Nord Pas de Calais Camps Trail
(c) Marcus Roberts (2016). We gratefully acknowledge the support of an anonymous foundation and the Muriel and Gershon Coren Charitable Foundation.

Touring the Area

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Touring the Camps and Slavery Trail This innovative 100 mile heritage trail, for motorists and cyclists, has been created in memory of the tens of thousands of slave labourers brought by the Nazis, to the Pas de Calais, and who suffered and many of whom died, in order to build the Atlantic Wall and to construct the vast V Weapon bases in the region. There were 19 slave labour camps for Jews along the coast-line, with some of the camps in sight of England and slave labourers drawn from 27 nations, were also enslaved by the Germans in the area, with many suffering in creating V Weapon sites. The trail is based on original research carried out by JTrails, to contribute to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's, 'Camps and Ghettoes Encyclopaedia', and as a contribution to the Nord Pas de Calais 'Sites of Memory' tourism programme. The trail is a circular route through the scenically spectacular Nord Pas de Calais region, which is a popular French holiday destination and which values its tourist, commercial and cultural links with Kent and England. The region also includes some of the best beaches, resorts and tourist attractions in France, nationally protected environments and areas of out-standing beauty, medieval walled towns, rich historical links with England, important historical sites, such as 'Field of the Cloth of Gold', medieval battlefields, such as Agincourt, and its own distinctive cuisine, excellent local sea-food (and of course duty-free), traditions and a local dialect which still includes some English words. The trail can be sampled in a week-end, or over several days, along with other local attractions. There is ample local accommodation to suit most needs, though booking in advance is probably recommended in the main tourist season. For the cyclist, cycling in France is usually a pleasure, as the French treat cyclists with respect (and motorists give cyclists real priority and patience in the small beach resorts) and there are some excellent cycle-ways in the area along key routes. It is also possible to cycle on some of the beaches which are kilometres long. This route would best suit cyclists with some experience as the coastal section, while lofty and exhilarating, has some long but well graded climbs and descents and there are busier sections through towns such as Calais and Boulogne. The interior section of the tour has a different character with long rural vistas and the landscapes of the mouth of the River Canche and the Seven Valleys area. Calais Port is the only un-beautiful location on the tour, but can be rapidly traversed, excepting the duty-free shops! The cross-Channel ferry services cater for cyclists and provide cycling information and local tourism centres usually very helpful.
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