Nord-pas de Calais is one of the 27 regions of France and is split into the departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. Bordering on Belgium, it has always been a strategic region in Europe, and consequently heavily fought over. Nord-Pas-de-Calais became a major centre of heavy industry in the 19th century and suffered an economic slump when mines closed and the steel industry declined. Tourism, particularly in Lille, has now grown considerably, boosting the economy.
Despite initially not being thought of as a tourist area, the region has a lot to offer, such as its beautiful Opal Coast. It’s also one of the easiest places in France to reach from the United Kingdom, taking just under two hours from London by Eurostar. Stay in Premiere Classe Lille Centre Hotel to experience fine architecture with a Flemish influence in one of the region’s most interesting towns.
A two-day break
Two days is plenty of time to fit in all of the region’s best sights. Take a stroll around the beautiful city of Lille and enjoy the many museums on offer, such as the Fine Arts Museum. Stay in the Premiere Classe Lille Centre Hotel, close to all the best attractions. On day two, visit Dunkerque, home of the famous battle of Dunkirk, and discover the port by boat or play a round of golf.
A week-long stay
A week in Nord-Pas-de-Calais can be filled with a variety of activities and attractions. Stay in the Premiere Classe Boulogne Hotel to enjoy the coastal delights of the region. Shop in the quaint shops along the cobbled streets and relax in one of the city’s many restaurants to enjoy fresh seafood. Also be sure to visit Calais and explore its famous town hall and lighthouse.
A family holiday
Nord-Pas-de-Calais may be steeped in culture and history, but there is still plenty of fun to be had for families. Take children to the Citadelle Park and zoo in Lille to see remarkable trees and around 400 animals. And, best of all, the zoo is completely free. Then, take the whole family to one of the region’s many beaches to indulge in a spot of sunbathing and paddling.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais is extremely easy to access from London, using the Eurostar. In just under two hours you could be in Lille. In addition to this, access by car is simple using the Eurotunnel or taking advantage of great value ferries. Once in the region, use the tram to get around efficiently.
If you are staying in the Premiere Classe Boulogne Hotel, you can take advantage of the many restaurants offering fresh seafood. In Lille try Novotel Café for a mix of traditional and inventive French cuisine, or Crêperie Beaurepaire for lunch or dinner crêpes.
Dunkerque hosts a carnival from January through to the end of March each year. Hundreds of people take to the streets in costumes to enjoy music and festivities and a ball is held on weekends. Children will enjoy the colourful display of thousands of kites at the kite festival in Berck-sur-Mer.
While Nord-Pas-de-Calais is predominantly French-speaking, it also has two significant minority languages. One is French Flemish, spoken by the western Flemings, whose presence is felt in the large number of Dutch place-names. The other is the Picard language, spoken by the Picards, who are trying to revive the nearly extinct language.