The Valley of the Course runs from just south of Desvres, the home of the distinctive local pottery, to Attin where it joins the Canche just outside Montreuil sur Mer. This lovely lush valley is a delight to drive through, with its unspoilt pretty villages and the water winding its sparkling way from commune to commune. Bordered with poppy fields and lush vegetation, this is a paradise referred to in the French poem as the ‘lady without age with multiple faces’.
Whether you want to picnic by the river or dangle a fly for the trout which are so plentiful (you can get a permit for this from the local cafés) tranquillity is the overriding feature of this glorious spot. Starting off at Courset, with its little church dating from 1866 and the Chateau de George-Louis Marie du Môpt, it wends its way to Doudeauville with its Manoir dating from 1617 and the church of Saint Bertfulphe of the same era, whose bell was baptised by the brother of the mistress of Henri IV. Doudeauville’s chateau dates from the 18th century and the village was the first ‘baronnie’ of the Boulonnais ( there are 12). The Mill is also from the 18th century and the Abbey, destroyed and restored in 1543, dates from around 1099.
The château at Parenty, dates from 1785 and was owned by the Barons of Blaisel. The brick Manoir dates from the 16th century and the church of Saint Wulmere, from 1614. At Enquin sur Baillons, the Baillons rejoins the Course. There are listed trees and watercress beds and a 16th Century church by the small château. At Recques sur Course, one of the prettiest and most flower bedecked villages in the valley, the charming watermill just down the road from the 15th Century church dedicated to Saint-Josse, dates from 1752 and a pretty bridge spans the river just by the millrace. There is also a very fine château. If you are looking for somewhere to stay to explore this enchanting valley, look no further than Inxhent which boasts a pretty small Auberge – or go to nearby Montreuil for a larger choice.
One of the most famous attractions of the Valley of the Course and one much beloved by English visitors, is the ‘Chocolaterie’ or Chocolate Factory in Beussent www.choco-france.com. Whilst from the exterior it gives the impression of being on the scale of a ‘cottage industry’, this prolific venture receives countless visitors from the U.K. and also has a series of shops from Boulogne to Wimereux, Le Touquet and Berck and as far afield as Compiegne, Senlis and Dunkerque. Buying their cocoa beans directly from South America or from Africa, the owners are one of the last ‘artisanal’ producers to manufacture their chocolates using these materials and in the traditional way. Bruno de Rick created the chocolate factory in 1985. In 1994, he expanded his operation to Lachelle, a small village near Compiegne, where they have their second ‘chocolaterie’ in an old farm, in order to be in a better position to serve Paris. The business is now run by him and his brother, Alain, who lived in the United States for many years and speaks perfect English.
Copyright text : Sarah Francis.