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18 Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Northern France

18 Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Northern France

Northern France is a stunning region often overlooked as a destination in its own right. Travellers head for Central Paris, the Eastern Alsace wine route or the postcard-pretty Southern areas of the Dordogne, Provence and the French Riviera without realising that Northern France has many hidden depths to discover.

Rennes restaurants offer a cornucopia of regional and national dishes for food lovers. Bayeux is a great base to explore the region’s rich war history, and Le Touquet, with its promenade and never-ending sandy beach, rivals any in the South of France.

Add to that the string of picturesque towns and villages, from Honfleur’s colourful harbour to Metz’s medieval charms, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from falling in love with this beautiful northern region of France.

I have asked fellow travellers what they loved best about Northern France. With their contributions, I have put together a guide to the most beautiful towns and villages to inspire you to visit Northern France in the future.

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When to go

Spring or Autumn are good times to visit Northern France; fewer tourists and pleasant temperatures.

The roads in summer can be busy with tourists using the region to travel through to other locations in France.

Winter can be cold and gloomy, and, much like Britain, the weather can be unpredictable, so pack sweaters and rain macs alongside t-shirts and shorts.

How to get to France

From the United Kingdom

Eurostar runs seven trains a day from London St Pancras to Lille. Routes also run from London St Pancras, Ashford International and Folkestone to Calais. Taking the car? Eurotunnel LeShuttle runs between Folkestone and Dieppe.

P&O Ferries run daily services between Dover and Dunkirk, Calais and Bologne. DFDS Ferries run from Newhaven to Dieppe, and Brittany Ferries run a Portsmouth to Le Havre route and a Poole to Cherbourg route.

Eurostar Train

Within France

French national rail network (SNCF) connects Lille, Boulogne, Dunkirk and Calais with Paris Central. 

A car or motorhome is best for making the most of the northern region.

Visiting from Further Afield

Fly into Paris, pick up a rental car and be in Northern France in 2-3 hours.

The Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Normandy

Barfleur, Lyons-La-Foret and Veules Les Roses make up three of the six prettiest villages in Normandy, according to the Plus Beaux Villages de France Association. The prestigious title is awarded to highly picturesque villages in rural locations with a population under 20,000 and a rich culture.

The other three villages in Normandy that share this title are Beuvron-en-Auge, Le Bec-Hellouin and Saint-Céneri- le-Gérei.

Barfleur

Contributed by Joanna from The World In My Pocket

I chose to visit Barfleur because it shares its name with the ferry I arrived on in France. Living next to the harbour in the UK, the Barfleur ferry is part of the local life. So, when I boarded it to visit Cherbourg, I decided to pop to Barfleur, a beautiful small village an hour away. 

Getting to Barfleur from Cherbourg is easy, with a direct bus. However, it doesn’t run very often, so pay attention to the schedule.

Barfleur is known locally for the mussels harvested here, called “Blonde de Barfleur”. There are a few restaurants in the village, and all have mussels on their seasonal menus.

If you want to eat in Barfleur, I recommend Café de France overlooking the harbour; this is where I had a delicious breakfast. Also, for yummy cakes, go to Fontaine Sylvain patisserie, which is very close to the bus station. 

Walk to Gatteville Lighthouse

Barfleur is a lovely, quiet village with charming stone houses decorated with lavender pots at the windows.

I loved discovering the path starting behind the church and leading to the Gatteville lighthouse – the third tallest lighthouse in the world. Along the way, I stumbled upon stunning secluded beaches and a cute windmill transformed into a home. 

As Barfleur is not a touristic destination, you can still see the local fishermen working on their boats. I arrived early in the village and observed them preparing their boats after returning from the sea with their daily catch. 

A large medallion fixed to a rock in the harbour marks William the Conqueror’s departure from Barfleur to England in 1066 for the Battle of Hastings.

Lyons-La-Foret

Contributed by Kat from Wandering Bird

We’re always a little sceptical about beautiful towns or villages, but Lyons-la-Forêt, situated in the heart of Normandy’s largest forest, does live up to the hype. This charming village near Rouen is worth the effort to reach.

