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Somme (Department, France): Yacht clubs

Last modified: 2004-07-17 by
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Club Nautique de la Baie de Somme

[CN Baie de Somme]by Ivan Sache

Baie de Somme is the wide estuary of the river Somme, which waters the traditionel province of Picardie and flows into the North Sea. The bay is progressively silting up. Sandbanks colonized by vegetation tend to coalesce and constitute the mollières, on which the sheep de pré-salé graze. Pré salé means literally salted pasture, and refers to the specific taste of the meat of the sheep bred in the bays of Somme and of Mont-Saint-Michel (there, the mollières are called herbus).

The three ports of the bay are St Valery, capital city of the former feudal domain of Vimeu, Le Crotoy and Le Hourdel. Shells, shellfish and squids are the main products of the bay. Fishing on foot is very common at low tide: cockles, mullets, eels and flatfishes are picked up by hand or caught with a fishgig (raccroc).

Waterfowl hunting is the other main activity in the bay of Somme. Small boats (bottes) are customized and shelters (huttes) are built in the grassy banks. Domestic or artificial ducks are used as appellants. The bay of Somme is a traditional place of violent hunters' demonstrations against the European regulations on waterfowl France does not care a damn. Hunters claim to defend a traditional, cultural activity, but the problem is indeed economical: the huttes are overpriced and rented to hunters from Paris and elsewhere for hunting parties.

In the north-western part of the bay, the ornithological reserve of Marquenterre (mer qui entre en terre, the sea entering the land) is kept hunter-free, and is one of the main stops of the migrating birds in Europe. Among the 420 species known in Europe, 315 of them have been spotted in Marquenterre.

Le Crotoy (2,350 inhabitants) is located on the northern (right) bank of the estuary, straight north off Saint-Valery. In the past, there was there a fortress where Joan of Arc was jailed in 1430 before being transfered to Saint-Valery and Rouen.

Club Nautique de la Baie de Somme is based in Le Crotoy. The burgee of the CNBS is horizontally divided blue-white-blue with the red letters CNBS in the white stripe.

Source: CNBS website

Ivan Sache, 23 December 2003