Hiking the Cap Gris-Nez in the North of France

Due to my previous research in Frommer’s, I had read about hiking the Cap Gris-Nez. As the 200-year old apple farm where we were staying was only an hour away, the family and I took a day-trip over to see the fabled and dramatic coastline.

On the car-ride to the capes the sweet and elderly grandfather insisted on having others translate lots of little factoids for me:

“Tell her this is the supermarket where I sell my apples and pears.”

“Tell her that these little houses are for pigeons so you can eat their meat later.”

“Tell her that Europe uses the Mediterranean as a reference to sea level.”

After learning lots of new information about potential Scrabble words and pear cultivation, we started our hike near the adorable village of Escalles. Escalles seemed surprisingly unscathed by WWII bombing, and forgive me but, untouched by time.


As we walked up the path of the Cap Gris-Nez, we saw lots of remnants of German bunkers.

Cap Gris Nez

German bunker

We stopped at a largely intact bunker called the batterie Lindemann. Being a huge history buff, it was a treat for me to be able to stand on top of a real-live German bunker. The bunker once housed 20-meter long barrels that were able to deliver one-tonne shells onto the coastal cities of Kent on the other side of the Strait, 40 kilometers away.

Cap Gris Nez

Cap Gris Nez

Sadly, many coastal cities in both England and France were nearly destroyed by bombings in World War Two. And though I had assumed that the Germans had bombed France’s northern cities, it was in fact the Allied forces who had done the damage. The Germans had taken over the cities of northern France (as well as the rest of France, of course) and to reclaim the important shipping ports the Allies were forced to bomb them.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Atonement you might remember the scene that depicts the “Miracle of Dunkirk,” the evacuation of more than 300,000 British soldiers who were hastily transported back to England on anything that could float, including fishing boats and civilian pleasure crafts.

Unfortunately, a flurry of hail stones that suddenly began assaulting our faces and ears cut our hike was cut short. I ran back to the car with my face covered in black mascara marks which is why I won’t be appearing in the photos (damn you, Diorshow!)

But I should’ve known this might happen; a French friend of mine had warned me about the inclement weather in the North of France, “You’ll see it is very pretty if it is not raining which is 99% of the time!”

Though we didn’t hike as far as I would’ve liked, the views and WWII history were well worth the weather.

Cap Gris Nez

Cap Gris Nez

Would you be interested in hiking the Cap Gris-Nez?


Enjoyed this post? Subscribe here!

Subscribe here to receive new Ashley Abroad posts straight to your inbox.

I'll never send you spam. And you can unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Please read my disclosure for more info.
About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

6 thoughts on “Hiking the Cap Gris-Nez in the North of France”

    • Wow, thank you, that’s so nice to hear :)! Definitely check out the Opal coast… you’re a great photographer so you’re going to love the Cap Gris-Nez. Just try to go when it’s sunny!

  1. When I studied abroad in France, I was in Le Havre, a city that had to be completely reconstructed after WWII. The city is strikingly different from the rest of France due to its newness.

    Even though I was living in Normandy I never visited any of the beaches of WWII and I could kick myself for that now. I’m definitely going to go back some day!

    Driftwood and Daydreams

  2. Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely confused ..
    Any recommendations? Kudos!

Comments are closed.