The Somme Bay


The Somme Bay is one of the most beautiful nature reserves in France. It is about 6.000 hectares and it is a popular place for (migratory) birds, which mainly retreat to the Marquenterre, the nature reserve north of the bay. In the nature reserve you will find many hiking trails and also an educational center.

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The 'aerial photo' below, picked from Google Maps, gives a nice picture of the mouth of the Somme!

aerial picture Somme Bay

South of the bay lies Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme, a town with a rich historical past. In the medieval centre, you can wander in the narrow streets. You can go for a nice walk to the Cap Hornu, or even further to the Cap Hourdel, from where you have a beautiful view over the bay and Le Crotoy, the seaside resort on the northern side of the bay.

Le Crotoy

At low tide, the water pulls away from the bay and the area becomes dry . You can make the crossing ( La Traversée ), through the mud flats and the salt marshes under the guidance of a guide. With a bit of luck you can even see some seals on the sandbanks.

More to the north lies Fort Mahon, where you can make beautiful walks in the dunes or along the wide beaches, bordered in the North by the mouth of the Authie.

The Somme

The department 'Somme' is located in the Nord-Pas de Calais-Picardie region and is surrounded by the Pas de Calais, Aisne, Oise and Seine Maritime departments.

The river 'Somme' is located in the North of France. She has a length of 245 kilometers. It originates in Fonsomme, just north of Saint-Quentin and runs along the cities of Saint-Quentin, Ham, Péronne, Amiens and Abbeville to the North Sea.

The estuary is located between Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme and Le Crotoy in a deeply cut bay. The river bridges a difference in height of just 86 meters and thus flows very quietly. This is also reflected in her name, which comes from the Gallic "Samara" and means "the quiet".

The main attractions along the Somme are:

Hiking in the Marquenterre

The Natural Park of the Marquenterre was opened in 1973. The bird sanctuary is an integral part of the nature reserve of the Bay of the Somme.

You can take a walk around the nature park. The length is 16 kilometers, of which a few kilometers over the loose sand. The walk starts in Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont, on the road that leads to the sea. A path leads from the parking lot to the sea, through the dunes. After about 3.5 km you get a magnificent view of the sea and the wide beach.

You turn left and follow the water line. Along the way you will see the piles on which the 'bouchots' (the small French mussels) are grown. After about 4 kilometers you arrive at the bay of the Somme. On the other side you can see the Lighthouse of Le Hourdel and more to the left Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme.

On the left is the Bird park of the Marquenterre. After another 4 kilometers you turn left, again towards Saint-Quentin-en-Tourmont. With the help of your card below, you reach your starting point again.

Marquenterre kaart

Crossing the Somme Bay

Between Le Crotoy and Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme you can cross the bay of the Somme. The timing of the crossing depends on the tides. The walk is about 6 kilometers long and takes about three hours under the guidance of a guide.

Don't do this on your own. You can book a guided tour on following sites :

To give you an idea, we just show you some picture ...

... a walk between Le Crotoy and Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme

Somme crossing  Somme traversée

... by mudflats and salt marshes !

Somme mudflats  Somme marshes

... with wet feet and / or dirty shoes

Somme crossing  Somme traversée

Fort Mahon Plage

Fort Mahon Plage is a typical seaside resort, halfway between the Bay of the Somme and the Bay of the Authie. Both north and south of Fort Mahon there are beautiful walks along the beach and in the dunes. The walk on the map below is only 2.5 km long, but gives a nice overview of vegetation types in the area.

Sentier de la découverte

Nice walk through the dunes north of Fort Mahon. The various biotopes are provided with expert comments on the information boards.

Sentier découverte

Sentier du Royon

This path runs through the dunes of Royon, which lie between Fort Mahon and Quend Plage.

Sentier Royon

Sentier des pêcheurs

This path is on the south side of the bay of the Authie. The path is not easy to find, but the huge beach invites for an exploration "at random". Berck sur Mer is located on the other side of the bay.

Sentier des Pecheurs