A former residence of the Dukes of Normandy, nowadays it’s more a tourist destination than anything else. Timber-clad buildings surround the square, and there are cafes, antique shops and fountains all over the place, with plenty of beautifully kept flowers, making it look like a set from a fairytale. 

We visited Lyons-La-Foret purely because people said it was pretty, but there are a couple of things to see in the village. The composer Maurice Ravel lived there, and his house (which is beautiful) is worth seeing. The picturesque Church of St Denis and convents, set beside the Lieure river, is also worth visiting. 

Royal Connections

The village was built on a 12th-century castle site, so there is plenty of history connecting it to the historical courts of Paris. The poet from Louis XIV’s court used to live here. 

We ate lunch at the Cafe de la Halle, right on the square and an excellent place for people-watching. If you’re motorhoming in France, like we were, there’s a great campsite on the village’s outskirts, within easy walking distance.

Alternatively, there is a lovely looking hotel in the centre called La Licorne, which looks to have a pool or spa – well deserved on a hot day in Northern France!

Timber Panelled house in Lyons La Foret, Northern France
The house of Maurice Ravel

Veules Les Roses

Contributed by Where Angie Wanders

The pretty town of Veules-Les-Roses in Northern France is undoubtedly worthy of a place in the “Plus Beaux” list of the most beautiful French villages.

From its timbered and thatched roof cottages to its rustic lodges, you will feel like you have stepped into a fairytale setting as you wander around the tiny lanes leading to the village centre.

We loved walking beside the River Veules, the smallest river in France, and seeing the water cress beds growing there.

In spring, the neighbourhood is awash with pretty flowers, and in summer, roses adorn the footpaths beside the river, highlighting where the name of the village originated.

After exploring the village, enjoy lunch at the Hotel Douce France – the pretty courtyard is befitting this fairytale village or perhaps stay the night.

Veules-Les-Roses can be visited on a road trip through Northern France and is a 2-hour drive if arriving from Paris.

Thatched cottage by river in Northern France

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Bayeux

Contributed by Karen from Where I Wandered

Bayeux is a charming town in the Normandy region of France. The town miraculously escaped bombing during WWII and is one of the few towns in Normandy that has remained the same throughout the years.

e found it the perfect place to base our stay to see the D-Day beaches and other WWII sites.

Bayeux is a prosperous and pretty small town with buildings in calming shades of faded greys and weathered mustards. A river runs sedately through the town, and the cobblestoned streets are quiet and serene.

View the Bayeux Tapestry

The town is most well-known for its impressive cathedral, the Cathedral Notre Dame de Bayeux, which dominates its centre.

It is even more famous for its renowned Bayeux tapestry. The tapestry was created to be displayed in the cathedral but now is enshrined in its climate-controlled museum. The tapestry is a must-see while you are visiting Bayeux!

There are also some excellent restaurants in town! La Rapier is one of the top-rated restaurants in Bayeux.

Our bed and breakfast hosts recommended that we make reservations here, and we were so glad that we did, as this ended up being one of our favourite meals in France.

We loved everything about our stay in Bayeux, from the friendly and kind local people to our time exploring the farmer’s market and from wandering the well-lit streets in the evening to sipping a cider on a restaurant patio at lunch.

It is a perfect place to visit in Normandy, with plenty of great places to stay in Bayeux catering for all budgets. A particular favourite among guests is Hotel Reine Mathilde.

Etretat

Contributed by Elisa from Travel France Bucket List

Etretat is a beautiful town on the Alabaster Coast in Normandy, Northern France.

It has beautiful architecture built in Anglo-Norman style, a pebble beach, a sea promenade, and a couple of interesting sites to keep you busy for a day or two.

Most of all, Etretat is world-known for its impressive chalky cliffs. This unique landscape was captured by many Impressionists’ paintings ‘en plein air’.

