Quick Guide to Nord Pas De Calais and Picardie


Nord, Pas de Calais, Aisne, Oise, Somme

Popular Towns:

Lille, Douai, Amiens, Lens, Arras, Calais, Boulogne, Dunkerque, Le Touqet, St Quentin, Compiegne

Due to its closeness to Great Britain, the Nord du Calais and Picardie regions are the perfect opportunity for a day trip - with cosy café-culture in Pas de Calais, gourmet gastronomy in Aisne, and blissfully deserted beaches in Somme by the bucket load; it offers everything anyone could need for a bite-size slice of French life.

But whilst they may be the best option for a short break from the UK, those who only pop over for the day risk missing out on the extraordinarily friendly people, the poignant memorials in Nord, and the artistic and cultural hot-spots in Oise, which make the region all the better for getting to know. Give the region a chance, and it won't be long before you can't imagine how you thought you could do it all in a lifetime, let alone one day.

Top things to see...

  • The spectacular and sobering memorial and trenches at Vimy.
  • Explore the region by boat or bike using its extensive network of inland waterways or ever expanding selection or safe cycle routes.
  • The unspoilt coastline of Picardie, which has remained untouched by urban developments and looks identical to its built-up Mediterranean counterparts.
  • The controversial artwork in the Musée d'Art Moderne in Lille, and the astounding architecture of the complex itself.
  • The gothic cathedral at Amiens, one of the most popular UNESCO sites in France.

Top things to do...

  • Swap the white cliffs of Dover for pristine beaches at the elegant resort of Le Touquet.
  • Enjoy the unique opportunity to eat local French food alongside local Belgium beer at the crossroads of France and Belgium.
  • Browse the artisan markets, stroll the cobbled streets, and let yourself fall in-love with the old-world charm of Boulogne-sur-Mer.
  • Get a glimpse of Great Britain on the horizon from the turrets of one of the most spectacular castles nestled in fairytale beech forests at Chateau de Pierrefond.
  • Gallop along in the surf at Somme Bay on a fearless horse.

Famous for...

The Somme, Flemish beer, Calais, ferries, Amiens Cathedral, war memorials.

Did you know...?

Calais was the last part of France owned by England, and was only relinquished long after the 100 years war in 1558.

Getting there

By road... Very easily accessible from the UK, thanks to its proximity and its ferry ports.

By air... Flights are available to Lille from London, although given how close it is, it often is quicker to hop in the car and take the ferry.

By public transport... There is a huge day-tripper business which means there are literally hundreds of companies who can organise coaches to the region, which most offering flexi-passes so you can choose how long you stay. The train from Paris is also possible, but this is a bit of a convoluted way to get there as there it is doubling back on yourself. The best way is on the ferry.