The Baie de Somme is one of the most beautiful places to visit in France. It lies in Picardy in northern France. It’s mainly a large nature reserve, home to magnificent birds and seals, offering visitors sumptuous scenery and delicious local specialties. If you’re planning a trip to the Baie de Somme, here are the 10 must-see things to do in the Baie de Somme.

1. Cross the Baie de Somme

Crossing the Baie de Somme

Crossing the Baie de Somme is such a unique and original activity that it tops our list of must-do Baie de Somme activities. It lasts around 3 hours, and you’ll need good walking shoes that won’t keep you from getting wet and sandy. A minimum of physical fitness is also required. We recommend you go with a guide, as you’ll need to cross (and return) at low tide to avoid being caught in the middle of the bay when the tide comes in. It’s also more interesting, as you’ll learn a lot along the way. Your guide will also be able to tell you about the different marine plants and what you can and can’t eat.

Although access to the bay is not controlled, the safest way to cross is with a guide. Every year, unwary people get caught in the rising tide…

Every year, the Baie de Somme hosts a highly original race: La Transbaie. Thousands of participants play with the tide to cross the bay and back between Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme and Le Crotoy (17 km) before the water rises …

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2. Seal watching

Take advantage of your stay in the Baie de Somme to observe the seals

Many visitors don’t know it until they come here, but the Baie de Somme is home to France’s largest seal colony. There are even 2 species: grey seals and marine calves, numbering several hundred individuals. You can easily observe them at low tide from Le Hourdel on the sandbanks. Alternatively, you may spot them poking their heads out of the water here and there at high tide. Bring binoculars or climb aboard a boat or pirogue for a better view.

Watching seals is a unique spectacle that would be a shame to miss during your stay in the Baie de somme. And don’t forget to respect the habitat and distances from these animals.

3. Visit the Parc du Marquenterre

Visit the Parc du Marquenterre is a things to do when visiting Baie de Somme

On foot, in a horse-drawn carriage or on horseback, enjoy an incredible interlude between land and sea. A visit to the Parc du Marquenterre is like visiting an open-air theater, where you can observe animals, especially birds, in perfect harmony without disturbing them. It’s undoubtedly one of the must-sees of the Baie de Somme.

The Parc du Marquenterre is located in the commune of Saint Quentin en Tourmont, next to Le Crotoy. At the heart of the Baie de Somme Regional Park, the Parc du Marquenterre is a 200-hectare nature reserve and refuge for thousands of birds, including 200 species of migratory birds.

There are different routes of varying lengths, with observation points along the way. To eat, there are picnic areas available on site, or a bistro will welcome you summer and winter alike.

It’s also an ideal activity for the whole family, with young and old alike free to roam at their own pace!

4. Eat locally

The Baie de Somme is full of culinary surprises, such as bouchot mussels.

The Picardy coast is famous for its fishermen, whether by boat or on foot. Enjoy local specialties and fresh catch in restaurants or takeaway from markets. Seafood platters, shrimps, cockles, salicornia and, of course, mussels are all on the menu and a must in the Baie de Somme. The fried mussel is an institution here. On the land side, pre-salted lamb reared in the bay and fed on salted grasses takes pride of place. Most restaurants are located in Saint Valéry, Le Crotoy and Le Tréport. But there are other good restaurants in Cayeux-sur-Mer, Ault, Le Bois de Cise and Mers-Les-Bains.

5. Enjoy the beaches of the Baie de Somme

The Baie de somme boasts some superb beaches, including Le Crotoy.

Beaches are, of course, one of the Baie de Somme’s must-sees. The region boasts a wide variety of magnificent beaches. These are mainly sandy beaches to the north of the bay, and pebble beaches to the south. Among the most beautiful beaches of the Baie de Somme are :

To the north, Fort-Mahon-plage and Quend-plage are neighboring towns. There are huge sandy beaches. Le Crotoy also has a beach. But because of the silt and marsh, swimming at Le Crotoy can be dangerous and moderately pleasant.

To the south are the pebble beaches of Cayeux-sur-Mer, Ault-Onival, Mers-les-Bains and Le Tréport. If your feet don’t hurt too much when you get in the water, you’ll enjoy a swim on a hot day. There’s also a small sandy beach at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme. However, it’s more suited to sandcastles than swimming.

