Birdwatching at Sandboys

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photo by Alex Burson

Among many good reasons why you might choose the Baie De Somme area for a holiday, is the fact that it’s one of the best places in France for ornithology.  Hundreds of different species of birds can be seen in the Bay, in the Marquenterre Bird Reserve, and even on the lake that’s only a hundred metres or so from our holiday apartments, The Pines, and The West Wing.

Recent visitors, the Burson family, spent a couple of evenings enjoying the view of birds from the hide overlooking this lake, within a short stroll of their front door, where egrets, spoonbill and various types of cormorant can be spotted along with geese, ducks and other wild birds.

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photo by Alex Burson

We were fortunate that young Alex Burson, who is both a keen naturalist and a talented photographer, sent us a few of his photos, which we are very happy and proud to publish here, (and soon in other parts of our website). We particularly liked his photo of an inquisitive seal, one of the colony on the sands of the Authie Bay between Berck and Fort Mahon, which we are publishing in another post.

The Marquenterre Bird reserve is only a 10 minute drive from any of our gites, and the Somme Bay, with its marshes, sand banks, bird life and seascapes, as well as the delightful old towns of St Valery and Le Crotoy is reachable in 20 minutes or so.

For more information on bird and seal watching in the area use the links below.

The Independent

Marquenterre Bird Reserve

Birdforum

free bird watching hide, northen France, Baie De Somme

Evening view from the birdwatchers’ hide at The Pines ~ photo Alex Burson

 

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Two Sundays in Northern France

Boats on moorings at Le Hourdel

Two Sundays have passed since I last wrote here.  On the first we were treated to lunch at the Restaurant “Le Parc aux Huitres” at Le Hourdel.  This little fishing village stands on a spit of sand and shingle at the mouth of the Somme estuary, and it’s a favourite spot for tourists in spring and summer because of the the huge wide skies, great views across the bay – and the colony of seals that have made the place their home.

Not far away is the historic and picturesque old port of St Valéry sur Somme, which has an almost perfectly preserved “old town” quarter entirely within its ancient formidable protective walls.

Le Parc aux Huitres - recommended for lunch!

Le Parc aux Huitres serves mostly seafood, as you would expect, and we were very impressed by the quality of our meal which we chose from the fixed price menu.  My Sole Meuniere was excellent, and Sue judged her Aile de Raie (Skate wing) one of the best dishes she has eaten in France. We’ve been here 10 years, so that is high praise.

I have to mention my desert, “Moelleux au Caramel” I think it was called. It was a fabulously soft and buttery pudding with an intense caramel flavour surrounded by a little moat of Creme Anglaise custard.  Think of the most deliciously moist sticky toffee pudding ever, remove the sickly sweet sticky sauce but double the caramel toffee intensity, and you might be getting close.

As we were being treated I don’t know exactly what the bill came to, but I think it was about 110 euros for 3 people including wine, aperitifs and coffee.

Hesdin, in the Seven Valleys region

On the following Sunday we took part in a Treasure Hunt organised by some friends who live near Hesdin, in the “Seven Valleys” region, about half-an-hour inland. About the arguments that took place between our team-mates, a very competitive and apparently very happily married couple, the least said the better.  I simply drove, as fast as I could, to the places the navigator told me to go – when he wasn’t being interrupted and contradicted by his wife.  Sue worked out some of the cryptic clues and ran around spotting answers to questions.  Somehow we managed to come second.

At the end of the outing, with drinks in hands and all the arguments over and done with, our team-mates related the story of their first meeting. It was on a motor rally when she had been “volunteered” to navigate for him.  We expressed some surprise that they had ever got around to a second date, let alone ended up married!

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day, and in our search for the Treasure Hunt answers we saw some wonderfully pretty villages, as well as woods, valleys, streams, old mills and other sights, that we might otherwise have bypassed or missed in passing.

If you spend a holiday in this area we recommend at least one day taking in some of the pretty countryside in the Seven Valleys, and, of course, a trip out to Le Hourdel to see the seals – and maybe lunch at Le Parc aux Huitres.

Restaurant “Le Parc Aux Huitres”
Le Hourdel
80140 Cayeux Sur Mer

Tel: 0033 (0)3 22 26 61 20
www.leparcauxhuitres.com

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