12 Must-See Cultural Sites in Hauts-de-France

 
12 Must-See Cultural Sites in Hauts-de-France

Gillian Thornton gives a quick guide to 12 cultural experiences that you won’t want to miss in Hauts-de-France. Note: This article is part of a bigger magazine feature called “Departments of Culture: Hauts-de-France”.

Created in 2014, the region of Hauts-de-France is the third most populous region in France, encompassing the départements of Aisne, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, and Somme. Memorials and war cemeteries from the First and Second World Wars dot the landscape but you can also head further back in time to the Battle of Agincourt (Azincourt) in 1415, where the English won a surprising (and vital) victory in the Hundred Years’ War. After you’ve had your fill of culture, rest your head in one of the many luxury hotels or charming B&Bs the region has to offer.

Visit the fascinating exhibitions at the Louvre-Lens museum © Shutterstock

Louvre-Lens

Temporary exhibitions this year are Rome, its art and civilisation (until July 25) and, from September 28 to January 16, 2023, an exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of Jean-François Champollion’s deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
www.louvrelens.fr

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Visitor Centre © Shutterstock

CWGC Experience

Opened just before the pandemic, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Visitor Centre in Beaurains provides a fascinating insight into the work of the Commission across the world and the 3,000 cemeteries in France alone.
www.cwgc.org

Stunning Amiens Cathedral © Gillian Thornton

Amiens

Home town of Jules Verne and famous for having France’s largest Gothic cathedral, which took just 60 years to build. See the sculpted façade illuminated in brilliant colour on summer evenings and take a boat trip through Les Hortillonnages marshland.
www.visit-amiens.com

Find out more about the Battle of Azincourt at Centre Azincourt 1415 © Gillian Thornton

Centre Azincourt 1415

Reopened last year after a complete overhaul, this engaging interactive museum brings the Hundred Years War vividly to life and in particular, the dramatic events that took place here outside the village of Azincourt in 1415.
www.Azincourt1415.com

Wellington Quarry © Yannick Cadart

Wellington Quarry, Arras

The visitor centre has been enhanced at this emotive remembrance site where thousands of soldiers quartered underground just a few metres from the German front before the Battle of Arras on April 9, 1917.
www.carrierewellington.com

Explore the Château de Chantilly © Gillian Thornton

Château de Chantilly

Tour the castle and gardens, take in a 30-minute equestrian demonstration beneath the dome of the Great Stables, and enjoy a picnic, light meal or gourmet lunch in the historic château kitchen. You could even try your luck at the nearby racecourse.
www.domainedechantilly.com

The interior courtyard of the International City of Lace and Fashion, Calais © Gillian Thornton

Lace and Fashion Museum, Calais

Five galleries in a restored 19th century factory in the Saint-Pierre district that cover the expertise, techniques and use of lace in fashion, design and the applied arts. Temporary exhibitions. restaurant and gift shop.
www.cite-dentelle.fr

Lille has plenty of outstanding architecture to enjoy © Shutterstock

Lille

When you’ve had your fill of museums, wander the cobbled streets of Vieux-Lille, soak up the architecture of the Grand’Place, and browse the markets and boutiques. Must-do fast food is a traditional waffle from the famous Pâtisserie Méert.
www.lilletourism.com

Inside Laon Cathedral © Gillian Thornton

Laon

Located on the Via Francigena between Canterbury and Rome, this hilltop town in Picardy had strong links with England. Look up to see the cathedral with five towers and go underground on a hidden history tour through Les Souterrains passages.
www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com

Montreuil-sur-Mer seen from the sky © Shutterstock

Montreuil-sur-Mer

Cobbled streets, rampart walks and a strong foodie tradition make this small inland town a must. Victor Hugo used locations here in Les Misérables. Visit in summer to catch the sound and light show inspired by his bestselling novel.
www.destinationmontreuilloisencotedopale.com

La Piscine Roubaix Photo: Lille Metropole

La Piscine, Roubaix

See the sunlight stream through the stained glass “sun” window on to still water and hear the laughter of happy bathers from a bygone age as you enjoy ceramics, sculpture and paintings in these unique and stunning surroundings.
www.roubaix-lapiscine.com

The beautiful facade of Saint-Quentin’s town hall © Gillian Thornton

Saint-Quentin

A logistics hub for German forces in World War I, Saint-Quentin was devastated in 1918 but rebuilt in Art Deco style. Expect buildings embellished with geometric patterns and stylised flowers, wrought iron and bay windows.
www.destination-saintquentin.fr

From France Today magazine

Lead photo credit : Stroll around the beautiful Montreuil-sur-Mer © Yannick Cadart

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