One such artist is Claude Monet, and it is possible to see the Etretat cliffs in 80 of Monet’s masterworks spread worldwide. 

For this reason, Etretat is a touristy place that sees crowds even in wintertime; however, the landscape is so unique that it is well worth visiting.

At One with Nature in Etretat

The list of interesting things to do in Etretat includes a stroll along the sea promenade to admire the cliffs, a lazy beach day, or a climb up to the little chapel Notre Dame de la Garde to admire the cliffs from another point of view.

However, my favourite place in Etretat is the Etretat Gardens, a mesmerising, neo-futuristic green space combining plants and plant sculptures with contemporary sculptures. 

In Etretat, don’t miss the opportunity of eating fresh fish or shellfish washed down with white wine or cider. It is an excellent place to eat Moules-Frites or Norman crêpes.

The best way to travel to Etretat is by train to Le Havre and then by local bus. Travel from Paris to Etretat is possible by a direct local bus in the summer. Dormy House is a good choice if you want somewhere to stay in Etretat.

Looking for More Beautiful Places to Visit in France? Please Read

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Giverny

Contributed by Where Angie Wanders

Giverny is a beautiful village in Northern France that is home to the sensational house and gardens of Claude Monet.

A trip to Normandy must include visiting the iconic artist’s famous Japanese water-lily gardens, the subject of some of his most well-known paintings.

Monet’s house is a riot of colour, from its pastel pink and green facade to the canary yellow dining room and sky-blue kitchen. But it is his two gardens that draw the crowds, and rightly so.

Monet’s first garden is Clos Normand, densely planted with flowers and plants from Europe and abroad.

This garden has no formality, and roses, honeysuckle and clematis climb the buildings and garden arches, ensuring a visit is quite magical.

The second garden is the Japanese water-lily garden – the inspiration for Monet’s classic paintings. Water lilies, a bamboo forest, weeping willows, and even a green bridge across the lake all contribute to Monet’s Japanese theme.

Giverny is a great place to visit on a day trip from Paris or as part of a road trip around the beautiful towns and villages of Northern France.

Honfleur

Contributed by Veronika from Jigsaw Puzzle Queen

Honfleur is a picturesque medieval port town in the North of Normandy, in the department of Calvados. It’s where the River Seine flows into the English Channel.

I only spent a day in Honfleur, as we visited it on a road trip through Brittany and Normandy. I would highly recommend anyone stop in this picturesque town, and should you want to stay overnight; a good choice would be Hotel Le Dauphin Les Loges.

Honfleur’s prominent landmarks are tall, narrow houses with slate-tiled roofs that line the harbour. They originate from the 17th-18th centuries – the time of the most significant development of the city.

It’s lovely to stroll along the quay and admire the buildings’ architecture and see their reflection in the water or stop at one of the many delicious seafront restaurants.

I also found the unique wooden church from the end of the 15th century fascinating. It’s called Église Ste-Catherine, and you can walk inside to admire the structure.

French Impressionism in Honfleur

Honfleur became popular among French artists of the 19th century, including the famous poet Charles Baudelaire and it is believed that Honfleur is where French Impressionism began.

You can see some fantastic artwork by French impressionists at the local museum Musée Eugène Boudin. Book a tour of Honfleur with a local tour guide to explore its charms.

In Northern France, you must try the local crêpe – the savoury version is made with buckwheat flour. One of the best crêpe bistros in Honfleur is Bistrot à crêpes, but you can pop into any Crêperie.

Since you’re right by the sea, you must have some oysters too!

We found a cute oyster bar on top of a boat with only a few seats and the owner running around barefoot. Look for a boat with the sign “Bar à Huîtres”; the oysters are fresh daily and taste delicious.

Vernon

Contributed by Catherine from Her Bags Were Packed

After a traumatic couple of months, I was planning a work trip to France and grieving my father’s death. I knew I’d need to centre myself and recover from jet lag before being “professional,” so I didn’t want a list of attractions to distract and exhaust me. Craving rest, I googled “small towns in France” and stumbled upon Vernon in Normandy.

