Visit the lovely town of Etaples on the Opal Coast

The rich past of Etaples-sur-mer and not "Etaple" as it is sometimes written deserves to be visited, so here is a short summary of what to do in this lovely town. 

A town that breathes the sea & that you are bound to like! 

First of all, you should know that Etaples is situated at the mouth of the Canche river, it is a port which has known for a long time a maritime activity which is very important. Etaples appeared in the 9th century under the name of "Stapula" meaning fair town, market town. The commercial activity of the port developed alongside coastal fishing. At the end of the 19th century, the port had 90 fishing boats. The city was then turned towards the sea and the maritime world was not limited to fishermen. There were many other trades that made their living indirectly from fishing (coopers, fishmongers, shoemakers, shipwrights, etc.).

When the men go to sea to fish, the women, called "Matelotes", sell the fish brought back by the family, but also fish for worms or shrimps.

Today, due to the transformation of the estuary, boats no longer have the possibility of regularly berthing in the port of Etaples. The Etaples trawlers are now based in the port of Boulogne sur Mer. That said, the tradition is maintained since the fishermen's town has done everything possible to preserve the fishing tradition on its quays. Every day, the Etaples seafaring craftsmen returning to the port of Boulogne unload their fish and sell it in Étaples-sur-Mer on their stalls. As in the past, life continues to revolve around the sea and fishing, which makes its 11,000 inhabitants (municipal population) happy. 

A little geography before moving on to the activities? Despite its small population, Etaples is densely populated and belongs to the Montreuil intercommunal area and the Berck-sur-Mer urban unit. 

Nature walks

Classified as a national nature reserve, the Canche (coastal river) has a number of attractive landscapes... A sensitive natural area... that can be visited! You only need to look at a map of the area to realise that Etaples sur Mer is situated in an exceptional territory. Paths, observatories and lookouts make you aware of its biological, geological and landscape interest. While respecting the rules and regulations and being very vigilant to the times and coefficients of the tides, take the paths freely and immerse yourself in an amazing nature. From August to February, don't be surprised to come across waterfowl hunters on the Public Maritime Domain.

Download the map to discover this natural treasure 

The Chemin des Molières (distance: 1.6 km - going - > in green on the map). On foot, from Étaples, this path on the Public Maritime Domain runs along the salt meadows and reaches the nature reserve (lookout point of the Boucle du Tadorne) and the bed of the Canche.

The Boucle du Tadorne (distance of the loop 2.2 km > in yellow on the map). Take advantage of the viewpoint and the 2 observatories, then go to the beach of the poor who, with Les Molières, are chased away from August to February and totally flooded during the high tides.

La Butte aux Signaux (distance of the loop: 2.3 km > in blue on the map). A dune mass with a significant difference in level where you will enjoy the most beautiful view of the Bay of Canche. The route crosses the departmental road twice.

Les Garennes de Lornel (distance: 1.6 km - going - > in pink on the map). This path through the dunes interspersed with pine forests leads to the beach (35 minutes) where 2 blockhouses are stranded. Depending on the time and tidal range, the Boucle du Tadorne can be joined (think of the return).

The GR du Littoral or GR 120 (section of the E9 European coastal path > dotted white and red on the map) allows you to walk along the coast from the Authie Bay to the Belgian border, passing through the most remarkable natural sites, including the Canche Bay.

The markets

Ready to fill your basket with good things?

Let's meet on Tuesday and Friday mornings at the Place du Général de Gaulle

& at the market of the port every Sunday morning from April to September!

Museums & visits

Mareis Aquarium Museum

Discover the different fishing techniques and life on board a trawler. Learn the basics of navigation and some seamanship operations, such as tying a knot. Thanks to an underwater camera, explore the seabed on the beach, surprises guaranteed! Around the crates of fish unloaded from the docks, the future of fishing is discussed, with a view to better management of the resource. To finish this rich guided tour, the giant aquariums reveal the riches and treasures that are hidden in the Channel and the North Sea. Observe more than 500 animals, not forgetting the nursery area where young rays and dogfish can hatch from their eggs at any time. Finally, the touch pool is the highlight of the visit, where young and old alike can put their hands in the water to stroke the rays and other turbot.

The visit to Maréis is divided into two parts: the first part is guided (at no extra charge) by a former sailor or fisherman's daughter or wife. The first part is guided (at no extra charge) by a former sailor or fisherman's daughter or wife. The guided tour is not compulsory but is recommended to fully appreciate the discovery of the centre. The second part is a self-guided tour. For more information on the guided tour departures: 03 21 09 04 00 or on the website.

Museum of the Navy

We advise you to visit the Musée de la Marine before Maréis.

Located in the old fish market, it bears witness to the importance of the fishing port of Étaples at the beginning of the 20th century, where a hundred or so coastal fishing boats docked. Various aspects of the daily life of fishermen in the past are presented. Life-size boats give a direct insight into the world of fishing. Models of boats and fishing gear show how the work of fishermen evolved throughout the 19th century. Finally, the tools of the shipwright, sailmaker, cooper, shoemaker and blacksmith evoke the traditional trades that are no longer practised today, but which were essential to fishermen in the past. For more information, call 03 21 09 77 21.

