Top 5 Must Visit Locations in Northern France
25 July 2017
Pull back the curtain on northern France’s visible industrial leanings and you will find a holiday destination brimming with tangible references to the devastating battles of both World War I and II, alongside a host of charming seaside port towns and a friendly atmosphere which many proclaim is the most welcoming across the entirety of the nation.
We have picked out our favourite spots to visit along the northern coastline that will ensure any holiday to northern France comprises the north are filled with cultural enrichment and intriguing discovery.
A visit to Hauts-de-France or ‘Upper France’ wouldn’t be complete without stopping off in Paris, the nation’s fluttering heartbeat of romantic sophistication and iconic landmarks. A tour up the Eiffel Tour is a must on a first-time visit, before exploring the everlasting appeal of the Parisian café culture segueing along the sidewalks. Underpinning Paris’ alluring beauty are unending cultural riches among the bohemian arts scene and a wealth of historic museums, after which you can stroll along The River Seine and bask in the twilight calm.
Normandy's D-Day Landing Sites
The inspiration for several Monet paintings, Normandy has been blessed with a natural north western coastal beauty inclusive of roaming greenery, farmland and secluded cliff-lined beach escapes. Enchanting seaside destinations include Honfleur commune with its picturesque ancient harbour where you can enjoy local delicacies while watching the daily fleet of fishing boats return, while the soaring Gothic cathedral and restored medieval quarter of Rouen represents one of Normandy’s most fascinating destinations.
A visit to the World War II D-Day landing sites on the Normandy beachfront represents a moving excursion for the whole family, where you can witness remnants of machine gun bunkers and hollowed out ground where bombs were dropped by Allied forces as the magnitude of events is brought to life.
Situated on the Deûle River on the cusp of the Belgian border, Lille is another city well worth visiting in the northern reaches of France. The city is renowned for its friendly nightlife and is rising through the ranks of travellers looking for self-confident cultural hubs, with the attractive old town area holding much appeal, not least for visitors seeking out the Grand Place. This medieval marketplace contains arguably the city’s most eye-catching landmark in the La Vielle Bourse, while nearby Flemish enthused buildings and neo-gothic Notre Dame de la Treille cathedral comprise a highly photogenic city.
Seaside Bliss in St Brevin les Pins
Surveying the Atlantic Ocean is the seaside resort of Saint Brevin les Pins on the north-west French coast. A heady blend of golden sanded beaches, child-friendly shallow waters and a smattering of local town shops create the ideal destination for a family beach adventure. The area is also renowned for water sports activities, with the chance to try your hand at yachting, beach surfing and speed-sailing, while a charming town centre is the place to be on most weekends, seeing market stalls selling a range of local foods and handcrafted objects to take back home.
Another recommended city location in the north would be Caen. Handily located only 20km from the nearest coastline, historical enthusiasts are spoilt for choice with several sites of significance on display, including Caen Memorial Museum where you can pay respects and read accounts of the D-Day landings. A visit to Caen Castle is also highly rewarding for both history and arts aficionados, with the prominent medieval fortress now used to display some of Europe’s finest artistic creations.