Arriving in Vernon by train, I was greeted by my Airbnb host, Evelyn. The French often get a bad rap for being rude and unfriendly, but Evelyn completely undid those stereotypes. My visit would not have been what it was without her incredible hospitality.

Vernon was the perfect destination for my “do-nothing” week because I could effortlessly take in the sights.

Two of the town’s most well-known landmarks, La Vieux-Moulin, a 16th-century mill, and Chateau des Tourelles, built in 1196 and one of the many fairytale castles in France, were a five-minute walk from Evelyn’s home.

I picked up my lunch at a delicious bakery, Boulangerie Bosquetup, across the street from both landmarks, and then ate and read my book just steps away from both, soaking in the sun and watching the swans float along the river.

Cycling Around Vernon

Visitors arriving by train need not worry about renting a car – I didn’t.

The town centre is small and walkable. To further explore the 13-square-mile town and its surroundings, rent an electric bike from Givernon Rental Station, across from the train station.

I rode to Monet’s Gardens along the River Seine, checked out Fleur de Seine Creperie, and explored Vernon’s picturesque architecture.

Whether you’re looking for an active few days or some serious R&R, Vernon is the beautiful and charming town in Northern France that you need to visit.

Want To Find Out About France’s Best Seaside Resorts?

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Mont St Michel

Contributed by Where Angie Wanders

No visit to Northern France would be complete without visiting the iconic French landmark, Mont St Michel, situated on the Normandy/Brittany borders.

The fairytale medieval abbey sits on a tidal island and is immortalised in paintings and photographs. It is home to approximately 40 inhabitants, mainly nuns and monks, and it was one of Europe’s major pilgrimage sites for centuries. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If the tide is out, reaching the abbey across the seabed is possible.

Make sure that you check daily tides before setting off, as you might find you can get there but are cut off for your return visit! It looks almost identical to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, so British visitors may feel they have seen it before!

We travelled to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris by train in 1 hr 30 mins.

The train stops in Rennes, and you can take a direct shuttle coach bus to Mont Saint Michel. If you are holidaying on the Brittany coast, it will take one hour by road from Saint-Malo.

Mont-St-Michel-Northern-France
Why Not Also Check Out 11 Most Beautiful Towns in Eastern France

The Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Brittany

Carnac

Contributed by Breanne from Family Camping Europe

I was dubious when my husband first suggested Carnac in Brittany as our main summer holiday destination. Brittany? But isn’t it cold and miserable there? I’m pleased to say I couldn’t be more wrong. Staying at the beginning of September, we arrived in blistering heat and bright sunshine at our campsite. 

But it wasn’t just the weather that surprised us in this idyllic place. The campsite we stayed on, Camping Des Menhirs, was within easy walking distance of the fantastic sandy beach and the bustling town centre.

Like most seaside towns, Carnac is full of seafood restaurants, ice-cream parlours and striped t-shirt shops. Yet, something about it seemed way more upmarket than the many other French seaside towns we’ve visited. Perhaps it was the clean streets or the well-cared-for shop fronts?

We tried around seven restaurants in the town during our ten-day holiday, and whilst they were all good, our favourite was Le Cavok. The food was delicious, and they even gave us little blankets to put over ourselves when it got a little chilly in the evening.

Carnac’s Famous Stones

In addition to the stunning beach and charming town, Carnac is steeped in history. Perhaps the most famous thing about Carnac is its Neolithic standing stones, also known as Menhirs. The stones, erected between around 4500 BC and 2000 BC, bring tourists from around the globe.

Of course, we had to go and see them. We decided the best way to view them would be via the little Carnac tourist train.

I love tourist trains because they take you to where you want to go and give you a running commentary, too, so it’s a fantastic way to learn Carnac’s history. 

Overall, our stay in Carnac was incredible, and I believe it is one of the most charming towns in northern France. We loved it so much that we’ve decided to make it an annual holiday destination.

