The marais audomarois is a fascinating world with a stunning landscape that exudes a singular atmosphere. Frédéric Legris, originally from Saint-Omer, lives in the marsh, in the Yzel district.
The son of a market gardener, he criss-crosses the Audomarois marsh, which extends over 3700 hectares of land and water. Precise, he explains the difference between the boats typical of market gardeners: the bacôve is, in a way, the market gardener’s truck, while the escut is his car. From 400 in 1900, the number of market gardeners has fallen to around 40.
“I know a few market gardeners who can, during the walk, open their doors to us and show us their growing methods. Here, endive is still grown in the open ground, which is becoming rare! I go off the beaten track to help people discover the flora and fauna of the marsh. I tell the children the story of Marie Grouette, the marsh witch who catches those who get too close to the water with her groët!”
Did you know that some houses are only accessible by boat, and that the letter carrier uses this means of locomotion to make his rounds? “The marsh is another world, changing all the time whatever the season or time of day. It’s also a migration route. Birds come to land in the Romelaëre reserve, which in 2008 was classified as a national nature reserve.
“In the marsh, you can go boating, have lunch in little estaminets, sleep in gîtes… I know the local festivals, like the nautical procession that takes place at the end of July. And where to buy good vegetables!”