A Handbook of Northern France

By William Marris Davis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE LOWLANDS OF NORTHERNMOST FRANCE AND WESTERN BELGTUM

60. The Lowland, the Maritime Plain, and the Dunes. The chalk uplands of Picardy and Artois fall off abruptly northeastward to the lowland of the district known as Flanders, partly in France, partly in Belgium, where the chalk strata, warped down to lower levels, are overlapped by younger beds of sand and silt. This area may be divided into three belts parallel to the shore line; the middle belt is a low maritime plain, about 30 k. wide in Belgium, but widening northeastward; it is of fine, moist soil, hardly above the level of the sea, from which it is separated by the outer belt of beach and dunes; the third belt is farther inland, a gently undulating sandy lowland, which rises gradually southeastward; it may be called the lowland of Flanders. The lowland will be first described; then the maritime plain, and finally the belt of dunes.

The Lowland of Flanders. The lowland is relatively infertile: it is the narrow beginning of a long belt of sandy country originally covered with heathery moors, which widens northeastward and stretches across Belgium and Holland into Germany. Parts of the surface are more fertile, where it is cloaked with a fine yellow loam, which is rapidly transformed into mud in wet weather, as many a soldier knows who has served in the trenches hereabouts. Occasional hills surmount the lowland. On the French side of the boundary, the pic-

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