Feel Northern France

Feel Northern France with our top sensory experiences

A hop, skip and a ferry across the Channel brings you to Calais and the Hauts-de-France region of northern France. Hauts-de-France is a hub for art lovers, foodies and history buffs alike, a place where you can slow down and soak up the famous French art de vivre.

Spring and summer are ideal times to explore the cultural heritage of your closest French region. There are numerous UNESCO-listed gems here, plus chateaux, museums, galleries and remembrance sites. Charming towns and villages such as Gerberoy, Arras and Montreuil-sur-Mer rub shoulders with elegant seaside resorts like Le Touquet on the Opal Coast. The Somme bay is one of the world’s most beautiful and there are outdoor activities to be enjoyed throughout the region. Leave time for a visit to Nausicaa in Boulogne-sur-Mer, one of the world’s largest aquariums with a strong focus on protecting the marine environment. With P&O Ferries it's easy to go to Northern France from the UK: more information on the Dover to Calais route (External link)

Live Northern France like a local with your free insider’s guide to authentic French experiences. Packed with hidden secrets, in-depth articles and recipe ideas, there’s no better guide to planning your holiday.


The architecture of Northern France is particularly attractive with its abundance of Flemish influences; great examples include the grandiose Grand Place in Arras, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Grâce in Cambrai, the Vieille Bourse (Old Stock Exchange) in Lille, Béthune’s lofty bell tower and Saint-Quentin’s Art-Déco splendour. In the UNESCO jewel of Amiens, exploring the 13th-century Gothic cathedral, with its renowned sculptures, should be first on your list.


Petrolheads can get an adrenaline rush with the rev of engines at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille, taking place every two years against the magnificent backdrop of the Chateau de Chantilly. The Somme Bay is a birdwatcher's paradise, where you’ll hear a cacophony of 350 different species at the Parc du Marquenterre, plus the barks of a colony of harbour seals. The Platier d’Oye nature reserve near Calais is equally worth a visit.


If you want to taste the essence of Northern France, book in for dinner at a bistro and order carbonade flamande. Made with beef and onions slow-cooked in beer and brown sugar, it’s the ultimate comfort food. Another speciality dish is the ficelle picarde, a delicious Béchamel-sauce-topped pancake stuffed with ham, mushrooms and shallots. Don’t miss the excellent mussels, either! For the sweet-toothed, there are oval-shaped gaufres fourrées (filled waffles), which originated in Lille in the 19th century, enjoyed as a snack with beer or hot chocolate.


With its 23km of coastline, rugged cliffs, breathtakingly diverse terrain and coastal villages, the Grand Site des Deux-Caps is an emblematic area of Northern France, popular for walks and general outdoor adventure. The seaside resorts of Berck-sur-Mer, Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and Boulogne-sur-Mer combine the pleasures of the beach and numerous watersports with the fast-paced thrills of the casino. The scenic Somme Bay offers countless outdoor activities including kayaking, yachting, hiking, horse-trekking and bike trips. Live like a local at the Braderie de Lille, an open-air flea market (the largest in Europe), where you can browse bric-a-brac to your heart’s content.


You can’t visit Northern France without experiencing the pungent smells of the local produce at the markets. There are characterful cheeses made here such as Vieux-Lille and the strong, orange cow’s-milk Maroilles cheese, which is used to make the local savoury tart known as flamiche.
Montreuil-sur-Mer is rapidly developing into the foodie hub of Northern France; this small medieval town has a two-Michelin-star restaurant and another with one star, so consider booking well in advance if you fancy a real gourmet treat.
In Amiens, explore the fragrant floating market gardens or hortillonnages, cultivated since the Middle Ages – stroll along the towpaths or explore this intricate network of tiny canals by traditional boat.

Immerse yourself in the French art de vivre at your doorstep and explore our weekend breaks in Northern France

• Stay in five-star château splendour in Chantilly
Chantilly has everything you need for a luxury weekend break just outside Paris. Lay your head in its eponymous five-star château-hôtel… and indulge in plenty of Chantilly cream.
Find out more here (External link) .

• Take a foodie break by the sea in Montreuil-sur-Mer
Stay in a luxury B&B in this famous seaside resort, with its connections to Victor Hugo’s iconic Les Misérables. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Calais and has a maze of medieval cobblestoned streets with lashings of old-world French charm.
Find out more here (External link) .

• Learn the intricacies of lace-making in Calais
Fancy learning about lace? Your B&B for the night was formerly a lace-making house – and your host is the granddaughter of a lace designer. She’ll fascinate you with her family anecdotes and you can visit Calais’ Lace Museum too, which displays beautiful French and international creations.
Find out more here (External link) .

• Relax near Amiens Cathedral and absorb the local history
Relax at the foot of the UNESCO-listed Amiens cathedral in a luxury bolthole with its own hidden courtyard. It’s a great base to visit the 19th-century Maison Jules Verne, formerly belonging to the famous writer, where you can learn about his intriguing life.
Find out more here (External link) .

• Fall under the spell of Merlin's fairytale château in Pierrefonds
Travelling with the family? The Château de Pierrefonds is an ideal destination for a touch of magic – it served as the setting for Camelot in the BBC series Merlin. Stay the night in a charming 19th-century house nearby.
Find out more here (External link)

• Spend a weekend by the sea in Boulogne-sur-Mer and visit Nausicaá, the largest aquarium in Europe
Enjoy the exceptional opening of the great Nausicaá to live a sea weekend with the children. Facing Nausicaá, the hotel La Matelotte offers you a wellness and gastronomic stay. Here we pamper you and your children. Come live this marine experience in Boulogne-sur-Mer.
Find out more here (External link)

Northern France