Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Le Touquet: retro charm just across the Channel
I've got the softest spot for Le Touquet. How could you not? It's full name is Le Touquet Paris-Plage and this retro resort is a short drive down the coast from Calais, almost within sight of the south coast of England. So, when I was planning our summer holiday last year, it was an obvious overnight stop after our lunchtime ferry from Dover.
As its name implies, Le Touquet is one of France's oldest seaside resorts. With its pine woods, long, wide beach, golf courses, elegant avenues and quirky timbered buildings in the centre, it's easy to see why a century ago it became popular with Parisians looking for some refreshing, healthy r & r. Until F Scott Fitzgerald and his pals made the Riviera a fashionable summer destination in the 1920s and 30s, the beau monde decamped here and to other resorts along the Channel like Deauville, Trouville, Cabourg, Dinard and Dieppe.
Given that we were travelling on a Sunday – and how in France so many restaurants close Sundays and Mondays (amazingly even during high summer) – it made sense to spend the night somewhere reliably lively.
No risk of Le Touquet feeling quiet, the town marching band had been weaving through the streets and along the seafront and the town was buzzing. In one of Le Touquet's busy pedestrianised streets we had some bargain moules frîtes before carrying on strolling, finishing the evening with salted caramel crèpes.
We spent a comfortable night at the Hotel Bristol – just the kind of place regular Le Touquet visitor Noël Coward might have approved of – before continuing our predictably 21st century journey towards the hot sunny Mediterranean.
(Painting of Hotel Bristol copyright Alain Godon, 2010)