What better way to spend the weekend of Remembrance Day (11th November) than to sneak in a road trip to Somme in France. Somme is the setting for numerous battles in World War I. It is also a great place for nature hikes, casual meandering in quaint villages as well as outdoor activities like land sailing, canoeing and riverpath cycling.
Somme is 111km or about 1.5 hour from Calais. Perfectly manageable for a Friday after work departure to make the most of the weekend. The exit from the Eurotunnel train connects into the A16, a pleasant and well maintained highway, that brings you pretty much to Somme.
We stayed at Le Domaine du Val, a serene resort on a gentle slope in the Grand Laviers countryside, a 15 mins drive from the Bay of Somme. The resort is made up of 30 fully-equipped individual cosy chalets on stilts with on-street parking. Perched on the side of the hill, each of them looks out to the vast green open space. It is family and dog friendly. There is a heated kids play pool, a small gym, a friendly donkey, a couple of chickens, a playground and three hectares of greens to wonder about or enjoy a picnic.
Day 1: Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and Le Crotoy
After a breakfast of croissant and baguette that we pre-ordered from the hotel, the kids had some crazy fun at the indoor heated pool. We then got organised and set-off to the Bay of Somme.
We parked at Parking de la Place des Pilotes, which is a car park right in the heart of medieval village of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. Drive down scenic cobbled street Quai Blavet with River Somme on your right and the old docks on your left to get to this car park.
Beautiful French pastries
About 100m from where we parked, we came head-to-head with Watterlot. It was love at first sight. We were charmed by the rows and rows of meticulously made, vibrant and beautiful classic French pastries. There were eclairs, religieuse, Paris-brest, tarte tatin and many other selections. Not only were they a work of art, they were fresh and delicious. Needless to say, this visit wasn’t the only visit for the weekend. Please be warned that there were hardly any pastries left when we came back later in the afternoon.
Wonder about in town
Walked along the cobbled pedestrianised streets of this medieval town. Go up the little hill and admire well maintained the old houses. There are some great views back to the bay from there.
Walk along the river trail
There is a wide pedestrian path that stretches out to sea along the river Somme.
Porte Jeanne d’Arc
At the end of the trail you will find Porte Jeanne d’Arc, or “The door of Joan of Arc”. This iconic character walked passed this door in December 1430, enroute to her execution in Rouen.
Ride an Old World Train
We thought of taking the steam engine train ride to Le Crotoy along the coast of the bay. The railway line was built by the soldiers for the Battle of Somme in World War I. But we gave it a miss instead because of timing. One to come back for next time.
Onwards to Le Crotoy
So, we picked up the car and drove over to Le Crotoy instead. We cruised down the main stretch of Rue de la Porte du Pont Do. There are quite a few shops, cafes and restaurants, but we didn’t stop as we wanted to go check out the famous beach. The beach was wide and deep and went on forever. It is mecca for land sailing in the summer. Another one to come back for. We parked on Promenade Jules Noiret and walked along the beach. As it was quite windy on this northern end of the bay, our walk didn’t last long.
Fresh seafood heaven
We rounded off the day with an amazing meal at Bellevue in Le Crotoy. It is away from the main stretch of shops and restaurants. It faces the bay and has alfresco seating to catch a summer sunset. The seafood platter was so fresh, sweet and plentiful. Do call in advance to book as it is normally fully booked.
Please do let me know what else I have missed in Somme. Would love to hear from you.
If you are interested to read a little bit more about Somme and the surrounding area, I found the Lonely Planet Normandy and D-Day Road Trips travel guide pretty handy.