Locronan

Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery

Locronan is one of the most beautiful towns in Northern France and appears frozen in time. You can find it in Brittany, in the département of Finistère, Châteaulin arrondissement.

Since the centre of Locronan’s development in the 16th to 18th centuries, no visible new construction has occurred there. The Locronan authorities have done the maximum to preserve that status, even hiding underground city cables! It’s no wonder that Locronan has become a popular site for filmmakers.

Locronan is also titled “the flower town” as there are flowers everywhere – on window sills and in flower pots scattered all around.

Historical Sights in Locronan

The majestic structure of the Church of Saint Ronan, built in the 15th century, dominates Locronan’s main square. Its distinct decorative elements are a prime example of the so-called Flamboyant Gothic style.

As is the case with most significant churches in the region, there’s a notable calvary, a depiction of Christ’s crucifixion, present on the church grounds and a cemetery.

Locronan is popular among both foreign travellers and locals. It shows by the number of shops selling traditional Breton biscuits and souvenirs. Many a tourist’s sweet tooth can be satisfied in one of the numerous chocolate shops or crêperies. 

We visited Locronan on a road trip through Brittany and Normandy after hiking on Brittany’s coast.

It was lovely to grab a cup of coffee in a typical local bar called “Ostaliri Ti Jos” and watch the buzz of the day. 

Latitude Ouest Hotel and Restaurant is a good choice if you are looking for overnight accommodation.

Rennes

Contributed by Faith from XYUandBeyond

Rennes was a must-visit town for me when I travelled to Northern France. Known as a city of heritage and art, its historic centre has preserved its classical and medieval heritage with over 90 protected buildings, and I wanted to wander the ancient streets and see all those glorious coloured half-timbered houses for myself.

Rennes’ medieval centre around the Place Ste-Anne has around 286 incredible coloured half-timbered buildings. In 1720, a fire burnt down most of the city, but this area of cobbled streets and crooked houses was virtually untouched. 

You can visit the incredible Couvent des Jacobins (a former Dominican friary) or hang out in the square and people-watch.

A must-do is a visit to the Place des Lices where knights used to joust and which is now the location of one of France’s largest markets. Nearby you will find the remains of the Porte Mordelaise, the 15th-century gate into the central city.

A Creative and Culinary Hotspot

Rennes is famous for being one of France’s most lively cities, and every month, there is a festival celebrating something. Due to its large student population, Rennes has music and art events ranging from electronic music and Jazz to contemporary art and design. 

Rennes is where you come to if you are a food lover.

With its international reputation for a fantastic food scene, some must-eats include the Breton Galette, a savoury buckwheat pancake often stuffed with tartiflette, a type of scalloped potato, crêpes, the sweet version of the galette and, of course, washed down with the famous Breton Cidre.

Many of the restaurants around Place Ste-Anne square specialise in Breton dishes, and at the Creperie Sainte Anne, I enjoyed a galette stuffed with tartiflette – heaven on a plate.

Saint-Pabu

Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel

Saint-Pabu is a beautiful little coastal town located around 30 minutes from Brest. With only 2000 inhabitants, this is by no means a busy place and the perfect spot to escape the tourist crowds.

Most people come to Saint-Pabu for kite surfing or a camping vacation. La Clé des Champs is an insider tip for those looking for high-quality accommodation at affordable prices.

What makes Saint-Pabu so unique is its incredible beach. The water here looks more like that in the Maldives or a Caribbean island, and if you’re not yet convinced if Northern France should be your next destination for a beach vacation, then this seascape will persuade you to go.

You’ll love the white-sand beach and the shallow waters, which are perfect for families or couples. Saint Pabu is not the place to go for nightlife, but if you appreciate peace and quiet and an experience close to nature, you’ll love it here.

Beach Activities in Saint-Pabu

Explore the dunes, go kayaking or paddleboarding and enjoy the incredible French coastline. Saint-Pabu is small and hasn’t been overrun by tourists yet, so life here is still very similar to what it was fifty years ago.

