Northern France _ Bay of Somme _ Walk across the Bay of Somme© Benoit BremerNorthern France _ Bay of Somme _ Walk across the Bay of Somme© Benoit Bremer
©Northern France, Bay of Somme, Walk across the Bay of Somme|CRTC Hauts-de-France - Benoit Bremer

This Easter holiday, explore the Somme bay with the kids

For the Easter holidays, the mighty Somme Bay welcomes migratory birds who have travelled from afar to alight on this fertile landscape, where they find soulmates and build nests to lay their seasonal eggs… But there are also eggs aplenty on the foreshore. So slip on your wellies, sling your binoculars around your neck and head out into the bay to discover these natural treasures.

Northern France _ Le Crotoy _ Great Egret © CRTC Hauts-de-France-Stéphane BOUILLANDNorthern France _ Le Crotoy _ Great Egret © CRTC Hauts-de-France-Stéphane BOUILLAND
©Northern France, Le Crotoy, Great Egret |Hauts-de-France Tourisme_Stéphane BOUILLAND

What’s on earth is the foreshore?

This is a real restaurant for birds – one where you’ll find all the plant and animal matter that the sea has discarded. On it you’ll find clues to the species that live in the choppy waters of the Channel and the salt marshes of the estuary. Can you recognise obione leaves, samphire fragments, sand urchin ‘skeletons’, and the eggs of rays, dogfish and whelks? Sometimes you might luck out by coming across a rare seahorse skeleton…

Birdwatch in the Somme Bay

After identifying all these marine treasures, carry on towards Hourdel lighthouse, with your guide leading you along the invisible boundary of the Réserve Naturelle Nationale de la Baie de Somme, which protects the fragile species on the northern half of the estuary. It’s in this tranquil space that birds rest and feed. From a distance, with binoculars, look at the colours and sizes of the different species, including the protected common shelduck, remarkably hued and the size of a small goose. This unusual bird uses old rabbit burrows in the dunes to hatch its eggs (that would make for a very difficult Easter egg hunt, kids!). The Eurasian curlew, a great migrator on the way back from Africa, can be recognised by its long curved beak. And then there’s the elegant Eurasian spoonbill, which has only been coming to the bay for a few years now.

From a distance, watch the weird bananas sunning themselves

Crabs, worms, urchins, young salmon, prawns and fish are all choice dishes for the sporty seals that are the real stars of the bay. Also migratory, these 150kg creatures look like sunbathing bananas at low tide, laid out on the sand banks. Some of the females will be ready to give birth in June. The harbour seal, which had almost entirely disappeared from this coast, has returned to colonise the wide sand banks of the Somme Bay since it has become a protected space. From a distance, admire their smiley faces and half-closed eyes expressing their pleasure at the warm spring sunshine on their bodies.

Local's tip


Taste the bay at Le Bistrot de la Baie

Le Bistrot de la baie restaurant in Le Crotoy is ideal for ‘tasting the bay’ with kids. Its traditional local cuisine includes delicious mussels grown on bouchots (wooden stakes) in the north of the bay in 20 different recipes. The speciality, cream sauce, combines the flavour of mussels with other ingredients such as samphire, strong local Maroilles cheese and beer. There are also kids’ portions, or they can wait excitedly for the arrival of the catch of the day.

Céline, nature guide expert in the Somme Bay

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