Name one French coastline. Great. Now name another. Can’t? Here are all 36.
Despite a number of recent high-profile terrorist attacks, France remains the world’s most visited country. The numbers are going up, in fact: last year, the French welcomed 89 million foreign tourists, 8% more than in 2016.
But how familiar are those visitors with the many splendors of France? Here’s a test: quickly, name your favorite French museum, city, wine region (1) and beach. Most likely answers: the Louvre, Paris, Bordeaux (or Burgundy) and the Côte d’Azur.
Hot and glamorous, the Côte d’Azur is the jewel in the crown of French seaside tourism. It’s also crowded and pricey. However, as this map shows, it’s just one of 36 named coastlines stretching along the country’s Atlantic and Mediterranean shores.
Commonly referred to in English as the French Riviera, the Côte d’Azur covers the eastern part of France’s Mediterranean coast. The term was coined by Stéphen Liégeard, who used it as the title for his 1887 book about his travels along the coast of the Provence in France and beyond, to Genoa in Italy. ‘Azure’ is the heraldic term for ‘blue’; he was perhaps inspired by his home département of Côte d’or (2). ‘Côte d’Azur’ quickly caught on, but only for the French part of the coast.
Hoping to emulate the success of their azure counterpart, many other French coasts were named soon thereafter, often after minerals, metals or colors (3). Each has its own particular history, climate, geography and charm. Below is a sample of some of the more remarkable stretches.
The Côte d’Opale (Opal Coast) was named in 1911 by local Édouard Lévêque, in homage to the region’s changeable light. Go here for two illustrious capes: Blanc-Nez (‘White Nose’) and Gris-Nez (‘Grey Nose’), the closest point between Europe and England, only 34 km (21 mi) from the white cliffs of Dover.
The Côte Fleurie (Flowered Coast) refers to the flowering apple trees in the interior. Dotting the coast are Deauville, Honfleur and other renowned seaside resorts – not forgetting Balbec, the fictional one from Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu.
The beaches of the Cote de Nacre (Mother-of-pearl Coast) are better known by their D-Day code names: Gold, Juno and Sword.
The Baie du mont Saint-Michel (Bay of Mont Saint-Michel): A Unesco World Heritage site, this part of the Golf of Saint-Malo dividing Brittany from Normandy is dominated by the Mont Saint-Michel, a tidal island topped by a medieval abbey and pilgrimage site.[ . . . ]
Read full article at BIG THINK: Tired of the Côte d’Azur? France has 35 other named coastlines | Big Think