No.4 - Birds Of The Bay
We make our journey from Calais to Amiens to enjoy a scenic two days of cruising to watch for birdlife on the Somme, combined with visits to the Marquenterre Reserve and the fascinating Maison de L'Oiseau near St Valery-sur-Somme. For this trip we will be accompanied by accomplished nature guide Jason Mitchell, who will also be joining us to guide a couple of nature-themed cruise-tours to Burgundy later in the summer. Jason will be accompanied by his wife Emilie, who was at one time a guide at the Marquenterre Reserve!
This short break will allow us to witness something of the fascinating wildlife of the Somme only viewable from the river itself, and of course with Spring migration beckoning there should be plenty to see in our visit to the Marquenterre reserve before we head for home.
PLEASE NOTE: Price is per person and based on two people sharing a twin/double room. Single room supplements and upgrades are not included.
For our first day we will depart Folkestone by coach between 8 and 9am to arrive in Calais mid-morning local time, and from here we will proceed directly to Amiens to check-in to our hotel. We will then make for the waterfront in Amiens where we will find our cruise-boat the Natalia waiting for us. For the afternoon we will then cruise on the canalised river downstream as far as Picquigny. Our cruise-route is quiet and secluded. Much of the Somme valley was excavated for peat in the 18th and 19th centuries, so we will find ourselves weaving through an expanse of shallow lakes and wooded islands making a perfect habitat for waterfowl, waders and woodland birds. Lunch on board is included.Rejoining the coach in Picquigny, we make the short hop back into Amiens, with a 3-course a la carte dinner to follow in the excellent Brasserie Jules just next door to the hotel.Rejoining the coach in Picquigny, we make the short hop back into Amiens, with a 3-course dinner to follow in the excellent Brasserie Jules just next door to the hotel.
Next morning the coach takes us back towards the Bay of the Somme, where we visit La Maison de la Baie de Somme et L'Oiseau - House of the Bay of the Somme and the birds. This is a taxidermy museum but is not in any way the sort of musty, shadowy place that might be supposed of such a forgotten art. The exhibits here are all beautifully presented in well-lit showcases that illustrate both the habitat and the birds associated with it, and it all makes for both an attractive and informative setting. Information is presented in both French and English and there are staff on hand to answer any questions that Jason and Emilie can't help with!By lunchtime we will have returned to Picquigny where we re-embark to continue cruising downstream to the village of Long, at which point we will have cruised 34km on the two days and passed through 6 locks - three of them double-chambers. We then enjoy another evening in Amiens, again with dinner at the Brasserie Jules, with opportunity to make the short stroll to see the wonderful Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame just a few minutes' walk from the hotel.By lunchtime we will have returned to Picquigny where we re-embark to continue cruising downstream to the village of Long, at which point we will have cruised 34km on the two days and passed through 6 locks - three of them double-chambers. We then enjoy another evening in Amiens, again with dinner at the Brasserie Jules, with opportunity to make the short stroll to see the wonderful Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
We might be heading for home on Wednesday, but with an early start from the hotel and a stop to arm ourselves with something for a mobile lunch, we seize the opportunity to spend a few hours in the celebrated Marquenterre wildlife reserve on the Bay of the Somme, one of the world's most celebrated sites for witnessing seasonal migration and the residents of this vast and secluded estuary habitat. After spending the morning at the reserve and subject to weather on the day, we will continue our journey back to Kent aiming for a crossing around 7pm.
Executive Coach Travel
Assistance with booking taxi connections and/or hotel stay pre-departure
Eurotunnel or ferry crossings
Two half-day cruises in our own day-cruiser the Natalia
Two nights hotel stay at the 3* Holiday Inn Express in Amiens, with breakfast
Two 3-course evening meals at the Brasserie Jules in Amiens, with wine
Two lunches on board the boat
Tea, coffee, soft drinks, wines and beers throughout cruising
Visit to the Marquenterre reserve
Visit to the House of Birds
Jason Mitchell was born and raised in Devon where from an early age he developed a passion for birds and other wildlife, especially dragonflies and butterflies. From his earliest volunteering experience on the Exe Estuary he wanted to work in conservation and after returning to education in his mid-twenties, Jason graduated from Plymouth University and started work for the RSPB as a warden on the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths. Since then Simon has worked on various conservation projects for local government and the Wildlife Trust, and in 2010 he returned to the RSPB as Warden for the North Kent Marshes.
A career change followed in 2013, when Jason moved to La Brenne in France with his wife Emilie and young family in pursuit of a new challenge. La Brenne was an obvious choice for Jason; his wife is French and having visited the Loire Valley many times he fell in love with the 'Land of a Thousand Lakes'. Now well established as a nature guide both in France and more widely across Europe, Jason also works as a tree surgeon in the winter months.
The 3* Holiday Inn Express is centrally-situated in Amiens close to the main railway station, the pedestrianised shopping boulevard, the UNESCO-listed Cathedral Nôtre-Dame, and the St Leu waterfront and Hortillonnages island gardens. The hotel was fully refurbished during winter 2014/15 and offers free wifi and a complimentary espresso facility, with 61 Channel TV in-room including BBC and CNN. There are lifts serving all floors.
On Board Facilities:
Our boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a coachload of passengers in lounge-standard seating and there is additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air. There are 3 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath. The boats has two WC/washrooms and a galley serving beers and wines. Tea, coffee and drinking water are always available at no charge. There is no smoking on board.
Our boat is hybrid-engined and normally charges overnight from shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising. The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.
We also operate to a strict waste-avoidance policy. We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code. All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware. Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.
Departure from Kent:
Anyone from further afield please feel welcome to join us on this or any other Buzzlines tour. We are happy to arrange parking for you here in Kent, or we can pick you up from Ashford International Station - only 37 minutes by HS1 from London St Pancras - and help you to find overnight hotel or B&B stops.