Le Bec d’Andaine is strange, as beaches go. It’s at the base of the Cotentin peninsula, on the west coast of the Normandy department of the Manche. It has a fine view of Mont St Michel. And the beach is wide and spacious. Very wide. Maybe too wide.
In fact, in the many times we’ve visited the Bec d’Andaine we’ve rarely had a proper glimpse of the sea.
This is La Baie du Mont St Michel and it has some of the most insane tides in the world.
When the tide is out – as it seems to be much of the time – you can walk right across the vast expanse of the bay. You shouldn’t do this alone because the quicksand, mud and marshes can be deadly. Luckily, there are guides available who steer groups of walkers across the dunes and mud flats.
It can feel a little post-apocalyptic at times.
The water you see in most of these pictures is actually just ankle-deep. But the wetness of the sand does create a beautiful light.
For us, the bay is a favourite place to run the dogs (or dog, now). You can throw a ball and it ends up rolling for what seems like miles.
The only downside is that the beach is like a layer cake, alternating sand and an especially sticky kind of clay. This makes a unique form of mud, the adhesive qualities of which beggar belief. Scientists really should be studying this stuff.
That’s Cézanne on the right. It took three baths to get him presentably clean again. He didn’t notice. Fortunately, there’s a set of taps in the car park so we could get the worst of the mud off before Cézanne jumped into the car.
This clay does, however, make for a firm surface and there’s one group of people who make full use of this – horse riders.
You’ll often seem them in groups. I think there’s a nearby pony club. And then sometimes along come more professional-looking riders.
The picture above was shot on a particularly bright day. I’d watched these riders appear from some distance away. The photograph was taken at the 70mm end of my 24-70mm zoom on the Nikon D800. I’d thought about quickly switching to the 180mm lens (one of my favourites) but I decided the short telephoto would work better because I could make use of the reflections on the water. And I wanted to keep Mont St Michel in the frame.
This is another shot that feels post-apocalyptic to me, maybe because it makes me think of the end of Planet of the Apes! In any case, I like the way the lead horse appears to be rearing slightly at the appearance of the distant spire.