A detour to the Baie de Somme

Today is the day I’ve been waiting for- we’re off to see the seals! It’s been a campaign of mine for the last two visits, since Jean-Marie went off to ‘kayak with the seals’ in Northern France last year- I was strongly discouraged from accompanying him on the coastline in mid-winter, heavily pregnant and besides, it was a trip organised by his kayak club and his role was teaching/supervising youngsters so I was apparently not allowed. Francoise mentioned the plan the day we arrived and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it since.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow, those of you who have seen our honeymoon pics, heard details of our American road trip or otherwise will be familiar with my love of seeing animals in the wild, seals are no exception. We saw elephant seals in California during battle season and it was quite something to behold. Our other attempt, in the Lake District last year, sadly failed miserably as we hadn’t realised that the seals could only be seen at specific times of day in relation to tidal patterns, after taking a 90 minute detour on our route home to see them! But, this was a plan set to succeed (Marie did have a small worry on the way there- ‘but what if there’s no seals?’ she asked worriedly, mid journey).

We drive a hundred and twenty kilometres North to Saint-Valery-sur-Somme to indulge this dream. Lo and behold the seals are plentiful, the setting beautifully vast and wild and the best bit is seeing an entire colony gallop along the coastline into the water. We imagine they’re yelling at each other:
‘It’s time, it’s time, lets go!’
‘I’m going to get ALL the fish!’
‘Oh no you’re not, I AM!’

Eliza is less a fan of the beach and far more concerned with where her next meal is coming from. After a mad scramble to figure out why she’s screaming her head off, Francoise who’s carrying Zaza in the sling is mid sentence going: “Maybe she’s hungr-” when I suddenly appear with my boob out and thrust is in Zaza’s face, much to the hilarity of everyone but the baby who’s making indignant gurgly noises. That doesn’t really work, but once she’s out of the sling she contentedly feeds in my arms while I walk the length of the sand dune.

Marie meanwhile, although enjoying the seals, is particularly concerned with Eliza’s possible bowel movements, repeatedly hurrying us on and urging her parents to move on from yet another photo of the horizon/ sand/ water ‘She’s going to do another poonami! No one believes me!’ (she didn’t do another poonami, we were all pleased to discover).

Content from the seal viewing, we head to a café for a drink and a small walk through the town, where we find ‘pré-salé’ lamb terrine – there’s two places in France, our current location and Mont St Michel, where lambs graze on grasslands regularly submerged by the sea, apparently giving the lamb meat a beautiful salty flavour- we can confirm this is true, it is amazingly delicious!

Our day is concluded by a drive home full of attempts to find an open boulangerie for baguettes for dinner (no less than three villages are detoured through for this mission) and a delicious meal of the aforementioned terrine, vegetable soup made entirely from garden produce, delicious San Daniele ham from the Italian deli in Rouen and the most ‘well-cooked’ baguette I’ve ever seen. Moral of this story- don’t let Jean-Marie buy the baguettes (even if they do come with a free ‘goûter’ of apricot filled croissant).


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