Nord Pas De Calais
Nord Pas de Calais is a region much appreciated by the Brits and other northern Europeans for its excellent beaches, its history, its cuisine and of course shopping. Le Pays des 7 Vallees is a tourist area within this region having the old market town of Hesdin at its heart. Situated at the confluence of the rivers Canche and Ternoise, Hesdin has an impressive central ‘Grande Place’ dominated by the 16th century town hall.
Vieil Hesdin, as its name implies, was the site of the old Hesdin before it was sacked by the Spanish in 1553. Hesdin was rebuilt at its present site, but today Vieil Hesdin remains a pretty, peaceful village situated on the banks of the river Canche, just a short drive from Hesdin. There is an ancient convent not far from the house and most of the village (including our house) is in a conservation area. Plenty of quiet roads and tracks for cycling or walking along the river or in the nearby woods
The town of Hesdin has a range of boutiques, restaurants and historic buildings, and its status as a 3 star ‘ville fleuri’ (flowered town) make it a town pleasant to visit on any day. Market day is Thursday and must not be missed as the streets are filled with such a varied collection of traditional foods and local produce and this is the perfect way to experience true french village life. For more of the day to day necessities there is a well stocked Carrefour supermarket and a Lidl store nearby.
North of Hesdin is the ‘Foret d’Hesdin’ extending to over 1000 hectares. 15 km of forest roads and 5 km of one of the national Grande Randonnée footpaths make it ideal for walking, cycling and picnics. This stunning area is ideal on very hot days as the canopies provide a cool retreat for visitors.
Things To Do
There is so much to do that it is only possible to give a brief summary.
Agincourt with its new visitors centre is about 12 km away, and the battlefields of the Somme are within easy reach, as is La Coupole, constructed in 1943 and now a history centre with presentations on the occupation of Northern France.
Berck Plage is about half an hour’s drive as are the quieter resorts of Merlimont and Stella-Plage. Le Touquet is a little further. There are all the usual seaside activities on offer – windsurfing, sailing, fishing plus kite-flying – a speciality of this region.
There are markets in most main towns, e.g. Fruges (Saturday morning), Hesdin (Thursday morning) and a fish market in Etaples.
Many museums including a ceramic museum at Desvres, an ancient Abbey at Valloires with beautiful gardens and a mining museum
Superb golf courses, horseriding, walking, cycling, an aerial adventure course at Guines, boating on the rivers, kayaking and rafting.
Aquatic and Bowling Center in Hesdin – about 10 minutes drive from the house – comprising an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, water shutes and slides, a cafe and bowling alleys. Situated on the southern side of Hesdin there is plenty of easy parking.
More information at http://www.abc-lhesdinois.fr/
Theme Parks & Centres:
Bagatelle at Merlimont with 44 family attractions; Nausicaa, a sealife centre at Boulogne, one of the best in Europe; Aqualud at Le Touquet – a water theme park with a ‘Magic River’
Towns & Cities:
Amiens with its beautiful cathedral, miraculously spared in the 1940 bombing; Arras with its impressive ‘Places des Heros’ with buildings dating from the 11th century; St. Omer with its cathedral and Musee Sandelin; Montreuil-sur-Mer, just 20 minutes away, where you can walk the town walls and visit the Citadel; and more….
This is a region of excellent restaurants from the well known 3 star Chateau de Montreuil to the excellent “fermes auberges” of the region with all kinds of town and country restaurants in between. Being close to the sea, you can eat excellent fish and shellfish. Several restaurants within a short drive of the house.
Shopping, wine and local produce:
Wine is not produced in this area, but there are many places to buy excellent wine, from the supermarkets to the specialist wine stores of Calais. You will also find smaller specialist wine merchants in most towns including Les Caves des Vieux Chais in Fressin, just north of Hesdin.
The hypermarkets, created out of the English cross-Channel shopping movement, include Cite Europe and the complex at Coquelles in Calais. But better, and sometimes cheaper, can often be had further away from Calais, and there are two good supermarkets in Hesdin, not far from the house – Carrefour Market and Intermarche.
You can also buy foie gras near Hesdin, and local cheese, fruit and veg at the markets.