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Bassin de la Vire
Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin Regional Natural Park, Saint-Fromond, Manche, Normandy

Thanks to the rain, Normandy’s 28,000 ha of marshland from the Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin Regional Natural Park are covered in water. The marshes are then said to be “white,” and become a paradise for both birds and photographers. A unique landscape offering a complete change of scenery.
© Francis Cormon / hemis.fr

Bassin de la Vire Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin Regional Natural Park, Saint-Fromond, Manche, Normandy 31
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Spread across the Calvados and Manche departments, the Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin Regional National Park comprises a territory covering 146,000 hectares, including a vast 30,000-hectare wetland, the largest in Normandy. These marshlands are formed by the valleys of four rivers: the Aure, the Vire, the Taute, and the Douve, which all flow into the Bay of Veys. In France’s vastest grassy wetland, river levels rise with the first autumn rains, and water progressively covers valley floors, pushing cows and horses to “highlands,” and replacing them with fish and birds. This spectacular phenomenon culminates in the winter. It is said that the “marshlands are white” at this time, an expression which has been used since the 18th century. While these beautiful landscapes will enchant hikers and photographers, it is also an ideal period to observe migrating birds such as ducks, northern shovellers, white storks, grey herons, or northern lapwings, who take advantage of the peacefulness to stopover or spend the winter here.