Nord-Pas De Calais : Neufchâtel-Hardelot
Hardelot Plage is a medium sized beach resort in the Nord-Pas De Calais region of France, approximately equidistant along the coast from Boulogne to the North and Le Touquet to the South. It was founded in the 1910's by Englishman John Whitely (who also founded Le Touquet) and it remained a relatively small quiet resort principally popular with golfers and sand yacht enthusiasts until major redevelopments starting in the late 1980's. From that point forward the town developed itself as a more traditional beach resort, with the sand yachts and wind surfers banished to the edges of the beach in high season, when lifeguards are provided. The town has more than doubled in size since 1990 and now has a continuous built up area bordering the next town to the North-East (Condette). As well as the beach, Hardelot now boasts two shopping streets, several restuarants, an equestrian centre, two golf courses and a country club, and (just outside), a castle and a nature reserve.
Hardelot has no railway station and bus services outside of school days are infrequent (although there is the occasional bus to Boulogne). By road it is accessed from junction 27 of the A16, or from the old main road out of Boulonge (the D940) towards Le Touquet. Taxis from Boulogne or Le Touquet are both available at the cost of around 25 euros one way.
Facilities exist within the town to hire bikes, mopeds and cycle carts.
The centre of town is largely on a grid pattern with a single main road leading from the edge of town to the sea front. Most shops and restaurants are on the main road, although at the coast end there are two parallel streets also containing shops and restaurants.
The built up area of the sea front itself is larger than the town itself (or at leas the town has yet to be developed to cover all of it) and is about a mile in length.
The country club is about half a mile out of the town centre, the two golf clubs a little further than that. The equestrian centre is about a mile further out on the main road. Down the side road next to the equestrian centre is the lake, now a nature reserve, and a little way beyound that is the castle.
The half ruined castle, Chateau D'Hardelot, a hunting lodge, has recently been restored and is open as a museum on occasion. Even when it is not the grounds are always open as are what remains of the walls.
The lake, nearby, is now a nature reserve.
Of historial interest though not an especially pretty site are the remains of several German WW2 Fortifications on and above the beach just south of the town. For those wishing a more comprehensive WW2 experience, two excellent museums exist further up the coast in and around Ambleteuse.
Sit on the beach, swim in the sea, ride horses, sail sand yachts, surf, play golf or play tennis at the country club.
In high season and at other busy times (Christmas, Easter) there is usually a market on the main road on Sundays.
Also in high season there are arts and music festivals held in both the castle grounds and the country club.
The castle is also host to regular weekend produce fairs with free wine tastings for a nominal entry fee.
The only place of religion in the town is the Roman Catholic Church of St Augustine, which provides Mass every Saturday evening.
Other than those shops you would expect anywere in France (baker, pharamacy, newsagent etc.) the shops come in two varieties, ones that sell things for the beach, and expensive boutiques selling antiques, artwork and gourmet food. There are also plenty of estate agents for those interesting in buying part of the town itself.
Hardelot has many restuarants, bars and cafes to suit all tastes and most wallets. The two largest are the Terrasse and the Grand Cafe at either end of the main Place de la Concorde.
For those self-catering, Haredelot itself has several bakeries, two confisseries, a butchers, a charcuterie and a fish shop. It also has a small but reasonably stocked supermarket (a Spa) open 7 days a week. The nearest large supermarket is a Carrefour up the road in Condette and the nearest hypermarket is a LecLerc in the Outreau subhurb of Boulogne.
Hardelots bars offer the majority of the local French and flanders beers between them. Two of the pubs are Irish themed. Those who particularly want fine wine and spirits need look no further then the aforementioned expensive boutiques.
Hardelot's tourist accomodation is geared nearly exclusively to the self-catering market. There are no hotels near the beach, although there are hotels further out near the golf courses and there is one inside the country club. Laregely, however, this is a place where you rent an appartment or a gite for your holiday.