty French treats are made and sample a few too.

Price £4

Biscuiterie - Manufacture du Touquet

Chocolate and biscuit factory in central Le Touquet. Demonstration and tasting plus the option of a crepe making workshop.
biscuit-touquet.fr

Price £3
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

Becasuc Sweet Factory

At the Becasuc Sweet factory, you will learn about the manufacturing of sweets, get involved in making them and get to taste some of the delicious sweets. Great for students of food technology and people with a sweet tooth!
becasuc62.fr

Price £3.50
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

Snail Farm Visit

Learn all about this French delicacy from breeding, hatching, fattening, reproduction and of course tasting.

Price From £4.50
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

Bee Museum

Learn everything about bees and honey and leave with a small souvenir pot.
museedelabeille.fr

Price £4.80
Opening times Mon: 14:00 - 18:00
Tues - Sat: 09:00 - 12:00/14:00 - 18:00
Fri/Holidays: 15:00 - 18:00
Closed Sundays

Natur'Pom

The guided educational visit of the orchard can be adapted to the age of the children. Students will learn about the growing cycle of the apples, find out about the farm ecostructure and how the apple products are made. There is also a tasting. The visit lasts about 1 hr 30 mins and changes its focus according the seasons.
naturpom.com

Price £6
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

Goat Farm Visit

Guided educational visit of a goat’s cheese farm. You will receive a warm welcome and a cheese tasting at this local farm.

Price £4
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

Mareis - Fishing Centre

Dedicated to the age old industry of fishing, this museum offers students the chance to learn about the importance of fishing to the local economy and people.
boulogne-guide.co.uk

Price £5
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

Le Pain Show

Crepes demonstration and tasting in Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Price £5
Opening times Contact your Voyager salesperson

 

 

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