Last weekend was beautifully sunny so we headed out to a local nature reserve at the Platier d'Oye, half an hour away near Calais. I'll be telling you about the inland area in a separate blogpost but at one point, we headed down to the the beach, called Oye Plage. (That's pronounced wah, not oi, by the way !)
The low grassy dunes stretched lazily towards the beach without the big sand hills we're more used to in Dunkirk.
We kept seeing these cobwebby-looking things on the bushes and scrubland and I told the kids that they were spiders' nests. On closer inspection, however, they were swarming with newly hatched caterpillars wriggling their way out.You can see some on ther lower edge of the silky web.
Heading on to the beach, we wandered along the high tide mark, looking at shells and seeing what else had been washed up.
We had a good laugh at this rather grim find - a wing sticking out of the sand - because the kids decided that a bird had accidentally lost control, divebombed the sand and got buried head first. Nice !
We found several mermaid's purses, which I always used to think were seaweed until a nature guide explained that they were shark or ray egg cases. I know you're supposed to log your finds online on British shores but I don't think they do in France.
We also found lots of washed up dead crabs.
And even a few fish.
Sometimes the flotsam and jetsam seemed to have created natural sea sculptures.
Walking further along, there were lines of poles, presumably to stop long shore drift or possibly to prevent people from riding quads or motorbikes across the sand.
I had fun taking pictures of the shadows.
While Pierre appeared to be conducting the waves !
He had even more fun with his stick when he found an old deflated foil balloon washed up on the beach. Why do we waste money on toys ?!
Juliette made the most of the only bit of shade for miles around !
And the posts made a great tunnel !
We discovered that Dunkirk isn't the only town to have world war II bunkers on the beach. They are part of the Atlantic Wall, built by the Nazis, which stretched all the way along the northern coast of France, across Europe and into Scandinavia.
These ones had graffiti on them too, but nowhere near as sinister as the artwork on the Dunkirk bunkers. My favourite is still the one covered in shards of mirror.
These monstrous reminders of the past still look totally incongruous on a beautiful sandy beach though, particularly on a bright sunny day with clear blue skies.