Northern France, it’s more than you think!

Aerial view of  the stunning Château de Chantilly

Posted by on 01 Nov 2019 , in Europe

Heading to Northern France? Treat yourself and spend some time exploring this historical and charming region. The battles in World War I have left their mark in the form of compelling museums as well cemeteries and memorials. But this fascinating region of Northern France is not only about war sites. The Hauts de France are also famed for gothic art, royal castles, horses and the Chantilly whipped cream!

Royal castles

Gateway to Northern France, the Château de Chantilly houses France’s large collection of antique paintings after the Louvre, though the town is best known for its horses – its 17th-century stables are home to the fascinating Museum of the Horse, while the stunning 19th-century racecourse is one of the most prestigious in Europe. Also well known as the deliciously sweetened thick crème Chantilly was created here.

Discover the Château de Pierrefonds and Château de Compiègne where Napoléon expressed his love for Marie-Louise in a grand landscaping gesture

Architectural heritage & picturesque villages

Visiting Northern France also means going back in time! Just 10km east of Chantilly, boasting Gallo-Roman ramparts, the medieval town of Senlis is the perfect place for a stroll with its paved streets lined with mansions and beautiful residences. Incredibly charming, the old town has been used as a set on numerous films.

Stroll through the medieval streets of Amiens housing its flamboyant Gothic cathedral, immerse yourself nature by exploring its famous “floating gardens”. With 300 hectares of water gardens, Amiens is known as the “Venice of the North”. Discover historic and charming Arras, a place to walk and wonder. From Lille and its Flemish architectural heritage, the medieval city of Laon to St Omer, the quintessential rural French town with a history, you are going to be charmed by what the region has to offer.

Seaside resorts, beaches & cliffs

The immense beaches of fine sand, the picturesque fishing villages and the elegant seaside resorts of the Opal Coast and the Picard Coast invite to both relaxation and sports activities. With beautiful beaches from Calais, through to the famous Bay of Somme, an unspoiled natural site that attracts many wild birds and home to France’s largest wild seal colony, the nature and seaside fans will be delighted.

See Boulogne-sur-mer; go through the vast stone gateways and discover you have stepped back in time. Pretty, quirky, little shops and charming restaurants in the rue de Lille will keep you coming back for more. Discover Montreuil-sur-Mer, a charming walled town with beautiful old houses and churches, its imposing ramparts and its cobbled streets and Le Touquet Paris-plage, a swish little resort which is a Paris secret and was once THE jet set place to go, it’s known as the “Monaco of the north.

Battlefields sites

The Somme was so entrenched in the first World Wat that it is seldom mentioned today without “battlefield” preceding or following it. Learn more about World War I and its impact on today’s world by visiting some of the major sites connected with the conflict – among them the Thiepval Memorial, Sir John Monash Centre as well as more off-the-beaten, small-scaled memorials and cemeteries, all set within rolling landscapes dotted by tranquil traditional villages.

Gourmet treats

Among the sweet delicacies of Northern France, the waffle from Méert is without doubt the most famous: filled with Madagascan vanilla, it’s the emblem of this prestigious confectioner which has delighted the Lillois since 1761. If you have a sweet tooth, you should also taste the marvelous double meringues welded together by a chocolate whipped cream, and the tarte au sucre, made with brown sugar from sugar beet. Do you know the Picardy ficelle? Unrelated to the mini baguette, it’s a kind of crêpe (pancake) stuffed with ham and mushroom duxelle and topped with cream and grated Gruyère cheese.

You can also feast on the ratte potato from Le Touquet, eaten in its skin; waterzoi, a dish originating from Belgium made from poultry or fish with vegetables cooked in a broth with crème fraîche; or Maroilles flammiche, an iconic cheese pie from the region.

As for the fricadelle, it’s a must for any self-respecting ch’ti (Pas-de-Calais local): try this minced meat sausage in the local chip shops, accompanied by chips of course!

If you plan to visit the Battlefields, why not extend your stay and explore deeper this beautiful region ?

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