Those who have been reading my writings for a while – and have a very good memory – might remember that I have already written a post on the Bay of the Somme back in 2016. Then I went on a weekend trip with my entire family to the area. This time around however, it was just my dad and I, and we only went for a day. And brought our racing bikes. Enough new insights to write about, I figured.
Since we only had one day to rediscover the area, it was of course an early morning. Little after 6:30am, we loaded the car, got in and drove South-West. Our first destination was after about two hours; the commune of Rue. This stop was mainly to stretch our legs, but there is a really lovely chapel and 16th century belfry. Worth checking out!
From Rue, it’s only about fifteen more minutes along the scenic route to Le Crotoy. Our first view of the Bay of the Somme. The tide was still low but it wouldn’t be long before it would flood the area. During low-tide, it’s possible to walk across the bay but it’s not advisable to do so without a guide. The tide might surprise you and that just doesn’t sound like fun anymore. From the opposite side, you can then take a train ride back if you don’t want to or can’t wait for the next low tide. I haven’t done either of those things, but maybe one day. It does sound like fun.
When we arrived, it was already getting pretty busy in Le Crotoy even though it was only 10am- it was August and the French were on holiday as well after all. That of course made us fear for the crowds in the hotspot of the bay; Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. And indeed, we hit traffic on our way to that town. Not a good sign! We were fortunate to find a (free) parking spot along the road close to the crossing of the Route d’Eu and the Chemin de la Sablière. From there it was only a ten minute walk to one of the main points of interest that I wanted to visit; the Chapel of the Marins de Saint-Valery sur Somme (Quite a mouthful!). From there you have a lovely view on the bay and there is a walking path down to Cap Hornu and the beach.
Along the beach we continued to the Quai Jeanne d’Arc to the center of town. And that’s where it suddenly seemed like covid-19 was a thing of the past. There was a big market going on and there were people e-ve-ry-where. Time to abort our mission to walk all the way to the port! We took a side street, away from the market, and discovered some really lovely, colorful streets and houses around Rue des Pilotes and Rue des Bataliers. Empty streets! Much better! Following Rue Saint-Augustin we headed to the medieval part of the city. More charming corners with loads of typical flowers. Such a delight!
After stocking up on some sugars with a typical ‘Gateau Battu’ and some other French pastries, it was time to take our bikes and spent the rest of the afternoon discovering the area in a different way. We parked our car close to the lighthouse of Le Hourdel and planned to bike the 20 kilometers along the coast to the white cliffs in Ault.
From Le Hourdel to Cayeux-sur-mer, we had a really lovely, flat, paved bike path with amazing sea views. It was absolute bliss to ride there. A couple of times we had to dismount our bike for a patch of sand – our racing bikes have really thin tires, so it doesn’t take a lot to slip – but after only about half an hour, we reached the famous cabins of Cayeux-sur-mer.
To get from Cayeux-sur-mer to Ault, it was a bit more difficult. We ended up on the bigger roads and there was quite a bit of traffic. Not that much fun anymore. But that did mean we were able to move a bit faster. After about an hour and a half of cycling, we first laid eyes on the gorgeous cliffs of Normandy Alabastar Coast in Ault. It never fails to take my breath away.
We had planned to only go to Ault, but a bit further south, there was another beautiful viewpoint on the cliffs, at the Plage du Bois de Cise. It was only about five kilometers one way, but those weren’t flat anymore. Not at all. Time to shift gears and try not to ruin my brakes because it got quite steep, both up and down. But we made it. And it was so very, very worth it.
And then it was time to bike back to Le Hourdel. Fortunately the wind was now pushing us forward and in less than an hour we found ourselves back at our car. Sweet!
53 kilometers on the counter and of course we were pretty hungry by then. In Le Hourdel we didn’t find a place to have dinner, so we changed clothes, hopped back in the car and drove to Noyelles-sur-Mer. There we bumped into Le Rio, a camping with restaurant. We were immediately charmed by their lovely, sunny terrace and didn’t hesitate. A bowl of mussels for my dad and a salmon and fish salad for me accompanied by fries and some tasty cider; consider me sold. And that for a very, very reasonable price.
The perfect end to a top day in the Bay of the Somme. I absolutely loved the combination of exploring the towns by foot in the morning and then the nature by bike in the afternoon. Hopefully I’ll be able to travel more like this in the future!
(For those interested in our biking route, you can view it on my strava page.)