Traditional shipyard

Since 1951, this shipyard has never ceased to live and still practices traditional wooden shipbuilding. A shipwright, a true enthusiast, will show you two aspects in a few minutes. The first is the permanent activity: the construction and restoration of traditional boats. And the one that allows you to discover objects and ships from the past. It is here that the Charles de Foucauld, a trawler from Etaples classified as a historical monument, was born (in 1958), restored and preserved.

The Etaples Military Cemetery

On the northern outskirts of Etaples, between the road leading to Boulogne-sur-Mer and the Bay of Canche, the cemetery is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

This place of remembrance overlooking the Canche estuary is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in France. No less than twelve thousand men and women of all nationalities have been buried here since the end of the First World War. The tourist office offers guided tours.

Guided tours offered by the tourist office

"From the sea to the plate" : First, we visit Maréis, then we go for a walk in a group on the port. It's like going from theory to practice. On the way, the guide explains what all these buildings along the boulevard are and that we don't really know them very well: the former Leprêtre shipyards, the Socarenam, the careening area, the sailors' calvary, the headquarters of the Etapl maritime cooperative... We learn a lot about the history of fishing and the evolution of the port.

When you arrive at the fishing stalls, you can talk to the sailors or their wives, see the day's harvest just unloaded on the quay. And you can take advantage of the opportunity to buy your fish there and thus favour local fishing and short circuits.

The little extra, a snack of seafood prepared by the chef of the "Planète Océan" restaurant. From the sea to the plate, a journey in contact with the fishermen which will meet your expectations, in search of authenticity, local produce and flavours...

Information from the tourist office or calling 03 21 09 56 94

Historical guided tour of the town: The town of Etaples-sur-mer has a rich history, thanks to its ancient geographical location between land and sea. The guide will use illustrations to present the history of Etaples since Antiquity and then take you on an exciting expedition through the streets of the town to discover the picturesque architecture of the fishermen's town and the key sites that illustrate its history: the old buildings (mill, town hall, old private mansions), the places linked to daily life (market...), the specific architecture linked to fishing (port, auction hall, calvary...).

Guided tour of the painters of the Etaples-sur-mer colony: The town of Etaples-sur-mer, at the end of the 19th century, thanks to its picturesque aspect and its beautiful light, saw the installation of a colony of international artists. They took advantage of the proximity of the Opal Coast, linked to Paris by train, and settled for short or long stays in Etaples-sur-mer and its surroundings. Following a few precursors such as Eugène Boudin, painters of all nationalities such as Eugène Chigot, Myron Barlow, Henri Le Sidaner, Isobel Rae... passed through the small fishing town and, seduced, set down their easels in the streets and near the Canche. The collection of works from the School of Étaples is rich in nearly 300 works and is also very representative of this cosmopolitan colony which welcomed French and foreign artists who frequented our coastline.

Throughout the visit, your guide will talk about the inspiration of this community of artists: the sea, the tides, the fishermen in their work, etc.

Guided tour of the town's architecture: after presenting the evolution of the town's urban planning through the ages, the guide takes you on a stroll through the town to discover its architecture over the centuries. From the Middle Ages to the post-war period, the city has changed a lot! Discover the buildings and facades characteristic of a particular style or period (18th century, 1900, 1930s, etc.) and learn how to recognise them.

Where to eat in Etaples ?

Aux Pêcheurs d'Etaples : Referred to Gault & Millau 2020. Referred to Tables et auberges de France as a gastronomic table. On the port of Étaples-sur-mer, facing the bay of the Canche and the airfield of Le Touquet, this is the flagship restaurant for fish and seafood. Aux Pêcheurs d'Étaples guarantees quality and freshness. The fish is landed the same morning and is cooked wonderfully by the chef and his brigade. The team in the dining room knows its subject well and will advise you on the choice of dishes and wines. Seafood and fine fish are on the menu every day of the year for gourmets. 

Au vieux port : Located around the main square of Etaples sur mer, you can park easily. As you enter, the bar offers you more than 120 bottled beers and 12 draught beers, from our region and the world. There is also a selection of wine by the glass or bottle to enjoy or to accompany your meals. The bistro style cuisine will delight your taste buds at the morning markets, gourmet and regional cuisine. Don't miss the Choucroute, the Welch and the rib of beef tomahawk...

Planète océan : With its unobstructed view of the port, the Bay of Canche and, in the distance, La Canche, Planète Océan is the place to go for moments that are as simple as they are pleasant. A chair on the terrace, in the brasserie or at the bar, the same atmosphere, the same smells and the same desire to savour one of the dishes on offer in all simplicity.

Le roulis : Located 2 minutes from the port, this good value brasserie offers a generous daily special and pleasant service.

The port of Etaples on the Opal Coast


Located in the Pas-de-Calais department, Etaples sur Mer is a town to visit! If you are looking for a hotel in the area, we recommend that you stay in Sainte-Cécile, only a few kilometres away. Our residence Trésors d'Opale welcomes you in a natural setting only a few metres from the beach. You can enjoy a heated swimming pool as well as fully equipped and tastefully decorated accommodation. A wonderful stay in a real haven of peace awaits you just a few steps from Le Touquet Paris Plage. Choosing Evancy is to ensure a successful stay on the Opal Coast! 

Around park: 8km
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