Images -Copyright Mincoin.
Probably best known of the Seven Valleys, the Valley of the Canche springs to life near Magnicourt sur Canche. The Ternoise and Course flow into it along its 96 kilometre winding journey to its vast estuary in the Channel just north of Le Touquet at Etaples sur Mer and many delightful restaurants and auberges are to be found along the way, especially between Montreuil and Etaples. The river is populated with rainbow trout, sea trout, eel, pike and roach and although you can walk along both banks, the right hand side is more picturesque. The river follows the lie of the land flowing past chalk hillsides and its path is frequently indicated by the presence of willows. The farms, set low down, are often built of whitewashed cob. At Hesdin, where the river hides between the houses, crossed by seven bridges, the Office of Tourism has no less than 15 routes to propose for walkers to explore the delights of the seven valleys and their restaurants, in the Authie, the Bras de Brosne, the Canche, the Créquoise, the Planquette, the Ternoise and the Lys with the suggestion to try the ‘Assiette des 7 Vallees’ which naturally features the best of local produce!
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Hesdin also has a Municipal Museum in two segments, the first up to 1553 when the first city was destroyed, and the second, dealing with artifacts from 1554 onwards. It is in the same building as the Office of Tourism and open for the same hours. In 2004, Hesdin hosted an exhibition set around Rembrandt with pictures lent by the museums of Cambrai, Dunkerque and Tourcoing, but especially featuring Rembrandt’s ‘ the Portrait of Titus’, loaned by the Louvre. Outside the town, the Forest of Hesdin is a perfect place to wander and lose oneself in silence absorbing the wonders of nature. However if you are worried about getting lost, the Tourist Office can provide you with a map. It takes an hour to walk from one end to the other and one is likely to spot all sorts of wildlife from rabbits to deer and many different birds, not to mention wood anemones, wild hyacinths and other woodland flowers. 60% of the forest is Oak dating from many centuries ago.
At Buire le Sec nearby, there is a massive Labyrinthe which dates from medieval times exhibiting a new spectacle – ‘La Légende de l’Oiseau TONNERRE’.
The ‘Jardins d’Evea’ at Maresquel, Ecquemicourt are also well worth a visit with 2.5 hectares of secret gardens with over 6,000 plants. There is also mini golf, children’s games and animals as well as a small rapid service restaurant. You can buy your plants here as well in the garden centre. At Cheriennes there is another attractive garden, le Jardin des Lianes, where you can see over 250 old roses as well as magnolia, rhodedendrons, azaleas and wysteria amongst other beautiful plants. Also imperative to see is the 12th century hamlet of Aubin- Saint-Vaast and the small château at Ricquebourg.
At Beaurainville there is the ‘Office Territorial des Sports et des Jeunes des 7 Vallees ‘( tel: 03 21 06 77 77.) Here you can discover half day outings whether on bicycle rides, organised walks, or archery. There is a link with English history to be found in the Canche valley as well! Harold, pretender to the British throne, was taken hostage by Guillaume Ponthieu and imprisoned in the Château of Beaurainville in 1064. Sadly today only the feudal mound remains where once the château stood. Beaurainville also has four large and two small lakes where you can fish for trout without a permit and where there are barbecues and games for children and trout fishing is also available at Ecquimicourt at the Relais Détente – maresquel. At Bouin Plumoisin and at Beaurainville you can enjoy Canoe Kayaking and at Bouin Plumoisin you can also visit the Bee Museum or ‘Musée de l’Abeille d’Opale’. At Marconne there is an equestrian centre and at Saint Georges at the Circuit du Ravin, you can go quad biking with a 15 kms track in an estate of 50 hectares. You can even go on a quad bike tour of the Seven Valleys (two days under canvas) but this takes place generally in May and has to be booked in advance. Tel: 03 21 47 11 15. There is also an old fish farm at St Georges at the Etangs du Moulin de St Georges where you can fish either in the lakes or in a first category river. There is also a brasserie. Tel: 03 21 04 83 76. The choice of things to do, places to go and where to eat, whether in the Valley of the Canche or any of the other Seven Valleys is extensive. It is certainly a rural haven and it cannot fail to delight you as you explore its different corners and uncover its many charming villages.