Top 3 Nature Destinations I Detours in France

Naturalist Escape at the Baie de Somme

A popular destination for Ile-de-France residents, the Bay of Somme still has a few surprises in store. As long as you walk and open your senses wide, it sanctuary of nature and traditions reveals the riches of your ecosystemhidden in salt marshes, mudflats and mollières… A beautiful relaxing weekend in perspective.

What to do in the Bay of Somme?

Crossing the bay at low tide

Spread over 72 km2, the Somme estuary can be explored twice a day. This flow allows you to slide through it and discover another world: the schorre, an expanse of sparse vegetation, flooded only at high tides; the slippery and muddy channels with sometimes powerful currents ; Ihe mollières, meadows arose on which salt meadow sheep graze. And this environment is full of life. Depending on the season and season, you might see hunters heading to the floating huts rising with the tide – duck hunting is a long tradition here, shrimp fishermen, cockle pickers, mussel farmers… aster (or pig’s ear) and glassware. One hundred professionals still make a living from this activity. The harvest is sold to local restaurants or exported, mainly to the Netherlands. Try it, it’s delicious!

Watch birds, seals and go fishing on foot

Recognized as the Grand Site of France, the Bay of Somme is one of the most important passages for migratory birds (see Parque Marquenterre). With patience and a good pair of binoculars, the guides will take you to observation points to drive out whistling ducks, teals, red shank, Eurasian curlews, oystercatchers… It is also possible to approach this avifauna by kayak, with Sea Kayaking and the Bay of Seals Va’a Club in Saint-Valery. It is also here, near the Pointe du Hourdel, that the largest French seal colony is found. 400 sea calves and 100 gray seals settled there. The Picardie Nature association takes care of them and offers observation sessions. Finally, for fishing enthusiasts, Sylvain Labbé, the only expert instructor in the bay, takes his clients fishing on foot (shrimp, cockle, razor clams, etc.) and learn surf-casting by the seaa technique that consists of casting your line beyond the first waves.

Hiking on the Opal Coast

Route des Caps connects Boulogne to Calais via Caps Gris-Nez and Blanc-Nez. An airy and spectacular territory made up of cliffs, dunes, villages and agricultural forests. To be discovered while roaming on four wheels, as well as walking along one end of the GR®120, taken at its most dizzying.

Which itinerary on the Côte d’Opale?

Bologna as a starting point

Boulogne-sur-Mer is a good starting point. Incredible city. Popular, shaped by fishing, your image does not match your interest. Close to the port and the fish market, the semi-detached houses in the Beurière district – two to three staggered streets – recall the social life of sailors of yesteryear. Especially, the upper city hides a little-known old center, surrounded by walls and endowed with a castle. Who knows that the belfry is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

From Wimereux to Cap Gris-Nez

Stop at Wimereux, a resort that lives to the rhythm of semi-bourgeois tourism, with its chic villas and beach huts. In the distance, Ambleteuse and her fort dance through the spray. The building testifies to an intervention by Vauban, who, in the 19th century,and century, the harbor entrance was protected by this beautiful fort. The next step is called Audresselles. a beautiful village to the low houses with blue shutters. The road then sinks into the earth, delivering a beautiful agricultural patchwork. Dirty tractors, market gardens, dairy cows and large farms: this is the scene around Audinghen and Tardinghen. History fans will stop at the Atlantic Wall Museum, geography fans ata house on the Deux-Caps website. The Gris-Nez is just steps away. Parked in the cape car park, just follow the small path to the viewpoint to embrace the strait, the lighthouse, the white cliffs of Kent (weather permitting)…

Hike to Cap Blanc-Nez

Past Wissant, where a plaque affixed to a house reminds us that de Gaulle stayed here, here is the village of Strouanne. A small parking lot is next to the road on the left. The GR120 reveals its interest: the sea and its tireless work of mining, the wet shore at low tide, in the distance, the dry line of the limestone cliff of Cap Blanc-Nez, the green-brown chessboard of plows and meadows . The path progresses like this until a foot of wall, in Cran d’Escalles. It then climbs sharply towards Blanc-Nez. On the right, the village of Escalles, nestled in a valley, well worth a look. Once you reach the cape, all that remains is to see the obelisk planted outdoors, a reminder of the First World War. And the constant stream of ships leaving the port of Calais. The return to the parking lot is done by bus.

Navigation in the Audomarois swamp

In Saint-Omer, in Pas-de-Calais, this territory is considered the last market gardening polder in France. Even in decline, agricultural activity continues as tourists discover by boat (boat) this amazing ecosystem of canals and fields, classified as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO since 2013.

quick history

As a reminder, the swamp dates back to IXand century, when monks drained part of this wetland to make it arable. in the XVand century, a dense network of canals was created to serve the plots and facilitate traffic… by boat. Today, of the 3,700 ha, approximately 400 ha are still cultivated by about thirty horticulturist families. Added to this is a breeding activity, as well as arable agriculture.

What to see in the Audomarois swamp?

The “above ground” life of canals

It is therefore by boat that you have to enter the polder. 170 kilometers of canals and ditches (wateringes and watergangs) serve more than 13,000 plots. Aboard a bacôve, a large boat 9.60 m long used to transport crops, we crossed this labyrinth to find unusual human and animal life. Low and long houses, typical of Audomaroiswalkways over canals, cremona gates to regulate the flow, launching winches, narrow and long fields (the light ones) returned to willows and rushes, organic soil gardens, compartments (set of land) to support housing… the landscape is disconcerting, silent. A handful of residents live permanently in this labyrinth. Some even use their bacove to reach a patch of garden or a field. Latest news, a postman still delivers mail to these residents by boat, it’s the last in France!

The fauna of the Audomarois swamp

Integrated regional natural park of the caps and swamps of Opal, the audomarois marsh is also a nature sanctuary. The boat trip proves this. Along the channels, we cross the Aa channel, we see ducks fly, frighten a heron. Green frogs, herons, coots, wild ducks… are at home here. In the Romelaëre reserve, accessible on foot from the village of Clairmarais, it is possible to observe the rare heron (little heron), Grail of ornithologists.