Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is located at the heart of the Picardy coastline nestling gently at the mouth of the Somme. The town is charming, authentic and has a rich history.
Saint-Valery-Sur-Somme – a rich history
William the Conqueror stopped off here to collect soldiers en route to conquer England and Joan of Arc was held here on her way to Rouen, a little over an hour away by car. The prison where she is said to have spent a night is still there, on the edge of the walled medieval part of the town. Victor Hugo, Jules Verne and Degas loved to holiday here enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery.
Perfect French weekend destination
These days Saint-Valery-sur-Somme is a perfect weekend destination. The town is very picturesque with a pretty harbour in which boats of all shapes and sizes bob about. There’s a colourful sailors district with houses painted in bright colours just as they have been for centuries. It’s a legacy of fishermen painting their homes with left over boat paint.
A stunning medieval upper town (parts of which date back to the 12th century) offers breath-taking views from the ramparts over the bay. You’ll find a lively area of shops, restaurants and cafés, surrounded by narrow wiggly streets that are planted with flowers and herbs and are a joy to wander along.
The Somme Estuary
The esplanade that runs beside the Somme estuary is perfect for a promenade. Look out for seals basking in the sunshine or bobbing up and down in the water. The largest colony in France live here and if you want to see more of them, call in at the tourist office to organise a guided tour or take a boat trip. On Sunday mornings, a lovely market is held on Place des Pilotes.
Steam Trains in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme
Visitors can enjoy a steam train ride around the bay calling in at seaside resorts and Le Crotoy, another lovely town across the bay from Saint-Valery. En route you’re bound to see plenty of wild life. I spotted wild pigs, deer, rabbits, herons, storks, swans and lots more. You’ll also see the famous Saint-Valery sheep, reared on the salt marshes, they are much prized by top chefs.
Street musicians roam on a sunny day, singing sea chanties and popular songs. Freshly caught grey shrimps are a must here, sweet and lip-smackingly good!
Locals love: Bistrot des Pilotes serves fresh fish with lovely views over the water (37 Qaui Blavet)
Don’t miss: La Table des Corderies, delicious regional produce and a menu that gives provenance to the dishes. the fish menu changes daily according to what the fishermen (Jean Joseph, Vincent, Bruno, Fabrice, Julie, Jordan, Loic et Patrick) catch on the day (214 rue des Moulins)
Tourist Office www.tourisme-baiedesomme.fr