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X-mas 2007 along the rugged Atlantic Coast of Northern France

Last X-mas we had booked a small home in Northern France, together with some relatives, close to the Atlantic Coast.

For those not familiar with the territory; from Calais in the North to Le Havre in the South, nothing but tall (60-80 meters is no exception) cliffs of mainly Cretaceous origin (Turonian and Coniacien, though @ some places Jurassic outcrops can be accessed), interspersed with little hamlets providing access to the beaches.

The little village we were staying in was close to the sea-side towns of Ault, Bois-de-Cise (Nice “Turn-of-the-Century” / Jugendstil houses) and Le Tréport.

Based on some research we knew that Bois-de-Cise was prime hunting ground for echinoids, mainly Micrasters (Heart Urchins).

Tides were not very cooperating, but the second day after X-mas, we decided to try our luck.

We hit the beach at daybreak, somewhere around 8.30 AM at the time. That time also happened to be exactly low tide, so we had about 3 hours of collecting ahead of us. Believe me, you don’t want to be caught between rising sea and the cliff face with nowhere to go.

Being new to this collecting locality, we first decided to hit the large exposed forefront of the cliffs, before rising tides would claim them once more.  That proved a waist of time. Tell-tale signs of eroded echinoids, with only the outlines still showing were abundant, but nothing worth taking with us. I guess that once the surf has exposed a test, the same surf starts chewing it up as well.

Next we moved to a cave-in that was about a year old, hoping to find some block from the fossiliferous layers. As newbies we were eventually successful and managed to collect some nice Micrasters decipiens specimens, before the rising tides made us clear the beachhead and join up once again with the less fossil minded members of the company........satisfied once more but – like always - still hungry for more ….

Location North Atlantic Coast - Somme and Seine Maritime ar, France

Date Added5/21/2008

Daybreak, low-tide and junior is all set to find him some nice echinoids.
Access to the beach.
Looking North along the cliff face at low tide.
Looking North @ high tide
No fossil, but still a nice sight
A gully in the wide "forefront" to the cliffs, close the sea's edge @ low tide.
Same, but now standing in the gully and looking towards the cliffs
Junior in action...
The first Micraster I found, not an easy feat, to spot those white echs among the white rubble.
Same micraster after some preliminary prepping @ home. A beauty in the making.
Next cliff fall, to be sampled next year?
A view south, along the ciffs, taken from the cliffs just North of Ault. Somewhere halfway along the cliff face lies the "fin-du-siecle" village of Bois-de-Cise, with acces to the beach where we hunted.

Du pain, du vin et des oursins..... (Bread, wine and sea urchins....)
Du pain, du vin et des oursins..... (Bread, wine and sea urchins....)

French echinoids rule! - 5/21/2008
Reviewer : Martijn from Norway
Total Rating : 9.667
Great trip Paul. Maybe one to plan together in the future? Content Quality : 10 of 10

Drool Quotient : 9 of 10

Picture Quality : 10 of 10
VOTE! Agree  Disagree  2 of 3 voters agreed.





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