Port towns, fresh seafood and rich history
Northern France’s appeal as a holiday destination has been largely centred around its battlefields and the D-Day beaches, but this area of the country has much more to recommend it than combat scarred landscapes: lovely port towns, charming seaside resorts, fine architecture and first class cuisine only begin the list.
The strong connection to the First World War cannot be overlooked since much of the fighting occurred here. Visitors can tour the battlefields of the Somme and the preserved trenches at Vimy Ridge, pause for reflection in one of the many cemeteries and explore the museums dedicated to the war. The Normandy landing beaches are also popular with history enthusiasts; the remains of German gun emplacements still dot the shoreline and memorials mark the landing points of the allied forces.
Beyond the beaches, the north of France has some fabulous examples of Gothic architecture, most notably in the cathedrals at Amiens and Laon. Each is as magnificent to behold from the outside as from within – sunlight filters through exquisite stained glass windows, high vaulted ceilings create a cavernous feel and intricate sculpting showcases the skill of the craftsmen. For gourmet food and culture, Lille is unrivalled, boasting superb restaurants, interesting museums and great shopping.
Taking the time to explore some of the highlights of the north, even if it’s just as an add-on to a trip to another part of Europe, is certainly worthwhile. For those who choose to spend a week or more here, the experience is thoroughly rewarding.
Catherine is French and worked in France for some time before moving to England. Belle France is the perfect opportunity for her to liaise with her home country on a daily basis.
Being French, Catherine has a good knowledge on most regions. She has taken responsibility for a wide area spreading from North, where she was born, to Northern West and Northern Eastern France.
9 Matching Holidays
Mont St Michel Walk
Walk around this famous UNESCO World Heritage site
There are great churches and great abbeys across the whole of Europe, but Mont St Michel, between Normandy and Brittany, is in a league of its own. Starting from Coutances, followed by the seaside resort of Granville with a possible visit to the...
Prestige Emerald Coast Cycling
Quiet coves, elegant seaside towns and Belle Epoque hotels
Featured in the Telegraph's 10 best cycling holidays for 2016, this easy cycle takes in the beautiful Brittany coastline and verdant countryside, following and criss-crossing the River Rance. Visit Belle Epoque towns and bustling fishing...
Picardy Pastures: Land of Battles and Cathedrals
Delve into the history of the medieval city of Laon and walk in the footsteps of the soldiers of the First World War
This centenary walk through the Picardy countryside takes you to some of the most poignant sites of World War I, enabling you to explore destroyed villages, visit the fascinating Dragon’s Lair and walk in the footsteps of the soldiers...
A Royal Ride to Versailles
Luxury cycling with forests, enchanting villages and royal châteaux
Discover the history and architecture of some of the best châteaux South of Paris. Enjoy an easy cycle through two of the most beautiful forests of France, green lungs at the gates of the capital. Going through gently rolling countryside and...
World War One Commemorative Cruise - Stage 2
Sites of historic and artistic significance in Northern France
Take a gentle cruise through landscapes that saw heavy engagement throughout The Great War and pay homage to those who bravely fought for their countries. We see many monuments erected in memorial of fallen heroes and towns and...
Champagne River Cruise
A voyage of sparkling Champagne, picturesque châteaux and gastronomic delights
Explore the undulating plains of a region famous for its bubbly apéritif and majestic cathedrals and châteaux, starting with an evening cruise through Paris, taking in the stunning floodlit Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. Meander your way along the...
World War One Commemorative Cruise - Stage 1
Voyage through century old battlefields visiting evocative memorials to the fallen
Join Panache on a fascinating journey through landscapes in Northern France that once witnessed events that changed the course of history. We journey along the Canal du Nord, the centre of many battles during World War One, stopping off at...
Seine Valley River Walk
Ancient woodland and ruined abbeys
With one or two steep sections to negotiate each day, this route rises from the river valley, taking in forest tracks through glorious woodland, towpaths along the slow moving Seine and quiet lanes leading past romantic ruined abbeys. The...
Baie de Somme
Sea air, wildlife and sandy beaches
Discover the beautiful Baie de Somme, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the Picardy coast. Open water, marshes, dunes and saltwater meadows make up a landscape where water and dry land seem to merge. It is one of France’s major sites for...