When many of us think of holidaying in France, our minds naturally conjure images of the French Riviera, the Helter Skelter of Paris, and the impressive mountains that fringe the borders with Spain and Switzerland. But how about we give northern France a shot?
Boasting plenty of towns and villages that make for a wonderful weekend getaway that isn’t far from southern England, the north of the country is home to some of the most impressive Medieval artefacts, historical sites, and glistening coastlines. Here are just some places that you should visit in northern France.
What used to just be the stop before Paris on the Eurostar that was constantly overlooked has become quite the cultural hub in recent years. Lille’s old town is exceedingly charming and houses plenty of impressive buildings like the Vieille Bourse in the Grand Place.
Vieux Lille gives one a true taste of Flemish culture with traditional red-brick houses, a grand gothic cathedral, and plenty of ornate eateries and cafes that serve up some of the country’s best patisserie. And whilst you’re there, head to Arras for a day trip where you can explore the war tunnels and enjoy colorful Art Deco buildings aplenty.
Made famous by the Allied troops’ evacuation in 1940, Dunkirk has a complicated history that both celebrates the thousands of soldiers who were rescued there and commemorates the ones who also died there. Consequently, the town is full of museums and war memorials that map out this unforgettable period of history.
Then, venture out to the Eastern Jetty that overlooks the beaches of Dunkirk. Here, one can imagine the endless lines of men who were waiting desperately to be safely evacuated. Finally, pay your respects to the 4,528 British soldiers who didn’t make it out alive and are commemorated in unmarked graves in the Toute de Furnes cemetery.
A destination for foodies if there ever was one, the town of Calais is home to some of the best restaurants in the area. Names to look out for include Restaurant Aquar’Aile, Le Grand Bleu, and Histoire Ancienne, all of which are pioneers of local produce and sustainable producers.
After dinner, opt for a gentle swim at the beach and then proceed to explore the small bays and beaches that hug the cliffs. Can you imagine a more magical place for sunset?
A destination primed for outdoor lovers and anyone who has a soft spot for adventure, Boulogne-sur-Mer is home to some of the best bike tours in France. Depending on how long you want the ride to be, you can enjoy easy-going routes along the EuroVelo 4 or ramp up the difficulty level with the Côte d’Opale.