62 Pas de Calais
Valenciennes, Lens, Douai, Béthune, Dunkirk, Maubeuge, Boulogne, Arras, Cambrai and Saint-Omer.
The most desirable area in the whole of France!
For two thousand years, this area of France has been fought over and contains some of the most famous names in history, Dunkerque, Calais, Azincourt, among
them. Surely this must be the most wanted part of France!
The more recent " invaders " have arrived more peacefully wanting the dream of the leisurely French lifestyle while keeping quick and easy links to family and friends in the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands
Arriving in France, either from the Channel or through Belgium, you travel through the flat, industrial heartland of the north around Dunkerque in Nord (59), the old mining areas, or the open country around Calais (62), or along the Opal coast, then the changing landscape as you get further south and through the green rolling hills as you head past St. Omer. From here on it's the broad expanse of cereal fields interspersed with cows and sheep; this is the agricultural heart of France.
In the centre of all this, stretching from Montreuil sur Mer to Aire sur La Lys and south to the Authie, is the area known as the Seven Valleys, formed from the local rivers of which only the Canche and the Authie reach the sea at Le Touquet and Berck respectively. Into these two rivers flow the Ternoise ( the river of Swords ), the Créquoise, the Planquette, the Course and the Lys which all give their names to the valleys along with the Bras de Bronne, probably the most spectacular of all!
Music is everywhere here and to suit all tastes from the very french one man and his accordion to the carnivales, with the traditional "Géants", from the local bar musicians to Main Square Festival in Arras offering 30 - 40 major stars of modern music to nearly a quarter of a million people over three days.
We don't have mountains, we don't have deserts we have gently rolling hills, rivers and forests. To make it even better we still have four seasons, ranging from 35° in the height of summer to a fairly chilly -20° in winter but best of all we have the warm-hearted, generous and true french people!
Food & Drink in Nord-Pas de Calais
Waterzooi is a dish originating from Belgium that is very popular in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, especially for family gatherings or friendly lunches on Sundays. The original version of this dish is made with fish, but many variations use chicken. In the latter case, the name is a Kippenwaterzooi. Eaten with the famous Poulet de Licques (local high-quality chicken meat), the Waterzooi is a must. The name of the dish originates from Water and Ziedem, meaning simmering water.
Sea or freshwater can be used. This stew is then made by melting vegetables, carrots, potatoes, herbs and leeks with eggs, cream and butter. The typical fish used is bass, eel, carp or pike though cod, halibut, turbot and monkfish are suitable too. Bread (a baguette is ideal) is used to sop up the soup.
This traditional dish is common to the Dunkirk area. Cold chicken, rabbit and veal meat are used with a rich jelly covering the mixture. Served with chips, this French meat dish is definitely a classic, for family meals. A local variation also makes use of apples cooked quickly and then fried.The traditional dish is normally eaten cold accompanied with chips and a fine regional beer (the choice is wide). Gherkins and salad are also ideal.
Les Bêtises de Cambrai are minty sweets. In French, a bêtise is a kind of nonsense or a stupidity, the word is normally used to talk to unruly children! It is said that in the 19th century, a teenager from the Afchain family made a mistake while preparing sweets for the family business, a "confiserie" (sweet shop). His mother told him that he had made "bêtises", but the clients loved the resulting minty sweets – which quickly became a huge success all over France! Betises, made only from natural products, are refreshing sweets with a pleasant taste and digestive benefits.
This is not known as a wine producing region, but the variety of local beers need sampling! As well as the local "bière de garde" (session beer) and the heady "bières d' Abbaye" available in the bars and supermarkets it's worth searching out the bar/brasseurs, the local bars that brew their "bière artisanale" on site (my personal favourite is the Bar de la Poste in St. Pol sur Ternoise where the genial host not only brews his excellent beer but runs a very good restaurant!)
Things To Do
Nord-Pas de Calais is a region that has plenty to offer: the "Cote d'Opale" is a beautiful west-facing coast with chalk cliffs, elegant resorts, and sandy beaches;
inland there are many areas of unspoilt countryside, particularly in the Pas de Calais. There are plenty of interesting towns and cities starting with Lille, the regional capital, and one of the
great historic cities of Flanders; other interesting towns include Arras, Saint-Omer, Boulogne, Douai and Valenciennes. Other places and sites of interest include:
Audomarois: the fenland around St.Omer, is a major wetland area with rich bird life, and a nature reserve.
Cassel: Attractive small town sitting on a hilltop dominating the plains all around.
Roubaix: "Art and history town" - The town, once a major textiles city, has an interesting heritage of old textile mills and urban architecture.
Le Quesnoy: Small town, one of the finest fortified cities in France.
Arques: Glassworks factory visit. Arques crystal is among the most famous in France.
Arras with it's Flemish square and beffroi, one of the Unesco sites and theWellington Quarry underground World War 1 museum.
Boulogne sur Mer: Classed as a "Town of art and history", Boulogne is an attractive fishing port with a museum housing a world-class collection of Egyptian antiquities and Nausica, the French national Sea Centre, and one of the largest aquariums in Europe.
Eperlecques: The notorious blockhouse from which V2 flying bombs were launched at London during the second world war. Museum and visits.
Lens: Opened Dec. 2012, Le Louvre Lens - an annexe of the Paris Louvre, permanent and temporary displays of works from the main Louvre, including many major works.
Montreuil sur Mer: Small old town with fortifications and known for it's annual "Son et Lumière" ( " Les Miserables " the result of Victor Hugo's position as Maire of the town ).
Chez Leopold: relax in rural France in this beautifully renovated farmhouse.
Ideal for families with children, groups or couples.
Located in beautiful countryside, the local area is excellent for walking and cycling. The beaches of the Cote d'Opale are less than 40 minutes away to the West and the battlefields of two World Wars the same distance in to the East. This is also the ideal base for a stop-over at Disneyland Paris, a little over 2 hours to the south. The local swimming centre is just 10 minutes away.
Chez-Leopold is set on the edge of a small dairy farming village, in nearly an acre of its own land. Set back from the quiet road by the large courtyard with parking for a number of cars and surrounded by a large garden (enclosed to ensure security for any children). Guests may enjoy fresh plums and cherries in late July & early August. There is a large patio area with a BBQ and children's outdoor toys including swings, climbing frame and child & adult cycles of all sizes.
The house has been carefully restored to provide you with a tranquil setting with all the modern amenities you require, including 2 wood burners and oil central heating downstairs and electric heaters upstairs
The accommodation includes four large bedrooms on two levels (sleeps 10 comfortably, or 12+ with futon and sofa bed ) with wood or stone floor throughout.
Ref No: RCH0027