The one place to visit in France this weekend: Saint-Valery-sur-Somme

For this week's one place to visit in France this weekend, Emilie King explains why the fortified town of Saint-Valery-sur-Somme on a coastal inlet in northern France, is a joy to visit. Email us to share your own recommendations with readers.

The one place to visit in France this weekend: Saint-Valery-sur-Somme
Photo: isamiga76/flickr
Where is it?
This beautiful fortified town nestled in a coastal inlet halfway between the bustling ports of Dieppe and Boulogne-Sur-Mer has so much to offer, it's a bit of a mystery that it is not better known.
But that's just as well, as visitors can make the most of its historical attractions, delicious restaurants and natural beauty away from the crowds and inflated prices of more touristy places.

How to get there
The town is just over two hours from Paris by car and driving there is probably the easiest way wherever you're coming from, as there isn't a direct train from Paris.
If you don't have a car, you can take a train to Noyelles-sur-Mer train station nearby and then take a bus or a taxi.
Why go?
The town itself is beautiful as is its stunning location overlooking the Somme bay.
Let's start with the town's rather remarkable historical assets.
This is the place William the Conqueror set off from to conquer England in 1066. Joan of Arc also spent some time here, and the town passed into English hands for a while again during the 100-years war in the 15th century. You'll also have heard of the First World War Somme battlefields, which you can also visit when you're in the area.
Flickr: Charles D P Miller 
Today, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme's historical legacy and beautiful landscape makes the town a very attractive place to be.
The oldest part of Saint-Valery-Sur-Somme is found in the stunning fortified town, built on a spur with the breathtaking views over the vast Somme bay. Stroll up through the gate and around the old town, wander inside the historical buildings and walk along the ramparts. Enjoy watching the sea as the tide goes in or out, revealing the vast expanse of white sand on the bay.
Don't forget your binoculars to spot the huge number of different birds the area is renowned for hosting.
The lower part of the town is built on one side of the canal leading into the sea, and you can stroll along the promenade beside it with flanked with large elegant houses.
Philippe Huguen, AFP
You can rent bikes to cycle along it, and if you push a little further out in the direction of the sea, you'll come across a nice café at the edge of town, overlooking the bay. It's a wonderful place to have coffee or seafood in the sun. 
I love this town so much, that I have returned quite a few times with my family. We've even started a tradition: we always order 'choucroute de la mer' for dinner.
This take on a hearty Alsatian dish made with pickled cabbage (and usually served with smoked sausage), is made many different types of local fish and seafood instead. It's delicious.
If you prefer something else, there is a huge choice of places to eat, and markets to buy food for a picnic.
When to go
Spring or summer are best to make the most of the outdoors and sunsets over the bay.
When you're walking along the promenade, pop into the elegant early 20th century hotel Le Relais Guillaume de Normandy for lunch (or dinner). It has great views over the water and its cosy and slightly old-fashioned interior will make you feel you've stepped back in time.
If you think there is a place we should include in our “One place to visit in France this weekend” series email [email protected] following the same Q&A format as above.
Philippe Huguen, AFP

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