Between canals, gates, domains and intertwined marshes that flow into the sea, the Baie des Veys is filled with land and sea treasures that support naturalists, breeders and farmers. Vincent travels through this unique bay in Normandy, on foot and by water, to meet these enthusiasts.
Veys Bay is a gulf of the English Channel that forms part of the Cotentin and Bessin Marshes Regional Natural Park. Located on the west coast, it collects the waters of four rivers, the Douve and the Taute on the one hand, the Vire and the Aure on the other.
In 1046, it was at low tide that William the Conqueror crossed the bay on horseback in the middle of the night to escape those who wanted to assassinate him. Its name Baie des Veys, therefore, comes from the ancient fords, the Grand Vey and the Petit Vey (big and small designating the level of the tide).
This passage was used for centuries to reach the north of the Cotentin because it made it possible to avoid the dangers of crossing the swamps. It consists of two visually distinct natural areas: fields and mudflats covered at each tide.
Polder dikes, which are artificial extensions of land reclaimed from water and floodgates, precisely delimit this entity in its downstream part.
A natural and difficult-to-cross border between the Cotentin and Bessin was gradually developed. More than 2,300 hectares were reclaimed on the coast between 1856 and 1972 to breed polders.
Upstream from the bay, the gates that prevent the entry of salt water into the interior marshes were gradually built from 1708 onwards. Like any estuary, the bay is an ecological passage, a place of important and complex exchange between marine and continental ecosystems.
Every day at the rhythm of the tides, the bay is transformed by its landscape but also by the salinity of the environment and the concentration of water in suspension. A biotope that stands out for its richness and rarity, constitutes a vast center for welcoming the life of migratory fauna. Thousands of ducks or small waders stop or stop there in winter.
The exceptional character of the bay is also manifested by the emblematic presence of the largest seal colony in France.
The Bay of Veys is also an economic zone of prime importance, as fishing and shellfish activities are concentrated there.
Marine invertebrates are widely studied for several reasons: monitoring environmental quality, coastal evolution, food resources for birds, fish, fish stocks, conservation of natural habitats… Their distribution in estuaries is linked to the evolution of the environment. Monitoring of natural habitats has been carried out through aerial photographs and in situ observation campaigns since 1972. In particular, they make it possible to highlight the progression of the salt pans in the Bay of Veys.
The particularity of the Bay of Veys is its hydraulic development: with its bridges, locks, gates and canals, the sea is contained and does not invade the land, unlike the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.
Thus, the land and vegetation are particularly preserved and suitable for agriculture and botany.
It was in the Pays de Caux that Viking ships first appeared, in 820. Their presence increased throughout the second half of the 9th century. It was during this same period that Charles the Simple, King of West Francia, concluded a pact with the Viking leader Rollon and his army to protect the territory: the famous Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. this deal
ceded the territory corresponding to Upper Normandy to the Normans. The Viking lands, however, will expand upon the conquests to form the Duchy of Normandy. This is how these first Normans arrived north of the Cotentin.
The story of Dreknor began in the fall of 1999, when a replica of a 15th-century Ukrainian Cossack galley entered the port of Cherbourg, under the intrigued gaze of Marc and Nathalie Hersent.
“Dreknor’s goal is to make the history of the Viking period known in Norman territory outside of books, films or conferences. People have the option to stop reading or leave the conference room. Whereas, if people board a boat, they will be forced to hear the story to the end. The aim is to do something fun by learning the true history of the Normandy Vikings, those who marked the history of the region »
In 2003, construction began on the boat, which lasted five years. A crazy dream, realized from afar by a team of determined and talented volunteers, gathered within the Dreknor Association – created by Nathalie Hersent and her husband in 2001 – which quickly became the center of interest, the pride and the symbol of an entire region. .