6. Get around on the Baie de Somme steam train

Get around on the Baie de Somme steam train

Take a step back in time on the steam train from Le Crotoy to Cayeux-sur-mer. It’s one of the Baie de Somme’s must-sees. At 25 kilometers an hour for 1 hour, you’ll discover the Baiede in an unusual way. Look out of your window to see sheep grazing in the salt meadows uncovered at low tide, and spot hunters’ huts hidden in the marshes. At each stage of this 27-kilometer journey, you’ll see different landscapes and numerous species of local and migratory birds.

7. Stroll through the medieval area of Saint-Valéry

 Stroll through the medieval area of Saint-Valéry

The view here is majestic. You dominate the bay! You have a magnificent panoramic view of the movements of the marsh, the Crotoy opposite and Cape Hornu. It’s also the starting point for a stroll through the town’s medieval pedestrian zone, with its cobbled streets, pretty little houses and magnificent sailors’ chapel.

To get there, walk along Quai Jeanne D’Arc to the beach. Between the buvette de la plage and the beach huts of Saint-Valéry, at the foot of the vestige of the Harold Tower, you’ll find a steep staircase leading up into a grove. It takes you to the heights of Saint-Valéry.

From here, you can admire the Porte Jeanne D’Arc, where Joan of Arc passed through in the days leading up to her arrival in Rouen, under close English surveillance.

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8. Stroll around Le Crotoy harbour

The Tourelles hotel in Le Crotoy, Baie de Somme

First stop, the church of Saint Pierre. It features a 13th-century tower-façade, and inside, an ancient custom plan with its fortress, a 15th-century altarpiece and boat-shaped ex-votos. Stroll around the village and you’ll also be able to admire the Saint-Firmin church, the remains of the ancient ramparts of the 12th-century fortress, or the many 19th- and 20th-century villas, such as the Jules Verne villa, the Millevoye house, or the old Félix-Suzanne-Madeleine chalet with its bow-windows.

Listed in the general inventory of cultural heritage, the Villa Marguerite is not lacking in interest. Built in the early 20th century, it is a fine example of Flemish-style gabled crotello architecture. Made of brick on a metal structure, it is also decorated with Art Nouveau ceramics. Don’t miss a visit to Gustave Lecoq’s former villa, now a hotel-restaurant.

Located in the public garden, opposite the bandstand, the monument to the Caudron brothers dates from the 1950s. Its bas-relief shows the first flights of l’Oiseau bleu, the two men’s plane. The town is also home to a statue of Joan of Arc by Athanase Fosse, inaugurated at the end of the 19th century to commemorate the passage of the saintly Crotoy.

The fishing port with its fishmongers’ stalls, or the marina with its tourist boat, are also worth a stroll.

9. Enjoy the local markets

Enjoy the local markets of the Bay

The Baie de Somme is a land of producers and fishermen. Why not bring back a few local products to extend your trip? Visit one of the many markets that liven up the Picardy week.

Here are the main markets:

  • Le Crotoy market has become an institution. You’ll find fish and seafood, mussels, salicornia, cheese and many other local products. The market is held on Fridays all year round, and on Tuesdays during the summer.
  • In Saint Valery, the market takes place on Wednesdays.
  • The Ault market takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Le Tréport’s fish market is a vintage fish market that hasn’t changed much since it was built in the 70s. Many local fish are displayed and sold by the local fishermen themselves.

10. Enjoy a sporting activity

There are many outdoor activities to do in the Baie de Somme, including kite surfing.

The Baie de somme offers an ideal stretch of water for water sports. Kite surfers and windsurfers are not mistaken: every month, more and more of them come to enjoy it. But there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Here are 7 ideas for must-do activities during your stay in the Baie de Somme:

  • Pirogue or canoe trip
  • Cycling along the many cycle paths
  • Go boating or sailing
  • Try your hand at fishing on foot
  • Ride a Henson
  • Go sand yachting
  • Kite surfing
  • Sailing on a Stand up Paddle

11. Henson ride

Enjoy a Henson ride when visiting Somme Bay

A ride on a Henson is one of the best ways to discover the Baie de Somme. A must-do activity in the Baie de Somme, open to all.

Hensons are small, quiet and hardy horses. Born in the Baie de Somme, they have a golden coat and dark mane. Here, Hensons have become the symbol of nature riding. It’s the ideal way to enjoy the scenery of the bay and the Marquenterre, a 1,000-hectare bird sanctuary of pastures and dunes, forests and inland marshes.

