The vast tidal ranges of this timeless, car-free archipelago off the Normandy coast offer a shifting and magical seascape

It’s low tide in the Chausey Islands and our barefoot group are peering into a shallow rock pool. Olivier, our guide, stoops to investigate: it holds a green crab, some shrimps and a clam, which he prizes open and offers us raw.

A landscape of rocky outcrops, linked by swathes of rippled sand, stretches to the horizon. Bright green algae and clumps of darker seaweed cling to granite mounds – yet there’s something otherworldly about the scene. Mud and sand squelch between our toes as we wander, crossing cold rivulets of seawater and scrambling over boulders. Olivier points out seabirds, lobster pots and the wooden posts used for growing mussels.

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