Northern France
Best months:
July to October

Northern France

LAST UPDATED 26/08/2008
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Bardhylius: EUR location FRA; 20 February 2008

Northern region of the France is known for its contrasting forests, gentle meadows, and rolling hills dotted with windmills. 150-mile stretch of coastline is made up by sandy beaches and imposing cliffs. Visitors can cruise the network of canals and rivers and explore the expansive countryside and nature reserve parks. Many battlefields including Flanders Fields are in the region as well.


Charles Betz: Seaside near the Crozon Peninsula; 2007

The Atlantic coast of France is famed for miles of endless beaches, consistent surf and long summer days. It receives powerful Atlantic swells year-round, providing quality waves at a wide variety of reef, rivermouth and beach breaks all along the coast.

North facing coast from Brest near the north west tip of France to Belgium; it just gets better if you go closer to the north west tip, there you’ll find some cool reef breaks. The further east you go the worse the swell gets. This area receives the same swells as the south coast of England.
The Atlantic coast receives the best swells and this is where the action is. This part can also split into 3 main surfing areas - Brittany (furthest north), the Coast of Light (Cote de Lumiere) which stretches from Brittany down to La Rochelle and then the Silver Coast - the straight coast that joins with Spain in the south.

Britanny cops plenty of large swells and has some mean reef breaks to suit the more experienced surfer. There are plenty of spots to keep away from the crowds and a large variety of wave types to suit every surfer.

But even though headline acts like Hossegor, Biarritz and Lacanau draw the biggest crowds, you can head further north and you’ll find the coastline becomes much quieter and whole lot more varied. There are consistent reefs and beaches that break in virtually any wind direction, and hidden spots where you can score waves all to yourself


Sese Ingolstadt: TGV Duplex in Paris, Gare de Lyon; 8 July 2007

There are many ways of travelling France: by plane, train, bus, motorcycle, bike, thumb or car.
France has a well-developed system of highways. Rent a car and you are free to go! Metro is not very cheap in Paris, but will take you, literally everywhere.

Train is a great option to get around France. TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse - High-Speed Train) is fast and extremely comfortable – it truly is a wonderful way of seeing the country.

Hitchhiking is possible as well, just be patient. And your knowledge of French will help you a lot here (and generally in every situation).

where to stay

Paul James Cowie: Mont Saint Michel, 27 October 2005

Many people choose to go to Northern France because it is only a short ferry ride away from England, which means that you don't have to travel too far to see some fantastic places and experience a whole different culture.

Normandy is one of the most popular regions to camp in Northern France. It has a beautiful landscape of golden beaches, woody valleys and pine forests. The countryside is peaceful and quiet and has a few campsites to choose from, some situated near the pretty seaside town of Houlgate.

Caen is short drive away from Normandy and has an amazing architecture dating back to the 11th century.

However, majority of the town was bombed in World War II, resulting in only the survival of several buildings. You will also find the Museum of Normandy and the Museum of Peace, which both give an insight into the culture and heritage of this region.

A little further up the coast is Bayeax, famous for the 11th century masterpiece the Bayeax tapestry. The most popular attraction is Mont-St-Michel. It is world famous and is visited by millions of people every year.
From afar, it looks like a fairytale castle in the sea - magical and mysterious.

It is one of the best examples of ancient architecture in the world. If you walk around its ramparts you will get some of the most breathtaking panoramic views that make it clear why it is such a popular place to be.


what to pack

Mohylek-Fujifilm Finepix S9000; 1 April 2007

Whenever you are going to France, pack some warm clothes, because it can get quite cool in the evenings. Have at least one set of nicer clothing for more formal occasions. You’ll need short sleeved t-shirts, shorts and long trousers (pants) and probably a light jacket or pullover for the more blustery days and evenings and sun cream for days out on the water. In winter bring long trousers (pants), warm pullovers, warm waterproof coats, scarves, hat and gloves!!

You can buy everything in France now so just pack lightly and you can come home with lots of new things!

A small backpack makes a good carryon bag and will be useful in daily life. Also take some waterproof clothes/gear/backpack.

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