If you’re in Paris for more than a short stay, and the weather is sizzling, why not take the train or rent a car and spend the weekend at the beach! If you don’t mind spending a couple of hours in the car or train, there are some lovely beaches/seaside towns to discover along France’s northern coast.
Striking Landscapes and Nature
Baie de Somme
2.20 hours total one-way from Paris Gare du Nord → Noyelles sur Mer → Saint Valery sur Somme
The estuary (or bay) of the river Somme where it meets the sea measures 15 kilometers long and 5 kilometers across. Flat marshland makes it a haven for wildlife, hence its popularity among bird-spotters and nature enthusiasts. The landscape is beautiful in a remote, tranquil way, but is not your typical beach holiday location. Go if you love nature, the wilderness and a breath of fresh air. Delacroix, Degas, Colette, Jules Verne, Victor Hugo and Alfred Manessier are just some of the artists and intellectuals who’ve been inspired by the region.
3.5 hours total one-way from Paris Saint Lazare → Le Havre → Étretat
Étretat is known mostly for its famous stunning cliffs (which you can walk along) and the beaches that surround them, which really are worth a visit if you have time. It is the number 1. tourism destination in the Haute Normandie region, and is also near the larger town of Fécamp which has some wonderful seafood restaurants thanks to its fishing industry.
Famous fact: Maupassant spent most of his childhood in Étretat!
3.5 hours total one-way from Paris Gare du Nord → Beauvais → Le Tréport
Le Tréport is a small seaside town that is very popular among French tourists, so much so that the population triples during the summer. The beach is predominantly shingle, but the sand is revealed during low tide. Like Fécamp, fishing is an important industry here and, like Étretat, Le Treport also has some beautiful white chalk cliffs (the highest in Europe) with a free funicular to take you up and down! From the end of June through September, the cliffs are illuminated every evening.
3 hours from Paris St Lazare → Le Havre → (bus) Honfleur
This lovely fishing village is very popular among tourists, but has not lost its charm. The harbour is so picturesque that you’ll always find painters at their easels by the water. The area around the famous wooden Sainte Catherine church has cobbled streets, a good choice of restaurants and many art galleries. The trip from Le Havre to Honfleur takes you over the breathtaking Pont de Normandie (Normandy Bridge).
Deauville & Trouville
2 hours on train direct from Saint Lazare
All of Paris’ bourgeois families have been on a weekend to Deauville and Trouville, two towns separated by the mouth of the river Touques. The former is where all the celebrities head for, it’s the place to be seen and the place to do your designer shopping. The latter is also chic, but more ‘organic cashmere cardigan’ than ‘Louis Vuitton handbag’, if you seen what I mean.
3.5 hours from Paris Nord → Etaples → Le Touquet-Paris-Plage
Also known as Paris-on-Sea because of the number of Parisians who head to this small commune during the summer for vacation, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage is Northern France’s most elegant seaside destination. Off from the sandy beach, a casino, horse racing course and a wide range of sports are offered.
To see how to get around France using public transport, check out www.rome2rio.com which gives you train and bus information. Otherwise, renting a car is usually a quicker and more fuss-free way of exploring the North of France and her coast.