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THE CLIFFS OF BLACK COWS
Located by the sea, the cliffs of the Black Cows, over 100 meters high, extend over 4,5 km between the towns of Villers-sur-Mer and Houlgate. These cliffs are distinguished by their geological and paleontological richness of major interest and by their natural beauty, between succession of ravines and spurs. The black Cow cliffs are part of the intervention sites of the Conservatoire du littoral and have been the subject of conservation measures since 2002.

© Patrice Le Bris
© Julien Boisard

The Black Cow cliffs come from the accumulation of Jurassic marine sediment deposits (about 160 million years ago). In these alternations of marl and limestone, preserved in the geological layers and the reliefs resulting from the different erosion processes, many fossils have been discovered: pliosaurs 10 meters long, ichthyosaurs, marine crocodiles, but also ammonites, sea urchins, sponges… The deposit has even delivered dinosaur remains!

On the environment side, there are three main types of habitat on the cliffs: the marly cliff, an environment in perpetual evolution with the development of pioneer species developing on the scree of mud; at the top of the slope, the afforestation of the plateau made of ash, maple and oak, and refuge space for the animal population; and the meadows of the plateau.

Guided tours to discover these exceptional cliffs are organized regularly.

© Pierre Queron
© Isaac Haïk Dunn
© Julien Boisard

InDeauville nature tours and walks

The agenda here

The name "Black Cows" would come from words of sailors: the presence of large blocks of chalk collapsed at their feet on the beach and covered with algae, which would evoke, seen from the sea, a herd of cattle grazing quietly.

The flora
The Vaches Noires site has a high diversity of orchids, seven species have been inventoried including the Orchis de Fuchs.
On the cliff side, there is a remarkable species: the Lotier pea.
On the lawn, several species of interest are observed: the Astragalus with licorice leaves, the Woolly Cirse and a species protected at regional level: the Whitish Ragwort.

 

 

Wildlife
For amphibian species, typical of hedgerow and forest areas, the cliff ponds are an interesting area, especially for the Spotted Salamander, the Palmate Newt and the Alpine Newt.
Among the mammals, we find three protected species: The muscardin, the squirrel and the hedgehog. These animals hibernate in nests made on the ground in slightly covered environments.
Since 2003, monitoring of bat populations has been carried out on the site. Five species have been identified: the great and the lesser horseshoe bat, the great murine, the mustache vespertilion and the red-eared pup.

The Black Cow Cliffs All practical information here

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