Hauts de France forms a région in North of France It is bounded to the west by Normandy, to the east by Grand Est, and to the south by Ile-de-France.
Hauts de France’s population is 6 million and its surface area is 32,000 km².
Town property guides
A culture of difference
From green farmland to the long beaches, passing through towns and villages, people of this région cheerfully cultivate the difference and even more the diversity that creates the wealth of this region.
The belfries and their chimes proudly mark the country, reminding us that there, traditions have meaning. The coastal wind is much appreciated by sliding sports enthusiasts, beaches and dunes shelter children ’s laughter, main towns combine international shopping with local markets, the waterways provide numerous occasions to approach a nature with a surprising diversity. The Flemish-influenced architecture invites you to “enter into the decor ”,hundreds of kilometers of nature welcome walkers, cyclists and horse riders; flea markets,carnivals, ducasses (fairs) and parades draw you into a breathtaking whirl of festivities. The golf courses appeal to the enthusiasts of this sport.
An Ornithologist’s Paradise
From the wetlands of the west to the cornfields of the east, paths crisscross this countryside, which you can explore either on foot, on a mountain bike or in a boat. Of course, taking to the canals or “watergangs” offers the best opportunity for observing the spotted bittern and the crested grebe.
There is also an old steam locomotive which leaves from Saint-Valéry sur Somme and takes you to Cayeux and Le Crotoy in the bay of the Somme, which is itself a bird’s paradise. When you get there, be sure to visit the “Maison de l’Oiseau” as well as the Marquenterre Park, a superb spot for a picnic. Afterwards, between Hesdin and Montreuil, in the heart of the seven valleys region, you can revel in a dish of redcurrants eaten in the shadow of one of the area’s many abbeys.
The Hauts de France region is made up of the former fiefdoms of Artois, Picardy, Flanders and Champagne and still displays the scars of many a battle. You will find numerous examples of Dutch, Flemish and Spanish influence, including the Gothic cathedrals of Amiens, Beauvais and Rheims, as well as sundry belfries, castles and citadels.
At Quesnay, take the road through the Thirteen Fortified Towns of Vauban and Louis XIV. In Cambrai you should visit the Saint-Géry church to see the painting “The Burial of Rubens,” before relishing in a chitterling sausage with juniper.
Climb up the belfry at Douai before hurrying along to the Chartreuse, home to treasures by Veronese, Pissaro and Renoir. In Lille, take a look at the Hospice Contesse and visit the Beaux Arts Museum. Do not miss the Arras Museum for its collection of porcelain. When in Calais, pay hommage to Rodinís “Six Bourgeois” who now oversee the ferries to England.
After a visit to the “Mémorial de Vimy,” follow the road of remembrance from La Targuette cemetery to the Abbey of Mont Saint-Eloi, then on to the hill of Lorette and visit the symbolic European Centre for Peace at Soulez. From there, you can also take in the Museum of the Second World War at Ambleteuse, followed by the Museum of the Atlantic Wall at Audinghen.
If you are in the mood for a trip down memory lane, do not forget the mines and the miner’s cottages, especially if you can have a former miner as your tour guide. This is possible at the historical mining centre of Lewarde near Douai.
The battle of Dunkirk
During World War II, Operation Dynamo was the name given to the evacuation from Dunkirk conducted from 27 May to 4 June, 1940. In nine days, 340,000 French and British soldiers were taken off the beach by a ragtag fleet of over nine hundred vessels. These vessels, now known as the “Little Ships of Dunkirk” were a mainly a mixture of merchant marine vessels, fishing boats, pleasure craft and RNLI lifeboats, whose details had been requisitioned by the Admiralty on May 14 May. Though the “Miracle of the Little Ships” is a major folk memory (at the time a useful propaganda tool too) and indeed small excursion steamers, pleasure boats and even rowboats DID help evacuate troops from the beaches – over 80% of the troops evacuated were actually taken off the harbour’s protective mole by destroyers and larger ships.
Despite the success of this operation, over fifty thousand vehicles and forty thousand French troops were abandoned after a valiant rearguard action. The British also lost 235 ships of various types.
The rearguard, largely French, surrendered on 3 June 1940. The next day, the BBC reported, “Major-General Harold Alexander (the commander of the rearguard) inspected the shores of Dunkirk from a motorboat this morning to make sure no-one was left behind before boarding the last ship back to Britain.”
Outdoor and indoor activities
At the Marine Centre of Nausicaa, you will alternate between the roles of man and fish, spectator and actor. On the dunes between Flanders and the Opale Coast you can play golf, windkart, go fishing, motorbiking and horseriding. In Bailleul you’ll enjoy a charcoal grill, pick out some lace and join in the rumpus of the Carnaval.
When in Dunkerque don’t hesitate to take part in the festive sending-off of the fishermen to Iceland, a celebration that lasts a month. In Cassel, the giants daddy Reuze and mummy Reuze will challenge you to a round of “billon” or “bourle” while the windmills spin in the air on the hills.
You should make the most of the regional specialities, knowing that the choice is wide: smoked mackerel and herring, the popular “mussels and chips” and “Waterzoï”.
Along the way stop and see the charming fishing villages like Audresselles or Wissant and the seaside resorts with their Anglo-Norman style villas like Wimereux, Hardelot or Le Touquet.
On foot or by bicycle, wrapped in a warm pullover or just a swimsuit, discover the variety of landscapes of the Côte d’Opale with its ever changing rainbow coloured skies pushed along by the wind which sometimes blows so hard that it’s hard to catch your breath ! The majestic “Le Grand Site National des Caps”, two immense cliffs that overlook the busiest navigation channel in the world. On a clear day you can even catch sight of the British coastline (just 34kms away), as well as the flotilla of “flobarts” (local fishing boats), trawlers, pleasure boats and car ferries, that bob up and down on the sea, under the watchful eye of the look-out post located on top of the “Gris Nez” cliff.
In Lille you can visit many museums : Palais des Beaux-Arts (the biggest museum in France after the Louvre), the “Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle”(he was born there), Museum of the Hospice Comtesse… Lille really deserves its title of City of Heritage and Art. Besides its colourful Flemish architecture and its narrow ornamented facades (of which the “Vieille Bourse” is a prime example), Lille has a rich and varied heritage. French classical style houses sit alongside the eclectism of ” grands boulevards ” or even the “maisons Folie”, these former factories (textile, brewery) that are experiencing a start as new cultural and meeting centres.
You can be part of the Northern gastronomy culture and discover the various meals which will make your mouth water. Here are some of the most famous :
- Leek pie
- Maroilles pie
- Lucullus tongue from Valenciennes
- Cod whith a beetroot cream
- Salmon with Ch’ti’s beer
- Mussels with fries
- Fish stew with beer
- Andouille of Aire-sur-la-Lys
- Boudin with cinnamon,
- Filet mignon of pig with speculos
- Kidney of pig from Douai
- Welch (piece of bread soaked in beer with cheddar on top and grilled)
- Hochepot (pot-au-feu)
- Rabbit with prunes
- Andouillette of Arras
- Cock with beer
- Endives with ham
- Chicken with beer
- Andouillette of Cambrai
- Petit salé lillois
Tourism office in Nord-Pas-De-Calais:
Maps of Nord-Pas-De-Calais:
Travel from the UK
By Ferry: POFerries navigate to Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer.
By Rail : Eurostar go to Calais and Lille.
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Hauts de France. We have a large network of partners in Nord Pas De Calais. All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouse, longere, barn, gite, B&B, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a property in Hauts de France matching your requirements.