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The Canche at Montreuil-sur-Mer.
Origin Pas-de-Calais
Mouth English Channel
Basin countries France
Length 96 km
Avg. discharge 15.1 m³/s
Basin area 1,274 km²

The river Canche (Dutch: De Kwinte) is one of the rivers that flow from the plateau of the southern Boulonnais and Picardy, into the English Channel. The Somme is the largest example. The basin of the Canche extends to 1,274 square kilometres and lies in the southern end of the département of Pas-de-Calais. Forming an alluvial valley from 1 to 2 kilometers wide, the Canche is a verdant landscape of calm waters, marshes, meadows and small woods. The gentle gradient, averaging 1.5%, gives the river a meandering course.

The river rises at Gouy-en-Ternois and passes Frévent, Hesdin, Montreuil-sur-Mer before leaving the chalk to flow to the coast between Étaples and Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. Its principal tributaries are the Ternoise, the Planquette, the Créquoise, the Bras de Bronne, the Course, the Dordogne (not the Dordogne) and the Huitrepin which all join on its right bank, i.e. to the north of the Canche. The lie of the land means there’s no notable tributary from the south until the Grande Tringue, which flows from marshland into the small, dredged estuary.


  • Gallery 1
  • History 2
  • Environmental issues 3
  • Flora and fauna 4
  • External links 5
    • See also 5.1
    • References 5.2



The valley of the Canche has been occupied by man since ancient times because of the productive nature of the land. The unhealthy aspect of marshland means much has been done over the centuries to drain the land efficiently, which has brought about the partial destruction of its original character. The principal activities of the village communities occupying the valley and its surrounds have been (and still are) farming, fishing and windmills by steam engines) led to further improvements in drainage, contributing to the drying-up of the valley downstream as far as Hesdin). It wasn’t until the last quarter of the 20th century that authorities became aware of the importance of the marshes and started trying to preserve them, having earlier contributed to their disappearance. The Canche and its valley have been incorporated into a national natural reserve since 1987. [2]).

Environmental issues

The Canche estuary was the first site in northern France where a conservation victory, in respect of the coast, was first achieved, in 1976. Plans had been made to put in place an earlier project, dating from the 1960s, to create an artificial environment on the estuary. The work included creating a harbour and a marina. This was supposed to be “compensation” for extracting the waters of the Canche at Hesdin in order to supply the city of Lille. Of course, this threatened to destroy the rich wildlife and flora of the estuary. The mobilisation of the local inhabitants, various associations and many scientists, after many public enquiries and heated arguments, stopped the plans and left the estuary to nature. .[3]

Flora and fauna

The estuary of the Canche

With sandbars and spits, the estuary of the Canche is typical of the estuaries of this region of France. The coastal dunes, marshes and valley are home to 485 different plants and a diverse range of wildlife. 75 varieties of resident and migratory birds nest in and around the estuary and valley, such as the nightjar, woodlark, several types of warblers, snipe, oyster catchers (using rabbit-holes as homes) and the predatory merlin and buzzard. This area shelters mammals such as deer, wild boar, foxes, badgers, stoats, squirrels, rabbits and the occasional seal, but, in contrast to the bay of the Somme, the estuary of the Canche does not seem to possess a seal colony. Numerous amphibians (Common toads, newts and frogs) are found in and along the river.[2]

External links

  • Site de l'Agence de l'eau Bassin Artois-Picardie (French)
  • Site personnel SAGE de la Canche (French)
  • Tourisme dans la vallée de la Canche (French)

See also


  1. ^ a b Helga Scarwell et Magalie Franchomme, Autour des zones humides : espaces productifs d'hier et conflits d'aujourd'hui, La revue en sciences de l'environnement: Vertigo, 1 mai 2005. Read online
  2. ^ a b The estuary of the Canche on the website of the conservation of the coast
  3. ^ The barrage project on the Fédération Nord-Nature website.

This article is derived from the French WorldHeritage.

  • Carte Géologique de la France à l'échelle du millionième 6th edn. BRGM (2003) ISBN 2-7159-2158-6
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