Only a few hours drive from the Netherlands is the French Opal coast. An area that we pass most of the times when we were on our way to the south, but it’s now our goal. This area, rich with nature and beaches, is waiting to be explored!
If you would like to read another blog about hiking in a differnt part of France, maybe you like this story about hiking at the Ecrins/Queyras area.
Entre Les Deux Caps
Les Deux Caps are known for their white chalk cliffs and wide beaches. We park at Les Escalles and walk to the beach. It is still high tide, so the pebble beach is not that wide, but half an hour further it is already a lot wider. You can take several walks here. We walk to the Dover Patrol Monument, an obelisk from where you have a good view to all sides. During World War I, Allied traffic was protected by the Dover Patrol.
After our visit we drive to our house. We rented, through Airbnb, a cabin in Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont, a hamlet near Parc du Marquenterre and the town of Rue.
The cabin, together with 6 other cabins, is spread over a site with some greenery and ponds. The ad said ‘in the middle of nature’, which is not really true. We are a bit disappointed. It is wonderfully quiet, that’s true. And the cabin itself is well furnished. A lovely bed, a spacious and nice bathroom and a kitchen with everything you need. We only miss nice chairs to sit and a sharp bread knife.
Parc du Marquenterre
After a nice night we set off to explore the area. We first drive to Parc de Marquenterre. This is a bird sanctuary with more than 300 different birds. It is located against the Somme bay and consists of several lakes and lakes. But you will also find a forest area and grasslands. As a result, birds find this a nice area and during this period ducks in particular hibernate.
You can make several walks, the longest is about 6.5 km long and goes past 13 observation posts. At some posts there are guides with a viewer, at all posts there are information panels with the birds that you can spot. Although I did not expect it, there are quite a lot of visitors, but that is not really annoying anywhere because everyone is spread out throughout the park.
We see a lot of different birds, some really far away, but there is plenty to see. We especially enjoy the large groups of avocets, oystercatchers and ducks. There are also several storks and egrets. A feeding place has been created near the forest where and finches come. Here we see, among other things, greenfinches and apple finches.
The bay of the river Somme
After our visit to the park we drive to Pointe du Hourdel, a small hamlet with lighthouse where you can enjoy the view over the imposing Somme bay. Seals swim and several seals are resting on the sandbanks.
A beautiful sight. When the tide is really low, we go to Crotoy, onto the mudflats and enjoy the vast area at sunset.
The adventures of Jules Verne
The next day the weather is grey and showers are expected. We don’t feel like walking in the rain so we decide to go Amiens. This is a big city about an hour’s drive from the Somme bay. To the east of the city are the Hortillonnages, allotments on small islands, where you can sail in the season in between. It reminds me of Aalsmeer, with all its bridges and ditches.
We take a look at Notre Dame, the largest Gothic cathedral in France and are impressed by the beautiful stained glass windows.
Then we go to the Jules Verne museum. This is located in the house where Jules Verne lived from 1882 to 1900, together with his wife. A beautiful house with a lot of information and possessions of the adventurer and writer. We see several book covers, his workspace, parts of his ship he went on an expedition with and posters and other stuff from all the film adaptations of his stories.
In the evening we drive to the forest to look for the owl that we hear every night, but it keeps quiet. It’s really pitch black here and we see a lot of stars.
The next morning we make the walk to the beach. It is part of the longer route Les Crocs, of 16 km, which runs via the beach around the Parc du Marquenterre. The path is fenced off on both sides, which makes the experience a bit less, but the path runs through beautiful areas. We see many traces of animals, wild boars and deer.
At the beach we are impressed. It is enormously wide and completely empty. Wonderful, what a rest! We walk to the high tide line and as we walk back we see two deer. After a nice hot cup of tea we walk back
In the afternoon we visit Saint Valéry sur Somme, a beautiful and nice place on the Somme bay. The sun is shining and we enjoy the warmth and the beautiful houses. Because we still want to go for a walk, we don’t have enough time to visit the medieval city. We decide to come back tomorrow.
At the end of the afternoon we walk the southern part of the Les Crocs route, from Crotoy. This path is pretty wet and slippery. A crossing over the water is quite difficult, because the water is high. But it works!
A little later Joost discovers four wild boars! How very nice and strange to see them here, they walk over the salt marshes and mudflats, an area where I do not expect wild boars.
When walking back we also see a kingfisher! It’s been on our list for a long time! Unfortunately, it is lightning fast and we can’t enjoy it for long. We walk back and are tired but satisfied.
Our final day!
We first go to Saint Valéry. This time we park the car closer to the old town and walk past beautiful old houses, city gates, an old church and enjoy the view over the Somme. Very nice place!
Now it is not the season, but we think that when it is warmer there are quite a few terraces, restaurants and nice shops to enjoy.
We drive to the chapel, which is further down a hill. A striking architectural style with a seagull instead of a rooster in the top. Here we are surprised by a strange visitor.
A wild boar arrives through the nearby meadow! Huh! We are amazed. He seems to be used to people because he doesn’t shy away from them. Weird behavior for a boar. We are wary. Other tourists sitting on a bench do not walk away and he surprises with his muzzle, which is so strong that the man falls off the bench. We avoid it. The boar, that is, not the man.
After this strange meeting, we go home. We drive through the beach of Cap Griz Nez to get some fresh air. And then it’s over! A nice destination, close to the Netherlands, where we had a few wonderful days.