From the mid 1970’s until 2014 the dunes between Biville and the sea were occupied by the French army. Here 300 hectares of unique sandy landscape shook to the sound of explosions and gunfire, as soldiers from all over the region came to do manoeuvres and target practise. Now all that you will hear is the sea, and the rustle of marram grass doing it’s best to hold the dunes together.
This strange landscape is around 10,000 years old. Once the army left it was placed in the care of the Conservatoire du Littoral. Wildlife flourishes. You can expect to see sand martins, Kentish plovers, the blue adonis butterfly. Wild Thistle, pretty Eye of France Dianthus gallicus and Rosa Pimpinellifolia flower close to the sandy surface.
But the army left a few things behind. They cleared the explosives and swept up ammunition, then decided it was too expensive to clear the old tanks and a truck, used for firing practise.
So if you drive as far into the dunes as the man-made track allows and walk south, keeping the sea to your right, you will come across these old monuments to war, and peace.
A list of the flora and fauna in the dunes here.