From Lille to Arras, in the footsteps of Charles de Gaulle
It was in Northern France that this man, father of the Fifth Republic, spent his childhood. To better understand the early years of his life, visit 9 Rue Princesse in Lille, where he lived with his grandparents - it's now a museum (External link) . "Every time I came back here, I felt like a Lilleer again," Charles de Gaulle once said of this house.
On your way to Arras, take the time to stop at the Anneau de la Mémoire, a memorial to the lives sacrificed during the Great War. Inaugurated in 2014, this unique architectural structure bears the names of nearly 580,000 people killed in Nord-Pas-de-Calais between 1914 and 1918.
Continue your journey in Arras itself, where the young second lieutenant De Gaulle, fresh out of Saint-Cyr, was posted to the 33rd infantry regiment. Don't miss the impressive Musée des Beaux-Arts (External link) (Fine Arts Museum), housed in the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Vaast. The history of Arras is told here through tapestries, cathedral treasure, porcelain and 17th-century paintings.
Amiens, as seen by Jules Verne
In Amiens, take a trip around the world at famous writer Jules Verne's house (External link) , where he lived for 18 years. From the winter garden to the attic, immerse yourself in the world of the writer through over 700 objects and heritage documents; he wrote his most famous novels here. Climb up the tower of this atypical neo-Gothic house to enjoy a breathtaking city view.
Take a well-deserved lunch break at the Brasserie Jules (External link) , a popular restaurant for over 30 years. Enjoy excellent seafood and try the ficelle picarde, a regional speciality.
The last stop in Amiens is the Musée de Picardie (External link) with its impressive collections of archaeology, sculptures, art objects and paintings, from prehistory to the 20th century. A true palace, it was built on the model of Napoleon III's extension of the Louvre. Renovated several times, you'll find the Sol LeWitt rotunda, with its geometric patterns, at the entrance.
From Alexandre Dumas to Chantilly
Journey into the world of Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. He was born in Villers-Cotterêts, also known for being the place where French was recognised as the official language of the kingdom in 1539. Visit the Alexandre Dumas Museum, a 19th-century mansion that traces the lineage of the three Dumas. You will learn about the father, General of the Republic, as well as Dumas' son, author of La Dame aux Camélias.
Continue your journey through time to the Château de Chantilly (External link) . A jewel of French heritage, it was built by Henri d'Orléans, Duke of Aumale. This son of the last French king, Louis-Philippe, was known to be a great collector - and the château boasts the second largest collection of ancient paintings in France, after the Louvre. The works are displayed in the exact location chosen by the Duke 120 years ago, along with Raphael's famous painting 'The Three Graces'.
Don't leave Chantilly without visiting La Table du Connétable (External link) , a Michelin-starred restaurant set in the splendid gardens and parterre of the château. The elegance of the dishes rivals that of the décor, whose windows open onto the estate gardens and the Beauvais fountain.
Plan your trip to Northern France (External link) (French only)