12. Remembrance tourism

The blockhouse at Cayeux is a relic of the Second World War.

Located at the heart of the 2 great conflicts of the 20th century, the Baie de Somme has preserved the stigmata of these 2 periods. There are numerous military cemeteries of foreign soldiers (Chinese, Australians…) reminiscent of the First World War. As for the Second World War, like other parts of France, the Baie de Somme was part of the zone reinforced by the Germans against a supposed landing on the northern coast during the Second World War. This blockhouse on the beach at Le Hourdel, for example, stands up to the forces of nature. In Le Tréport, the Kahl-Burg structure symbolizes these dark times. These bunkers, dug into the chalk cliffs, can be visited today.

13. Playing in the dunes

Playing in the dunes with a magnificent sea views

Whether in Le Crotoy, or further north on the Royon trail between Fort-Mahon and Quend-plage, young and old alike will be delighted to “climb” the magnificent sand dunes. From the top, you’ll enjoy lovely views and arid landscapes. Younger visitors will be delighted to run, jump or roll in the sand down the slopes…

14. Stroll along the promenade at Mers-les-bains

1900s villas in Mers les Bains

Strolling along the promenade at Mers-Les-Bains is a very pleasant experience. On the one hand, you can admire the 1900s-style houses with their magnificent color palettes and whimsical names. On the other, there’s a magnificent view of the pebble beach, the sea and the cliffs. All along the promenade you’ll find something to quench your appetite, with ice-cream and crêpe vendors.

15. Discover Europe’s highest chalk cliffs

Le Tréport, Europe's highest chalk cliffs

Europe’s highest chalk cliffs rise to an altitude of 106 meters in Le Tréport. Overlooking the beach below, they offer breathtaking views of the English Channel and surrounding countryside. To reach the top of the cliffs, you can either climb 365 steps or take the free funicular railway, which was reopened in 2006. It takes you to the upper part of Le Tréport.

16. Marvel at the gardens of Valloire

the gardens of Valloire, close to Bay of Somme

Valloires is an abbey located in Argoules, a small commune north of Abbeville. The “Jardins de Valloires” have played a major role in making this place very popular on the Baie de Somme.

On the outside, Valloires Abbey boasts vast, charming gardens with lots of flowers. They are a favorite attraction for visitors. The gardens are divided into several zones, each with its own style and flowers. These include a large rose garden and formal gardens.

Where to sleep in the Baie de Somme?

The Baie de Somme, located in France’s Somme département, is a prime destination for travelers in search of relaxation and nature discovery. The bay is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, as well as a rich cultural heritage. To welcome visitors, the Baie de Somme offers a variety of tourist accommodations to suit all budgets and tastes. Whether you’re looking for a charming hotel, bed & breakfast, gîte, campsite or vacation rental, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for in this region.

Among the most popular places to stay are the towns of Saint-Valéry-sur-Somme and Le Crotoy, two jewels of the Baie de Somme offering breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding countryside. Whether you’re a couple, a family or a group of friends, the Baie de Somme and its tourist accommodations are sure to seduce you and offer you an unforgettable stay.

If you’re planning to come by motorhome, take a look at our article on the Baie de Somme by motorhome.

How to get to the Baie de Somme

To get to the Baie de Somme, here are the main means of transport to consider, depending on your point of departure:

  • By car: If you have a car, this is the most flexible option. Use a GPS or mapping application to plan your route. Major freeways into the region include the A16 from Calais, Paris or Lille, or the A28 if you’re coming from Rouen.
  • By train: You can take a train to the Baie de Somme from many major French cities. The nearest station to the Baie de Somme is Noyelles-sur-Mer, which is well served by trains from Paris (Gare du Nord), Lille and other major towns in the region.
  • By bus: Regional bus services can also take you to the Baie de Somme from various destinations in France. Check the timetables and routes of local bus companies to find the best option from your where you are.

Choose a gateway town: The Baie de Somme comprises several coastal towns, including Le Crotoy, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, and Le Hourdel. Choose the one that best suits your interests and itinerary.

Explore the Baie de Somme: Once you’re here, take advantage of the Baie de Somme’s many activities and must-sees, such as boat trips, discovering the flora and fauna, visiting gardens and historic sites.

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