For 56% of Picardians (according to a CSA survey), Baie de Somme is the strongest symbol of Picardie. Recognised as an exceptional open space, it is among the most beautiful bays in the world and is benefiting more than ever before from protective measures. Whether you’re enjoying a weekend of sports or staying in during the winter, Baie de Somme has dozens of things to do 2 hours from Paris. Pay close attention to what Picardians have to say: their advice and recommendations are a recipe for a successful stay.
Baie de Somme is the largest estuary in the Nord region of France, spanning nearly 72 km². Its extremely large opening into the Channel, running more than five kilometres from the headland of Hourdel to that of Saint Quentin en Tourmont, changes with the tides and seasons to offer exceptional scenery in which sky, land and sea mingle in subtle lights with nuances of grey, green and blue that have inspired painters and poets alike, from Colette and Hugo to Boudin, Seurat, Degas and Barquaval... soon to be followed by contemporaries such as Manessier.
To the south of Baie lies Pointe du Hourdel with its lighthouse and pebbles. On the opposite shore, the Marquenterre Ornithological Park forms the centre of the Baie de Somme Nature Reserve. Several trails allow you to discreetly observe migratory birds in their natural environment. Grab a pair of binoculars and discover their way of life. In the spring, the grey herons and white storks make their nests here, while the small islands and meadows contain avocets, oystercatchers and crested lapwings. Even the rare black stork can be seen at times. These protected natural environments are also home to numerous mammals. Switch from the bird to the horse and discover the surrounding area astride the Henson, the breed from Baie. Other surprises you may find on your journeys include the herds of salt meadow sheep that graze in the mollières and, in particular, the seals. These virtually died out during the 1950s, but today, thanks to protective measures, a colony has set up home in Baie. They can be observed from the coast with a pair of binoculars or a telescope. Observation sites are located along the ‘white route’ between Le Hourdel and Cayeux-sur-Mer. They can also sometimes simply be seen from the Saint-Valéry sur Somme quay.
A spot of sport between the sky and the sea?
Travelling on foot in Baie between Le Crotoy and Saint-Valéry is done with nature as your guide and gives you the chance to taste the famous salicornia, also called ‘passe-pierre’, a type of green sea-bean or salted pickle. Absolutely exquisite. Not forgetting the famous ‘Oreilles de Cochon’, a type of green leaf delicious in salads or cooked like spinach.
Take a tour of Baie as a family group on bicycle or on board a steam train. These open spaces naturally serve as sports grounds - and large ones at that! You can enjoy wind-related sports (windsurfing, sand yachting, speed sailing - all activities that have built the reputation of the Picardian coast and the north of the bay) and even sea kayaking in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.
In all seasons it’s best to book your hotel or guesthouse room in advance, so enchanting is Baie de Somme...
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