On the program: pines, wild flowers, birds, dunes and unexpected curiosities!
Behind the beautiful beaches that characterise the Boulogne country you'll find lots of delights popular with local walkers. The forest of Ecault is one of these. A geographical curiosity sees the forests of Boulogne-sur-Mer and Hardelot-Plage playing a game of hide-and-seek with the sea. Despite its smaller size (315 hectares), the forest of Ecault is an attraction for walkers who can enjoy ten different signposted trails through the woodland, adapted for beginners, families and seasoned hikers alike.
To get to know the place better, take the main path that leads to the dunes and the sea. Three kilometres separate the car park from the beach, during which your senses will be invaded by the rich smell of maritime pines and other tree species, mingled with the birdsong and splashes of wild flowers competing in colour and display. You'll find picnic tables and other facilities along the way to allow you to stop off and take a break right in the middle of a truly wild place.
What we like most when criss-crossing the area , is the different environments, which transform the scenery as you walk. Alternating between the almost monastic atmosphere of the great forests, and the bucolic ambience of the woodland graves, you might cross a small stream before coming up against the white sand dunes behind the beach. The dunes, contiguous to the forest, extend for nearly five kilometres and constitute the largest dune massif in the north of France!
Second World War
To access the observatory perched at the top of the dunes, you have to take the infamous Chemin des Juifs. Right here, as the Second World War engulfed the planet, thousands of Jewish prisoners were forced to build this trail and blockhouses during the construction of the Atlantic Wall. A monument to their memory can be found here, a solemn reminder.
Once you get to the top of dunes - the belvedere view is absolutely grandiose, a panorama over Hardelot, the dunes and the sea ... Take a moment to breathe the sea air and meditate on nature before you head back down. Time will seem to stand still for a moment...
All roads lead to...
The forest and the dunes are accessible via a number of different routes. The main access is along the departmental road D119 between Écault and Condette, but other entrances can be found in the north, on the Chemin de la Warenne and in the south, near the Château d'Hardelot. Fans of serious hiking will want to be aware that the Grande Randonnée hiking trail GR 121, connecting Bonsecours in Belgium to Arras, also crosses the forest!