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Between Hallines and the coast is the Regional Nature Park Caps et Marais d’Opale, considered an area of outstanding beauty. It includes Cap Gris Nez and Cap Blanc Nez on the Channel, then farmland, forests and waterways inland. If you’d like to learn more about the Regional Parks in France, the authority has an English website. There is a website for Caps et Marais d’Opale but you’ll need good French to read it!

Cap Blanc Nez

What this all means is that there is plenty of good countryside! For example, if you like a good walk through a forest, we can recommend the following two…

Clairmarais Forest

Eight miles east of Hallines, just beyond Arques, there is a forest which can be entered from the village of Clairmarais.

Perfect for bike rides, walking and picnics, the forest is home to grey heron. Sadly the old oak trees are now less abundant than in previous years.

Cycling in Clairmarais Forest
Pony riding in Clairmarais Forest

It’s on the edge of the Audomarois Marshes (see also this guide), the only remaining cultivated wetlands in France. This is a mosaic of lakes and rivers which is best explored by canoe, rowing boat or on a guided tour in a flat-bottomed barge. There is a family-owned company, Au Bon Accueil, who cover all these options with rented boats and tours, starting from near Saint Omer.

Audomarois marshes boating
Audomarois marshes boating

Tournehem Forest

Beyond St Omer Golf Club, and less than 10 miles from the house is Quercamps and the Tournehem Forest.

This is a tranquil landscape, great for walking or cycling, with a charming small chapel at the heart of the forest. And it’s only 20 minutes from the house!

Cycling near Tournehem Forest
Tournehem Forest chapel
Tournehem Forest bluebells