Outdoor Activities in Picardy and Nord Pas-de-Calais

Information on the facilities in Picardy for outdoors activities: walks, hikes and cycling activities in the area...

Picardy and Nord Pas-de-Calais offers a wide variety of outdoor activities such as:

Most Tourist Offices have information brochures in English and several have websites with details on activities in each area. There are companies that hire out any specific equipment needed for an excursion.

Natural Parks

Parc Naturel Régional de l’Avensnois

Set in the Nord the Regional Park of the Avensois contains winding rivers, grasslands, deciduous forests and the local blue stone.  Activities such as cycling, hiking and walking as well as observing the local wild and birdlife can be enjoyed in this lovely habitat.

Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale

The Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale extends from Calais to Boulogne-sur-Mer to Saint-Omer. Bordered by the English Channel and North Sea, it is the northernmost of France's regional parks. The landscape is varied and includes marshes and the famous cliffs of Cap Blanc-Nez and Cap Gris-Nez. Walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers will find trails available throughout the park. There are several long beaches, ideal for walks leading to the bays of Conche, Authie and down to the Somme.

Parc Naturel Régional de Scarpe-Escaut

The Parc Naturel Régional de Scarpe-Escaut covers 43,000 hectares between Valenciennes, Douai and Lille.  The park has cycling and walking paths as well as places for visitors to stay overnight.

Forêt de Chantilly

The Chantilly Forest, covering 6,300 hectares, is managed by the Office National des Forêts. The forest is home to rare fauna and is famous for the stags and deer found within it, as well as the wild boar and other protected wildlife.

Hiking in Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais

The French Hiking and Walking Federation (Fédération Française de la Randonnée Pedestre - FFRP) is the overseeing body for all marked and maintained walking routes in France. It provides information and guide-books (most in French) for walkers in the area.

All nationally recognised trails are categorised as follows:

  • GR (Grand Randonnée): Registered hiking trails that often run across the entire country
  • GRP (Sentiers de Grande Randonnée de Pays): Registered regional trails that will take you around a particular region for several days
  • PR (Sentiers de Promenade): Walking and hiking trails for short circuits, lasting several hours

The French route marking system shows paths by means of signs and blazes. During the summer months, marked paths may be closed for fire hazard.

  • For clear explanations of the waymarks, or blazes (balises): Click here

The Comité Régional de la Randonnée Pédestre (the Regional Committee of Walking) has information on the hundreds of kilometres of walking paths in Picardy.

  • Comité Régional de la Randonnée Pédestre
    At: 10 rue Damour, 80250 Ailly-sur-Noye
    Tel: 03 22 41 03 26

Pas-de-Calais has thousands of kilometres of walking paths in the area covering varied terrain including marshes, dunes, hills, ponds and rivers and including the Côte d'Opale.

  • For information on walking routes from the Pas-de-Calais Office of Tourism: Click here

The Parc Naturel Régional (Regional Parks authority) of Nord Pas-de-Calais has established country pubs set up specifically for ramblers. These Estaminets de Randonnée offer food, drinks, tourist information and games.

  • For information on the Estaminets de Randonnée: Click here

Mountain Biking and Cycling

There are many cycling routes in Picardy and Nord Pas-de-Calais; most routes are flat or slightly hilly. Tourist offices usually offer maps and information on bike routes.

Pas-de-Calais has 32 well-marked cycling routes covering varied terrain. The majority of dedicated routes are signposted with advice given as to suitability and distance.

  • For information on cycling routes from the Pas-de-Calais Office of Tourism: Click here

The Ligue de Picardie Cyclotourism promotes bicycle touring of the Picardy region. Member clubs organise rides and tours.

  • For the Ligue de Picardie Cyclotourism website: Click here (in French)

Watersports

In Picardy, watersports enthusiasts can enjoy a wide range of activities on sea as well as inland including sailing, speedsailing, sandsailing, canoeing and kayaking. The Oise and the Somme rivers have hundreds of miles of river available for enjoyment.

  • For further information from the Picardy Office of Tourism: Click here

Horse Riding

Equestrians will find a well-established equestrian history in Picardy, with Chantilly (located in Picardy) being a popular French equestrian attraction. There are many stables where guides can be hired, lessons taken and from which horses can be rented. The Baie de Somme (Bay of Somme) is a popular area for riding.

  • For information from the Picardy Office of Tourism about horseback riding as well as links to equestrian centres: Click here

For Somme-specific information, contact the Departemental Commitee of Equestrian Tourism.

  • Departemental Commitee of Equestrian Tourism (Somme)
    At
    : Rue de la Gare, 80860 Morlay-Ponthoile
    Tel: 03 22 27 07 11

Horse riding is also popular in Pas-de-Calais. For information contact Tourist Offices or the Comité Départemental de Tourisme Equestre du Pas de Calais (Pas-de-Calais Departmental Committee for Equestrian Tourism)

  • For the Comité Départemental de Tourisme Equestre du Pas de Calais website: Click here