France Regions


Welcome to France’s Northernmost Region

The Hauts-de-France region is located in the northern part of France, and is made up of five departments: Aisne, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, and Somme. This region offers visitors a mix of stunning natural scenery, rich history, and vibrant culture.

The Hauts-de-France region was officially formed in January 2016, following the territorial reform of France. It was created by merging the former regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy.

One of the main attractions of the Hauts-de-France region is its historic landmarks and monuments. The region is home to several important World War I sites, such as the battlefields of the Somme and the Thiepval Memorial. Other notable landmarks in the region include the Gothic-style Basilica of Saint-Quentin, the Château de Chantilly with its famous art collection, and the famous Vimy Memorial.

Chateau de Chantilly in the Hauts-de-France region.
Chateau de Chantilly in the Hauts-de-France region.

The Hauts-de-France region is also known for its beautiful countryside and natural landscapes. Visitors can explore the rolling hills and lush forests of the Ardennes, or take a stroll along the sandy beaches of the Opal Coast. The region is also home to several national parks, including the Avesnois Regional Nature Park and the Caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Nature Park.

Culture and cuisine are also important aspects of the Hauts-de-France region. The region is home to several famous cheeses, such as Maroilles and Boulette d’Avesnes, as well as delicious local dishes, such as carbonnade flamande (a beef stew) and tarte au sucre (a type of sugar pie). Visitors can also explore the region’s vibrant cultural scene, which includes several annual festivals and events, such as the Lille Flea Market and the Amiens Jazz Festival.

The Hauts-de-France region is easily accessible by train or car, and there are several airports in the region with direct flights from major cities in Europe. Visitors can also take a ferry from the UK to the port city of Calais.

The Hauts-de-France region’s historic landmarks, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant culture make it a popular choice for tourists from around the world. Whether you’re looking to explore the region’s rich history, enjoy its beautiful countryside, or sample its delicious local cuisine, the Hauts-de-France region has something for everyone.

A map of Picardy in the Hauts-de-France region.
A map of Picardy in the Hauts-de-France region.

Lille – An underrated gem in Hauts-de-France and France’s 4th biggest city.

Located in northern France on the river Deule, the city of Lille was founded in the Middle Ages, with a charter dating back to 1066. Lille is the prefecture of the Hauts-de-France region.

The County of Flanders, which first appeared in written documents in the 9th century, was formed after the Treaties of Verdun (843). Lille became one of its capitals and a center of commerce.

The main square in Lille, France capital of the Hauts-de-France region.
The main square in Lille, France capital of the Hauts-de-France region.

The tragic death of Charles the Reckless (the last Duke of Burgundy) in 1477 put a sudden end to the splendors of the court at Lille. Years later, Louis XIV had to use all his power and determination to annex the city to France once and for all in 1667, during the war of devolution.

During the French Revolution, the city was besieged by the Austrians (1792) who were on their way to Paris to free the king. The Austrians did not succeed in their task and Louis XVI was executed in Paris on January 21st, 1793.

In the 19th century, the city became a major industrial capital; the city expanded rapidly and annexed five nearby towns. During this time the city grew to 120,000 inhabitants.

Being so close to Belgium, Lille endured heavy bombardment during WWI and WWII.

Today, with over 220,000 inhabitants, the city is part of an urban community of 87 towns, with more than 1.5 million people. The city earned a 2004 nomination as a “European Capital of Culture” by the EC.

Despite early Protestant revolts from pro-Calvinists, the city has retained its cathedral. Other sites include the botanical garden and probably the world’s biggest flea market, the first weekend in September, drawing traders from all over Europe.

The Eurostar stops in Lille which means easy access to London, Brussels and Paris.

Lille – Places to See

  • A Walk in the old town between Palais Rihour and llot Comtesse.
  • Charles De Gaulle’s birthplace
  • Sunday market at Wazemmes

For further reading we recommend: Welcome to Lille, France’s most underrated city

The City of Amiens in Hauts-de-France

Amiens, north of Paris and west of Lille, is a town of about 130,000, with a long and varied history, dating, like many French towns, to before the Romans arrived. Its useful location in the Somme basin made it a battleground of note not only in World War I and II, but right back to the Norman era, and before, that, caught the strategic interest of various barbarian tribes.

Traditional homes in Amiens, France.
Traditional homes in Amiens, France.

Surprisingly, Amiens features the tallest Gothic cathedral in France, topping even Notre Dame in Paris. As for industry, textile manufacturing in the 17th and 18th centuries (notably velour) was a mainstay, but wholesale fighting and bombardment during the two World Wars put the town into a long decline until the 1990’s, when a new university campus and a revitalization of the town center brought much-needed energy and investment.

A visit to the city would not be complete without a sampling of the local almond biscuits, savory puff pastries and duck pate. One of the odder historical notes about Amiens is the identity of a long-serving city council member in the early 20th century: none other than famed author Jules Verne, who married a local girl.

Visit the Hauts-de-France official tourism website for further information.