WARNING: This is all my opinion and you use this information at your own
risk (don't blame me if the beach is soaked).
The beach at Les Hemmes which is situated between Calais and Dunkirk
in France is a very cool beach for kite buggying. I went there
with two friends for the first time last year September (2004)
and we found to our detriment that we had got the tides wrong.
This is what prompted me to write this page hopefully to stop other
people making the same mistake. On the first two
days we where there the beach was being covered with water at high
tide and left a few centimetres of water over the beach when the
tide was out. The problem is you can't land
the kite anywhere on the beach with out getting it soaked, the only
spot to land was the last few metres before the dunes.
You need to get there during Neap tides.
Get hold of a tide table for Les Hemmes and check the high tide
levels, from what I have observed the tides need to be below 5.3m in order
for the beach not to be
covered at high tide. Obviously the more days the beach is not
covered with water the dryer it will be, so the more likely you
are to have a decent surface to buggy on. When we were there last year it
got quite busy when the
tides where favorable. There where kite boards and kite buggies,
and even a some guys learning to kite surf when the tide was in.
Good animation of how tides work
The beach on a good day.
The beach when it is wet. You can see the sand bank in the
distance, it was dry but quite soft.
Some details of the campsite thanks to Jamie Heath
The campsite is called “Camping Les Oyats” and the link below should take you through to some further info. The first one is their official site although it’s all in French. I booked via email last time as we don’t speak much French and their English isn’t great either!
There aren’t many shops/bars or anything within walking distance but it’s by far the best camp site along that stretch of beach for access and clean facilities. There is a bread van that comes every morning with bread, croissants and pan chocolates (a particular favourite!) and occasionally you’ll get the veg van arriving (although this is a little more unpredictable). There are supermarkets and shops just up the road though (about a 5 minute drive).
If you go “in-season” then there’s a little chip shop/bistro hut that’s tucked away down by the kids play area – I mention this because we didn’t find this until the 2nd visit!
Anyway, I hope you stick it on the trip itinerary. Just be mindful of the tide times as you don’t want to go when it’s wet!! (we made that mistake the first year).