The Somme Bay steam train
Take a step back in time with your family as you board an authentic steam train. The Bains de Mer service from Le Crotoy to Cayeux-sur-Mer, circling the bay, offers a real trip back to the Belle Epoque. You'll hear the conductor's whistle, the powerful blast of steam and the creaking of the wooden train as it starts to move, the train's whistle and the clatter of the wheels on the rails. It's a bumpy ride at 20 km/h and there's plenty of time to watch the salt meadow sheep and Henson horses. You can combine a train ride with a cycle around the bay, and sometimes there are special events, such as for Fête Nationale (14 July), when you can watch fireworks from the train.
Nausicaá: Europe's largest aquarium
In Boulogne-sur-Mer, Nausicaà plunges its visitors into an incredible 'Journey to the High Seas', with a tank described as the largest in Europe. Like an underwater descent, the journey takes visitors close to thousands of species of all kinds: jellyfish, stingrays, groupers and sharks The highlight of the show is a 100m² glass window, behind which almost 20,000 species of fish are on display. Both children and their parents feel very small faced with the grandeur of this unique attraction. Nausicaà is also extremely educational, aiming to make its visitors aware of biodiversity and ocean protection from a very young age. Kids can watch the attendants dive into the tanks and ask them questions. An impressive place to visit that the whole family will enjoy.
Parc d'Olhain's tobogganing and rope course
Want a family-friendly weekend at the heart of nature? Head to Parc d'Olhain , a 200-hectare protected natural park bursting with activities. There's an all-season sledging run stretching for over a kilometre, including 650m of vertiginous descent with a 70m difference in height, all in total safety and suitable for age three and up. Extend the nature experience by spending the night in a 'nest ', a comfortable hut perched six metres in the air. Children will (for once) love going to bed, using a net to climb up the tree. A fun-packed weekend that they won't soon forget.
A teenage digital detox at Prieuré Saint-Rémy
A retreat all together in a countryside priory? And without a phone in sight?! It's a challenge, but it's manageable: nature brings everyone together and strengthens family values. After a complicated year, everyone will enjoy the simple beauty of the great outdoors. Prieuré Saint-Rémy is the starting point for many walks across fields as far as the eye can see. Stay in the priory's comfortable rooms and enjoy its garden of aromatic and medicinal plants, with fragrances that awaken the senses. Take the opportunity to try a brand new activity: a collective qi gong session under the trees, really beneficial for channelling the energies of the whole family.
A museum escape game
The Henri Dupuis Museum in Saint-Omer, the Musée Gallé Juillet in Creil, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes and the Musée de Flandre in Cassel have all taken up the challenge of attracting teenagers to museums. How, you ask? By demystifying the concept of the museum and offering a popular activity: the Escape Game. This is a lifesize escape game that encourages participants to work together to solve a riddle. Requiring logic, speed and observation skills, teenagers are 100% involved in this race against the clock. Combining entertainment with the museum masterpieces, it's an excellent initiative that makes culture less intimidating, more accessible and - ultimately - more attractive.
Plan your trip to Northern France (French only)