The 10 most beautiful walks in Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Le tour du Platier d’Oye

Hiking in Nord-Pas-de-Calais means discovering, at your own pace, everything that makes up the unique identity of this region: dunes and cliffs take turns all along the coast, ancient slag heaps form the highest reliefs, history and heritage meet along the trails…

As always, it’s when you walk that you truly immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a place. The same is true of the most beautiful walks in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, whether by the sea or in the countryside, on former mining sites or relics of the Great War, walking is as much a sporting as a cultural way of discovering this beautiful region of northern France.

One of the advantages of Nord-Pas-de-Calais hikes is their accessibility: the difficulty lies more in the number of kilometers than in the altitude difference, which is generally low, and it’s always possible to adapt an itinerary to your level. These are hikes to discover in all seasons, because the Nord-Pas-de-Calais landscapes retain all their charms in sunshine and gloom alike!

1. Cap Blanc Nez

randonnees du Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Duration: approx. 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Distance: 10.1 km
  • Height difference: 348 m
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • See the route

Here’s one of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais hikes you really shouldn’t miss, so superb is the natural site of Cap Blanc Nez: a series of steep, vertiginous cliffs, composed of chalk giving it its characteristic white color.

The walk, which has no major difficulties, starts in Escales, skirting the cliffs above, with views of the English coast on a clear day, then overlooks Sangatte before returning to the starting point through the countryside. Several Second World War relics dot the route, including the MKB Lindemann Battery.

2. Cap Gris Nez and the Opal Coast

Le Cap Gris Nez et la Côte d’Opale

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Duration: approx. 4 hours
  • Distance: 19.8 km
  • Difference in altitude: 302 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

This beautiful Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike follows part of the GR120 route along the Côte d’Opale: an absolutely magnificent coastal path, with highlights including the beautiful beach at Wissant, the panorama from the cliffs of Cap Gris Nez, the fort at Ambleteuse, and the sea air to accompany you all the way.

An itinerary that you can easily adapt to your needs: shorter, longer, looping or roaming, anything goes, as long as you hike this section of the GR120.

3. Le Chemin du Saint-Nazaire

Le Chemin du Saint-Nazaire

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Running time: approx. 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Distance: 6.1 km
  • Difference in altitude: 152 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

In the Artois region, not far from Lens, this interesting Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike is dedicated to the memory of the First World War: from Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, take the Chemin du Saint-Nazaire, which leads straight to the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette basilica and its vast military cemetery.

Nice view from the top of this hill, scene of many a battle between 1914 and 1915. The rest of the route is simple and easy, allowing you to complete a hilly loop back to your starting point.

4. The Platier d’Oye tour

Le tour du Platier d’Oye

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Duration: approx. 2 hours
  • Distance: 8 km
  • Height difference: 88 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

Between Calais and Dunkirk, one of the region’s most beautiful nature reserves stretches along the sea: the Platier d’Oye is a superb Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike, between the sea and the dunes, for lovers of unspoilt landscapes and marine flora and fauna.

The path is signposted, with a few footbridges to cross wet spots and avoid damaging the dunes. The terrain is flat, with no changes in elevation, but it is possible to cover a further ten kilometers or so around the reserve.

5. Mont des Cats Abbey

L’abbaye du Mont des Cats

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Duration: approx. 2 hours
  • Distance: 3.7 km
  • Height difference: 128 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

This short hike in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region is ideal for a family outing to get some fresh air and a little culture. The loop takes you around the Cistercian abbey of Mont des Cats, through the beautiful rolling countryside of French Flanders.

The good news is that the abbey is still active, and the Trappist monks are still at work: a break en route allows you to visit the premises and taste abbey beer and local cheese, typical of the North, to round off a fine half-day’s program.

6. The Bray-Dunes dune loop

La boucle des dunes de Bray-Dunes

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Duration: approx. 2h15
  • Distance: 9.7 km
  • Height difference: 90 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

Many will be reminded of a well-known Alain Souchon song as they make their way along this pleasant Nord-Pas-de-Calais route, on the border with Belgium, from the aptly named seaside resort of Bray-Dunes.

The route winds its way through the beautiful dunes and endless sandy beaches that characterize the northern coastline, and can be extended by following the seafront, a seaside walk to fill up on iodine and swim along the way on sunny days.

7. The Fontinettes boat elevator

randonnees-nord-pas-de-calais

Photo credit: Wikipedia – MOSSOT

  • Duration: approx. 2 hours
  • Distance: 7.7 km
  • Height difference: 91 m
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • See the route

We start this Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike in Arques, just a stone’s throw from Saint-Omer, to follow the Fontinettes trail: a pleasant loop that cuts through the small town, skirts the Neufossé canal on the towpath, crosses locks, ponds and forests – in short, a rather varied itinerary!

Curiosity to discover along the way: the impressive Fontinettes boat elevator. An interesting half-day hike.

8. Phalempin forest

La forêt de Phalempin

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Running time: approx. 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Distance: 10.8 km
  • Height difference: 191 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

Between the metropolitan area of Lille and the former mining basin around Lens, it doesn’t hurt to enjoy a Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike in the lush greenery of the Phalempin forest.

So don’t miss the chance to go for a good walk on the various trails that cross the state-owned forest: there are many possible itineraries (don’t get lost!), so you can tailor your outing to your needs, from short strolls to long walks.

9. Stroll on the Hauts d’Artois

Nielles-lès-Bléquin

Photo credit: Wikipedia – PIERRE ANDRE LECLERCQ

  • Duration: approx. 2 hours
  • Distance: 15.8 km
  • Difference in altitude: 358 m
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • See the route

With this Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike, you’ll explore the beautiful, hilly Artois region: it’s here that you’ll have the best chance of accumulating a bit of elevation gain!

Depart from the village of Nielles-lès-Bléquin, typical of the North of France, and set off through the hills and fields of this very rural itinerary, offering several fine general views of the surrounding area along the way: you’ll reach an altitude of 195 m in places on the Hauts d’Artois! A hike to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside.

10. The slag heap tour in the coalfield

Le tour des terrils dans le bassin minier

Photo credit : Alltrails

  • Duration: approx. 2 hours
  • Distance: 6.8 km
  • Height difference: 116 m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • See the route

A complete change of scenery with this Nord-Pas-de-Calais hike, which focuses on the region’s industrial past. In the Lens mining basin, impressive slag heaps have reshaped the natural landscape: this little forest loop takes you around two of them, slag heaps 108 and 122, which can be climbed for the view.

Nearby, in Libercourt, you can climb Terril 115, also known as the Téléphérique, to complete a day of themed walks.