Hiking maps of the Saint-Omer area (3)Hiking cards are published by Tourisme En Pays de Saint-Omer
©Hiking maps of the Saint-Omer area|Tourisme en Pays de Saint-Omer

Our 10 most unusual walks

Walking in wonder

Walking or playing sports can be hard to get into. But what if we told you there was a way to exercise while admiring the countryside? Reconnecting with nature is very important these days, and the Pays de Saint-Omer features a number of marked paths and trails in some pretty magical landscapes: marais Audomarois, forests, heritage sites. To help you get an idea, here’s a selection of the most original hikes.

A touch of Hollywood

The Romans in Reclinghem

An unusual route in the sense that columns recalling the past and evoking the future are present on this country hike. Indeed, seeing a concrete Christian cross some twenty meters high on the hillside like a lost HOLLYWOOD letter always surprises.

This monument, famous in the region, is a sign of gratitude, that of a soldier who returned home in 1942 in good health.Earlier on the route, on the heights of the village, other columns also astonish: a series of thirteen 65-meter-high wind turbines with a further 12 visible on the other side of the valley.

La Belle du Pas-de-Calais

Le Bruveau in Aire-sur-la-Lys

Discover the Lys, the emblematic waterway of the town of Aire-sur-la-Lys, and its magnificent green valley. The Lys is canalised from the town of Aire-sur-la-Lys with the very pretty Porte de Beaulieu, one of the last vestiges of Vauban’s ramparts and its powder magazine.

Starting from Aire-sur-la-Lys, the hamlets of Moulin-le-Comte and Glomenghem are also well worth a visit, with the very pretty château de Moulin-le-Comte and its neo-classical style.

Admire the region's unique heathers

Le Longatte in Blendecques

Another hike mixing heritage and nature. Except that this one runs through a nature reserve all the same, and the heritage is rather industrial. The town of Blendecques owes its expansion to the River Aa since the Middle Ages and will give rise to a whole paper industry.

The route offers a distant view of the famous Cristallerie d’Arques, a leader in tableware created in 1825.One of the assets of this hike above all is therefore the Plateau des Landes Regional Nature Reserve: a refuge for rare and endangered species such as the 4-cornered heather, the spotted salamander or the European oriole, which you may spot with a little luck.

The remains of northern Pompeii

Les Morins in Thérouanne

A hike steeped in history that takes us from antiquity to the middle of the 16th century. The Morins were one of Belgium’s Gallic peoples with its administrative capital Terwanna, which would become Thérouanne, one of the most important religious centers before its destruction by Charles V in 1553.

The hike passes the Maison de l’archéologie and the archaeological excavation site, witnesses to this rich past.

Nature meets human genius

Fontinettes trail in Arques

Great industry is revealed through this hike that oscillates between nature and industry where you’ll discover the boat elevator, an impressive 1887 mechanism enabling barges to cross a 13-meter drop.

Next, prepare to enter one of our largest forests: the Rihoult-Clairmarais forest with its 1,200 hectares. Put your ears to the ground and open your eyes wide to catch a glimpse of rabbits, squirrels, foxes or even roe deer.

In the middle of a nature reserve

Blongios trail in Clairmarais

A hike through the Audomarois marshes is always a magical experience. All the more so as this trail allows observation of ornithological species in particular since it is situated in the Réserve Naturelle et Nationale des Étangs de Romelaëre, a reserve created in 2008 and a veritable haven of peace for all species of birds, mammals or even plants.

You may be lucky enough to spot the kingfisher, the bittern or even the very rare little bittern.

Orchids, butterflies and bats

Le Nordal in Acquin-Westbécourt

This itinerary takes you to the heart of the réserve naturelle nationale des grottes et pelouses d’Acquin-Westbécourt, endowed with a particular flora and fauna notably rich in orchids, junipers and butterflies as well as small caves constituting an ideal biotope for bats…

There are about ten species within this reserve! So follow in the footsteps of the shepherds who shaped this landscape and open your eyes wide.

THE Audomarois marsh hike

Le Lansbergue in Tilques

For many, this is THE hike of the marsh. It has to be said that as the Audomarois marsh is mostly private, hiking trails through it are always in demand. The Lansbergue is a bucolic hike alternating between pretty houses, agricultural stools, waterways and pastures.

Mysteries at the highest point

La Chapelle Saint-Louis in Tournehem-sur-la-Hem

This hike is in second place as it has a magical and mysterious side. The Saint-Louis de Guémy chapel is located on an ancient Druidic ritual site that once hosted assemblies. A chapel would be built in the 15th century by Antoine de Bourgogne known as the Great Bastard of Burgundy, lord of Tournehem-sur-la-Hem.

The most unusual aspect of this hike is also its panorama: Hanging 122 m high on Mont Saint-Louis, it offers an unrivalled view of the Hem valley, the Ardennes countryside, Cap Blanc-Nez and even, on a clear day, for good eyes, the cliffs of southern England. This impregnable, isolated position naturally makes it a land where beliefs from the mists of time and the grace of Gothic architecture come together.

The green slag heap

Les Côteaux de l'Aa in Wavrans-sur-l'Aa

The most beautiful of hikes is, like that of the Saint-Louis chapel, little-known. Yet it’s not lacking in charm and landscape diversity. Explore the Aa valley with a breathtaking view from the heights of the Réserve des Côteaux de l’Aa: this rather steep hill and the meandering river amid pastures offering its banks to fishermen. Small undergrowth and religious and fortified monuments complete a majestic route where you’ll go from surprise to surprise.


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