☝️ Click on the above picture to watch a message especially for Australian travel agents from Dana, our Northern France Tourism Board representative based in Sydney ! ☝️
Northern France (Hauts-de-France) is France’s newest region. Formed in 2016 from the amalgamation of Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, it is the northernmost region of France.
It is located conveniently close to 2 of the worlds’ major international airports – Paris-Charles de Gaulle(just 20 minutes away) and London Heathrow. The region of Northern France has just been officially named the European Region Gastronomy for 2023, and everyone is being encouraged to “Explore our food, Uncover our hearts”.
From the region’s capital of Lille on the Belgian border, right down to the stunning town of Chantilly just 20km from Paris, Northern France is a rich mix of architectural wonders, medieval villages, gastronomic pleasures and of course is home to the Australian Remembrance Trail where the ANZACs fought so valiantly in WW1. When visiting France for the Rugby World Cup in 2023, discovering the region of Northern France and all it has to offer is a must.
Not to be missed: AMIENS – cathedral, floating gardens and gateway to the Australian Remembrance Trail…
Amiens (capital of the Somme department) is home to the only UNESCO listed cathedral in France outside of Paris.
Amiens Cathedral River Somme, Halage ©FLeonardi9
- Notre Dame de Amiens (External link) __ is the largest Gothic edifice ever built. The cathedral truly is an impressive and imposing site. From June to September the façade is illuminated up nightly in a glorious sound and light display.
Equally impressive yet so very different are the Hortillonnages (External link) __ – the Floating Gardens of Amiens. Some 300 hectares of winding waterways dating back to the middle ages. Take a relaxing and picturesque gondola ride or paddle a canoe to discover these exquisite gardens, all tended by their very passionate residents. It is a true haven of peace in a green setting just a short walk from the city centre.
Amiens is not only a modern city with peaceful pleasures of the countryside, but it is also the gateway to the Australian Remembrance Trail. Located next to the small town of Villers-Bretonneux, the Sir John Monash Centre (External link) is a key site of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front. The interpretive Centre is named after General Sir John Monash, the commander who led the Australian Corps with outstanding success on the Western Front in 1918. It was his meticulous planning and command in both offensive and defensive battles that saw Monash knighted in the field in 1918. The Centre is not a museum in the traditional sense but a multimedia interpretive hub.
A very different site not to miss along the Australian Remembrance Trail is the underground city of Naours (External link) . It is a three-kilometre labrynth of tunnels and home to the largest known collection of WW1 graffiti. Initially excavated in the 3rd century and used by villagers to shelter from armies crossing Northern France, it was used by WW1 soldiers for recreation.
The farmers markets dotted throughout the Northern France region are a treasure trove of fresh produce. Chefs from Michelin starred restaurants in Northern France come to these markets as inspiration for creating the most exquisite dishes. Fresh seafood from the Opal Coast, beautiful saffron from the Bay of Somme and saltmarsh lamb are just a few of the delicacies to be found in these markets which truly are an explosion of colour, textures, savours and flavours.
Senlis market © CRTC Hauts-de-France Xavier Renoux
Of course, we are in France, so there is no shortage of local cheeses. Maroilles (External link) is known not only for its intense “stinky” smell but its smooth texture and rich flavour. Markets in Senlis (External link) , Arras, Chantilly and Amiens – to name but a few – bring people from throughout the region and further afield to sample local delights. They all have a very convivial, social atmosphere and are the highlight of the week for many of the townspeople. You may very well find yourself sharing a table – and a drink – with a local in one of the many cafes which surround these markets and are always in the centre of town.
One of the most iconic dishes in the region is the ficelle Picardie.
This dish is a rolled savoury crêpe stuffed with a slice of ham and a fine paste of mushrooms, shallots, thyme and butter broiled in cream under a layer of cheese. Seriously, French crepes do not get any better than these.
No less famous are the macarons from Amiens. Another speciality of Picardie, the Amiens macaron was created in the sixteenth century. Like many famous French specialties, it was introduced by Catherine de Medici, when she left Tuscany to marry Henry II of France. France is undoubtedly the country of macarons and the ones from Amiens are, with their crispy texture outside and soft inside, like no other.
Overnight in Senlis and Chantilly…
Many Australians will be in Paris for key games of the Rigby World Cup 2023. The Gallo-Roman town of Senlis is just one hour from Paris but truly a world away. Visit the Gothic cathedral and simply wander around the town via its cobblestone pathways which often lead to the Art and Archaeology Museum, home to many originals by the renowned self-taught French artist Seraphine. After Senlis, it is a 10 minute drive through the forest of Chantilly to arrive in the centre of Chantilly (External link) – the equestrian capital of France and home to the largest collection of stables in Europe. The choice of accommodation styles is vast, from the very quaint three-star Hotel l’Chantilly to the majestic five-star Tiara Château Mont Royal Chantilly.
Chateau de Chantilly ©Martine Savart
The drawcard here is the Domaine de Chantilly. This is a triple treat with its stunning Chateau, the Musée Condé - home to the largest collection of Renaissance paintings outside of the Louvre – and the spectacular gardens which span over 115 hectares. This one night/two day vist will have you back in time for your next Rugby World Cup match in Paris. https://chateaudechantilly.fr/en/ (External link)
- By train: 1 hour by TGV from Paris and 1 hour from Roissy CDG TGV station.
Your Northern France representative based in Australia
Northern France Tourism Board
https://www.french-weekendbreaks.co.uk/ (External link)