Starting at the gymnasium’s car park, cross the Avenue Verte, the old railway track open to non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians. Follow the path along the pond and skirt around the housing estate until you reach the footbridge over the Varenne. Fed by a large number of springs and two tributaries, the Varenne River is 42 kilometres in length along its main channel, or 110 kilometres including its branches, tributaries and springs.
You can see the old Baudelot factory which once ran on the driving force of the river. It belonged to a textile mill built in the 10th or 11th century, which later went on to become a woodworking shop. After the footbridge, continue down Impasse Baudelot. Turn left at the first intersection and climb the stairs.
The Château d’Arques stands atop a dry, stony hill overlooking two valleys and encircled by an immense ditch dug through human effort. It was originally surrounded by a protective fence. The château is thought to have been built between 1040 and 1045, by Guillaume d’Arques. A few years after its construction, William the Conqueror, the nephew of Guillaume d’Arques, laid siege to his uncle’s château. Famine eventually led to surrender after painful year of siege. In 1123, the youngest son of William the Conqueror, now King Henry I of England, reinforced the château with a square keep and a wall.
Cross Rue de la Libération and keep going straight at the top of the stairs. Turn left towards the cemetery. Continue along Rue Bel-Air and then Rue de Creny. Turn right and the first fork in the road until you reach the starting point of the Bel Air Hiking Trail. Follow that trail until you reach Rue Adrien Etiemble. Turn left on the path just before the intersection of paved roads and then right at the Martigny transit station. Continue on to the crossroads with the Route de Beaumaine.
Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church has a nave with side aisles, extending into an elevated, vaulted stone choir made, slightly out of alignment with the nave, and with its own side chapels. It was built during the period of transition between the Romanesque and Gothic styles, which is why you can see a flying buttress on the southern corner of the façade.
The nave and the choir, two very different spaces, are separated by a rood screen made of white stone with three doors of equal size framed by Corinthian columns holding up the entablature and a solid railing forming the attic. The railing bar features a simple projection by the nave, forming the choir loft.
Turn right towards Beaumaine and keep going until you reach the hamlet of the same name. Continue along Rue Jean Manneville towards the D915 road and take the first path to the left of the intersection, Chemin du Mont Blanc. Join up with the D154 via the Fond de la Varenne. In the spring, you can spot lots of butterflies along the path through the woods in Martigny. The nearby village of Martigny enjoys an outstanding geographic location in the Varenne Valley. In the heart of the village, you can admire the 13th century Saint-Martin Church and Sainte-Claire Priory, home to a community of Benedictine monks.
At the intersection with the D154, continue along the Chemin du Pont de Pierre. Turn left after the stream and then continue to the right along the large municipal pond until you cross the little bridge, the last remaining submersible bridge in the department, and then a wooden footbridge over two streams. Continue ahead on the path until you reach the D149. Stop before the intersection to admire the 18th century Château de la Chatellenie. Nowadays, it functions as a guesthouse with self-catering cottages.
Go left on the road until you reach the junction with the Avenue Verte. Continue left on the Avenue Verte, all the way back to the starting point.
The Avenue Verte inland greenway is an old railway track connecting Arques-la-Bataille to Forges-les-Eaux. The greenway is open to anyone travelling on foot, by bicycle, on horseback or by rollerblade. It covers 40 kilometres of track and is closed to motorized vehicles. It is ideal for walking with children and is also accessible by people with reduced mobility.