Fan of nature, but also of old stones? Between Clairmarais and Saint-Omer, many walks and discoveries await you.

Are you coming to visit the Saint-Omer marshes by boat? Optimize your trip to stay a full day or a few days in the Audomarois!

Here is our little example of a program for a typical day between nature and heritage.

A short morning nature hike

Sometimes you have to get up early to appreciate the awakening nature. In the early morning, many small animals are out fishing, hunting and strutting.

Put on your walking shoes, grab your backpack, bring a good pair of binoculars and head to the best natural sites in the Pays de Saint-Omer.

To do in the morning:

  • Visit the Romelaere nature reserve and its ponds. It takes 1h30 to 2h on site.
  • Stroll along the paths of the Rihoult-Clairmarais forest
  • Walk around the ponds of Arques. The Malhôve pond, the Beauséjour pond and the rainbow pond allow beautiful bucolic walks in environments where biodiversity is preserved. There are, in addition to many species of birds, newts and salamanders.
Footpaths of the Romelaere national nature reserve – Photo: Philippe Hudelle

Meet at 10:30 a.m. for a boat trip in the marshes of Saint-Omer and Clairmarais.

On the road from Clairmarais to Saint-Omer, the Makers of Boats offer you a morning river cruise to discover the history and natural heritage of the Audomarois marshes. The guides, natives of the place, are not stingy with family anecdotes on market gardening life and trades in the marsh.

Following this visit in a restricted committee (a traditional bacôve has only 12 places), go to the workshop. You will discover the last Audomarois shipyard where the escutes, the bacôves and many other types of traditional boats are built.

At the Makers of Boats, it is also possible to rent a canoe or a boat (rowing or electric) to criss-cross the canals of the marsh. Of course, we leave you a map so you don't get lost! 😊

Boat building in the last shipyard of Saint-Omer – Photo: Philippe Hudelle

A special regional meal

The noon hour has struck. You can taste small regional dishes in the restaurants of Saint-Omer or Clairmarais. The territory does not lack good tables!

By reservation, the Makers of Boats restaurant, the “Piquinettes”, also opens its doors to you. On the program, market garden menu, Flemish carbonade or Maroilles chicken to be enjoyed at the water's edge.

Early afternoon: visit of the old town of Saint-Omer

Saint-Omer has a certain charm with its small typical suburbs and its medieval town centre. Do not hesitate to venture there and stroll along its alleys. These will lead you to various monuments:

  • The old town hall and the Moulin à Café theater on the Grand'Place,
  • The former Saint-Louis hospital from the beginning of the XNUMXth century housing the city's administrative services,
  • Opposite the new town hall, the St Sepulcher church (closed to the public),
  • The sumptuous Jesuit chapel, rue du Lycée,
  • The old rue St Bertin and its old XNUMXth century buildings,
  • The ruins of the Saint-Bertin abbey,
  • St Denis church (closed to the public),
  • The remains of the Vauban ramparts and the public garden of Saint-Omer,
  • The suburbs of Lyzel and Haut-Pont, the historic canal and the Immaculate Conception Church
  • ...
Ruins of St Bertin Abbey – Philippe Hudelle

Visit the Cathedral of Saint-Omer

Saint-Omer Cathedral is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 18 p.m. Built in 300 years from the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century, this cathedral bears witness to the past grandeur of Saint-Omer, seat of the bishopric.

Architecture lovers will appreciate the Romanesque chapel of the primitive church on which the cathedral is built, as well as all the currents of Gothic art displayed by the building. We will also dwell on the treasures of sacred art unfolding before us: the labyrinth, the chapels, the cenotaphs, the paintings, the astronomical clock, the organ case... It is not for nothing that the cathedral of Saint-Omer is one of the richest in France!

Cathedral of Saint-Omer – Philippe Hudelle

Visit the Sandelin Museum

At the top of rue Carnot in Saint-Omer stands a superb building housing the Sandelin museum. This museum will delight lovers of art and history. It traces the history of Audomarois and its industry through its archaeological collections as well as through its collections of paintings, clay pipes and earthenware. Several rooms laden with antique furniture reconstruct the living rooms of the Audomaroise bourgeoisie of the XNUMXth century.

Finally, the Sandelin Museum contains a precious treasure: the reliquary cross of the Abbey of Clairmarais. A goldsmith masterpiece dating from the 13rd century.

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