The Somme Bay is a beautiful nature area on the coast of Picardy. Steep cliffs, impressive chalk cliffs, beaches, wide plains with salt marshes and mud flats alternate. Walking is the best way to enjoy the nature around the largest estuary in France. We have hiked several routes in this area. They are all different. Fortunately, they have one thing in common: they are all fabulous. We’ll take you to the best walks in the Bay of the Somme. Get your hiking boots on!
Our favourite walks in the Somme Bay
We think these are the very best walks in the Bay of Somme. The nice thing is that it is an undiscovered area in the northwest of France. We hardly met anyone on our walks. We were literally alone with nature.
The chalk cliffs around Mers-les-Bains
We start our walk at the beginning of the boulevard. We are immediately in luck. The stately villas look beautiful along the boulevard. The colourful balconies are especially a delight for the eyes.
We climb to the top of the cliff north of the village. From this spot, we gain a wonderful view of Mers-les-Bains. We arrive at the statue of Notre-Dame de La Falaise. The Virgin Mary is looking towards the sea. She had to protect the local fishermen from the dangers of the water. The route then follows quiet country roads back to the village. There will be a separate blog about the beautiful village of Mers-les-Bains. In that blog we will elaborate on the sights along the way.
Hiking around the picturesque village of Ault
About 100 years ago, Ault was a seaside resort with grandeur. The village no longer has that status. But Ault has another trump card. The view of the towering cliffs and chalk cliffs is phenomenal. That makes the place an ideal starting point for a lovely walk.
From the coast, we walked a little way inland. The small lighthouse of Ault is a nice landmark for us. We passed a small campsite. The guests here have it first rate: their view of the coast and the cliffs is unequalled. On a deserted country road, we couldn’t complain ourselves about the panorama either. Below us, numerous lakes lay amidst the green meadows. Cows graze in front of the highly stacked hay bales. In the distance, one field stood out. Its bright red colour so vibrant. When we got closer, it turned out to be an immense field of poppies. The red roses were swaying noiselessly in the wind.
Then we walked into an area full of pools. Some were small, others large. The water birds went flying in and out. It was the middle of the breeding season, and they were looking for food for their offspring. Then followed a somewhat difficult stretch. The path was barely visible because of the high grass, nettles and gorse. We zip the bottom part back on to our shorts. We don’t want to get scratches or itchy spots. Fortunately, that only lasted a short time and then we came to a more passable path.
We walked the last part all the way back to Ault over the pebble beach. It was low tide; the sea had withdrawn quite a bit. The view of the village and the nearby rocks just got better and better. And so we reached the end of our beautiful walk around Ault.
Looking for the seals at Le Hourdel
Le Hourdel forms the northern cape of the Bay of the Somme. It is traditionally a small fishing village. Its beacon is the lighthouse at the far end. However, fishing boats are finding it increasingly difficult to access Le Hourdel due to the silting up of the bay.
On this walk, we look for the largest seal colony in France. At the right time, hundreds of seals are sunbathing on the sandbanks that have fallen dry. However, we were just a bit too early. The tide was not yet fully out. Unfortunately, the only thing we saw was a dead seal on the deserted pebble beach.
We did see the “Blockhaus”. One of the many bunkers the Germans built as part of the Atlantic Wall. After about 3 kilometres, we left the path along the pebble beach. For a short while, we walked through a dune area. Then we came to a quiet country path along a camping site. We walked through some small hamlets.
Finally, we ended up at Maison de la Baie de Somme. This is a small museum about the origin and the evolution of the bay. An ideal stop on this hike. From there, we walked north again along a quiet country road. On our left were several lakes. There was a lot of activity. It turned out that this area is an important industrial area for gravel extraction. Near Le Hourdel we walked along an almost dry river. The boats were almost completely on dry land. Sailing is not possible there for the time being.
The beautiful village of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and its surroundings
In our opinion, the nicest place in the Bay of the Somme is Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. The village is situated like a long ribbon on the river Somme. This hike not only shows off the beauty of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, but also its surroundings. We walk through sometimes steep and narrow alleys, where colourful houses provide an attractive picture but we also stroll through the flowery neighbourhoods around the Herbarium. On the quayside along the Somme, one beautiful villa after another is standing. In the old town, we visit the small but beautiful church.
Outside the village, one of the highlights is the Seamen’s Chapel, beautifully situated on a hill. From there, we enjoy a wonderful view of the bay and Cap Hornu. On the other side we can see Le Crotoy. Because there is so much to view, there will soon be a separate blog about Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. Then we will also go deeper into the sights to see. Most of them are on this walking route, by the way.
The Dunes of Authie
This walk is the shortest of all. But the variety of landscapes and views makes it perhaps the most beautiful of all the circular walks we did in this area.
