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France-Nord-Pas-de-Calais
France-Nord-Pas-de-Calais
© François Louant / 123RF
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Things to see in Nord-Pas-de-Calais
By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Enogastronomy

The cuisine of the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region is similar to that of its Belgian neighbours, yet with a distinctly French twist. Waffles are a local specialty and although traditionally eaten with sweet toppings, come with savoury fillings too. Endives and herring are popular too, and of course, that French favourite garlic is used in many dishes. France wouldn't be France without its cheeses, and each region has its specialties; Maroilles is a cow's milk cheese and you will probably smell it before you see it...!

Arts and culture

There are several interesting museums and galleries in the region, notably in Lille which is renowned for being the cultural centre of the north. In fact, it boasts the largest museum in France outside of Paris, the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille (Lille Palace of Fine Arts). Being la France, most major cities in the region boast excellent museums. Visitors can admire the works of Flemish, French and Dutch masters.

Coasts

The 75-mile coastline of Nord-Pas-de-Calais is known as the 'Côte d'Opale', or the Opal Coast, and sits between Calais and Berk-sur-Mer. Dotted along the stretch are fine sandy beaches and their clourful huts on which it is possible to practice sand yachting and kite surfing. Hiking is also possible along the beautiful dunes as well as through the pine forests just behind the beaches. There are pretty little fishing villages to visit such as Wissant and Etaples as well as larger resorts such as Le Touquet-Paris-Plage and Wimereux. You can get a taste of the region's history too by visiting the bunkers and rampart which were used to protect this oft-attacked coastline. For views of the coast and of ships coming in from England, stand atop the footpath connecting the two famous capes of Blanc-Nez and Gris-Nez, White Nose and Grey Nose respectively.

The fauna and flora

The region has a varied landscape which attracts a range of wildlife and which supports a varied flora. Marshes, forests, fields and coastline welcome different birds such as bluethroats, plovers and little owls and plants such as reeds abd vetches. Nord-Pas-de-Calais is also home to several national parks including the Parc Naturel Régional de l'Avenois, the Parc Naturel Régional Scarpe-Escaut and the Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d'Opale.

Activities and leisure

The rolling, lowland hills of Nord-Pas-de-Calais are a great place for active pursuits. The region boasts a large network of cycling routes, walking tracks, and even fields perfect for quad biking. In the south of the region, the marshlands and forests are great for spotting flora and fauna, while the coastal area is home to wide beaches for swimming and sand surfing. In addition, the region has a number of amusement and activity parks suited to "kids" of all ages...

Sports and activties

The athlete in you will have plenty to keep active and fit whilst visiting the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region. Besides a multitude of water sports along the "Opal Coast," on dry land golfers will be in their element at the Dunkerque Grand Littoral Golf Course. Cycling and football are also popular, as is rugby, and for something a bit different why not try sand yachting?