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THE CLIFFS OF BLACK ROCKS
From Trouville-sur-mer to Villerville, 4 km of clay cliffs border the coast, alternating gentle slopes and vertical walls, peaking at 60 meters above sea level. Called "the Black Rocks", these geological formations owe their name to the large dark blocks scattered on the beach which come from the limestone layers of the cliff and which have been covered by algae. This 135 hectare area is partly classified as a "Sensitive Natural Area" by the Calvados department. It is also a paleontological site where one can find fossils dating from millions of years ago. 

Subject to numerous landslides and landslides, the area of ​​the Roches Noires cliffs, from Trouville-sur-Mer to Villerville, forms a constantly changing landscape. The cliffs by the sea are in perpetual motion. This instability is due to attacks from the sea and to “solifluxion” phenomena which correspond to the sliding of the clayey layers of the subsoil after rainy episodes. As a result of these land movements, pioneer vegetation is often found on the scree of the cliffs.

A multitude of natural environments follow one another from the sea to the top of the cliffs: beach, reefs, more or less steep cliffs, scree, thickets, dry lawns and wooded areas. 394 plants have been identified on this site, or nearly a third of the flora of the Calvados department. There are also rare species such as the Fuchs Orchis, an orchid on dry lawns or the Cabbage, a nationally protected species, settling at the top of the beach. Rocky plateaus also shelter numerous species of birds (Oystercatcher, Curlew, Sandpiper, Gravelot, etc.) making this site a privileged stopover for migration and wintering.

InDeauville nature tours and walks

The agenda here

Since 2007, the Department of Calvados has been managing the site for its preservation and the restoration of its natural heritage. A “natural” public park, the Graves park, a descent to the sea and a network of trails have been developed.

On the beach side, the site is discovered by taking the seaside at low tide (caution is necessary not to be blocked at the foot of the cliff by the rising tide).

Nature outings to discover the fauna, fossils and the history of these cliffs are regularly organized by Pays d'Auge Nature and Conservation: see the agenda.

An exceptional geological interest

The Black Rocks constitute an excellent natural section of the geological formations of the Upper Jurassic period (160 million years ago) of the Pays d'Auge. Following the bottom of the cliffs we can observe the successive formations: the oldest whitish and grayish limestones, visible in Trouville-sur-Mer, succeed more recent marls in Villerville. These formations show a wide variety of traces of biological activity. 

 

And a paleontological excavation site

You can also find fossils dating back millions of years while wandering at the foot of the cliffs. At the time of the Jurassic, 160 million years ago Normandy was covered by a tropical sea and today we can find fossils of dinosaurs, shark teeth, marine crocodilians and many marine species. Excavations are regularly made by enthusiasts along the beach. 

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