At this early hour, the car park is completely deserted. We walk into the area via a footbridge. The first metres go through a small wood. Soon, we arrive at a clearing. A roe deer is grazing in the meadow, right in front of us and unsuspecting. But soon he notices us, looks at us and runs off. Then we turn left and notice that we are now really walking in the dune area. Sandy paths alternate with grassy areas.
At every bend, the view is different. We see white dunes, dunes overgrown with bushes and parts of dunes that are more wooded. From the sound of croaking, we can tell that we are approaching a pond. Indeed, we reach a small lake. We don’t see any frogs, but we can hear them clearly. They provide us with a tuneful morning concert. Further on, we have a beautiful view of the wide surroundings in this varied dune area.
Then we walk back to the car park. We saw no-one during the whole walk, only the roe deer, what peace and quiet in this beautiful area. At the meadow, we stand eye to eye with a roe deer once more. Could it be the same one as at the start? This one also runs away gracefully with big bounding leaps. A nice ending to a short, but beautiful hike.
Mudflat hiking in the Bay of Authie
Mud flat walking in the Bay of Authie
The Bay of Authie is the little sister of the Somme Bay. Less extensive, but at least as beautiful. The bay lives to the rhythm of the tides. When dry, it creates a unique walking area. But it is also treacherous. That’s why we explored the area with a guide.
Our guide Odile is already waiting for us when we put on our boots. She takes us through the dry area on the banks of the Authie. A group of horsemen passes us. They are riding the typical horses of the region, descendants of a Norwegian breed of horse. The area is heavily vegetated. Various edible plant species, such as sea lavender, are present. Every now and then, she lets us taste a leaf of some of it. The salty taste makes for tasty snacks. “We are walking through the gardens of the sea,” says Dorine. She shows us a few specimens of the smallest snail in the world. It is very common in this area and is no bigger than a pinhead. These snails are the favourite food of the ducks that come here.
The artificial lakes in the area with hidden huts are remarkable. It appears that these are intended for duck hunting. It is very popular in this region. The decoy ducks have to lure the prey to the lake. The hunters have a perfect target from their hut.
On the banks of the Authie, the numerous sandbanks are a striking feature. They are the domain of the birds. On the other side is the village of Berck. Seals in large numbers come there to sunbathe on the sandbanks. We see a few of them swimming right in front of us. When they notice us, they go under and disappear from sight.
At high tide, the water from the river enters the dried-up area through numerous ditches. These ditches are hardly visible, under the lush vegetation. This is where the danger lies if you go into the area on your own. People get trapped by the rising water. On our way back, we also notice that the ditches were slowly filling up. Our guide knew the way and led us safely back to the starting point. In those two hours, we learned a lot about the flora and fauna in this unique area.
This area is only safe to walk in at low tide. Never go out on your own, because it is dangerous. A good guide who knows the area like the back of her hand is Odile. You can book her via her website. Unfortunately, she only speaks French.
Other walks in the Bay of Somme
This is just a few of the many possibilities that walking paradise the Bay of the Somme offers. Here are some other beautiful routes according to experts.
Round Parc du Marquenterre
Around the bird paradise Parc du Marquenterre, there is a beautiful walking route of 16 kilometres. You will see several observation points, mussel breeding grounds, the lighthouse of Le Hourdel and Saint-Valery-sur-Somme.
The dunes of Royon
The coastline of Fort-Mahon consists of beautiful sandy beaches. The yellow-marked walking route Dune de Royon shows you the most beautiful spots. You admire the special flora and fauna in the dune area. The route is 4 km long.
Walk from Valery-sur-Somme to Le Crotoy
A challenging trip is the crossing from Saint-Valery-sur-Somme to Le Crotoy. When the sea water retreats, the inlet falls dry. So you can cross the Somme. It is an intensive trip. Always make the crossing with a guide, on your own it is life-threatening.
Everything you want to know about walking in the Somme Bay
The Somme Bay is located in the northwest of France, in Picardy.
The easiest way is to get there by car.
Circular walk near Mers-les-Bains
Walk near Ault
Walk Le Hourdel
- Length: 10 kilometres
- Route description (in French)
- No GPS track available unfortunately
Walk through the dunes of Authie
Walk near Saint-Valery-Sur Somme
All walks are marked in yellow.
- Au Souffle de vert in Bouvaincourt sur Bresle. A beautiful old country house with an attractive interior. In the room, you’ll feel like a prince or princess. Personal touch and excellent breakfast.
- El Brise du Large Maison d’Ault in Ault. Book a room with sea view and you will experience the most beautiful sunset. The quiet garden or the roof terrace are great places to be.
- La Terrasse in Fort Mahon. Again, book a room with a sea view. The location of the hotel near the beach is unique. The breakfast room does lack atmosphere.
This is the list of all accommodations in Bay of the Somme.