The town used to be a fishing village and has transformed into a beautiful place to relax and unwind.

For a truly authentic French experience, stop by the Ruzven restaurant and pub. Located right by the main beach with fantastic views, this little rustic restaurant is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culture and try some of the best snacks and foods from Brittany.

Don’t forget that if you are a UK resident and holidaying in France, you can now shop Tax-Free!

The Most Beautiful Towns and Villages in Hautes de France

Chantilly

Contributed by Elisa from World in Paris

Chantilly is a good option if you want a picturesque town to visit in Northern France. It is located 45 km north of Paris, in the region of Hauts de France.

Because of its excellent train connections with the French capital and its various tourist attractions, Chantilly is considered one of the easiest and best day trips from Paris.

Chantilly is home to the Château de Chantilly, a fairytale castle with magnificent rooms and halls to explore. I especially like the château’s artwork collection (the second most important in France, only after the Louvre Museum) and the beautiful library and lecture room.

The château is surrounded by magnificent French-style gardens designed by André Le Notre, and when I visit Chantilly, I always like to have a picnic in the gardens. However, the restaurant inside the castle always has good ratings for a more relaxed lunch. 

Chantilly Horse Riding

The Great Stables are also fascinating to visit. Louis-Henri de Bourbon commissioned this spectacular building for his 200 horses and 500 hounds, and it is as magnificent and impressive as the château.

Today the Great Stables hosts one of the world’s most prestigious horse training centres and the Chantilly Horse Museum, with a daily horse performance (in the morning) under the building’s central dome. 

Chantilly is world-known for its Chantilly Racecourse, founded in 1834, which hosts today two of the most prestigious France Galop races: the Prix du Jockey-Club and the Prix de Diane Longines.

During my visits to Chantilly, I have never seen any of these races, but the racecourse is spectacular even when empty.

Hardelot

Contributed by Nichola from Family Hotel Expert

Hardelot is the perfect northern French town – full of charm and with the most beautiful beach.

Situated just 8 miles south of Boulogne, it is a peaceful getaway with everything you need for a great stay here. We visited with kids, and it is the perfect destination for family holidays in northern France

We decided on Hardelot as our base for a trip exploring the Opal Coast, which looked idyllic with a vast stretch of sandy beach and quaint little town.

Staying in the Hotel du Parc, which was packed full of leisure facilities, was a great retreat at the end of long days out sightseeing.

The town has some great history – an Englishman, John Robinson Whitley, bought a castle and some land here and wanted to develop the area as a leisure resort. King George V even visited. Extensively bombed during the Second World War after the Nazis took over the town, today it has been rebuilt and has a natural seaside feel.

We loved the ice-cream-coloured beach huts that line the promenade, and it felt much less crowded than many usual French seaside resorts. It is the spot to try out outdoor pursuits; windsurfing is particularly prominent here, along with golf and tennis.

There are plenty of patisseries to pick up pastries and little restaurants dotted about the town. The real reason to come here is the outstanding beach that feels like a breath of fresh air. We loved our time here and can’t wait to return.

Le Touquet

Contributed by Where Angie Wanders

Le Touquet is a seaside resort in Northern France that I have visited with friends and family on many occasions.

Referred to as “Jardin de la Manche“, Garden of the English Channel, it is just south of BoulogneThe white sandy beach is enormous and continues further than the eye can see, meaning you always have plenty of space to yourself.

Grassy dunes with walking routes line the beach should you fancy stretching your legs to explore the shoreline.

But Le Touquet is so much more than just a French beach destination. Its town has restaurants and bars galore, serving regional and international dishes. Cute bars serve cold beers and are a place to people-watch.

Rue Saint-Jean is the central place to find shops, including fashion boutiques, trendy artisan stores, tempting bakeries, and mouth-watering chocolatiers, not forgetting Kokoa – Le Touquet’s best artisan ice-cream store. Be aware that parking in town is terrible, so you may need to find a space on the outskirts and walk into town.

While much of Le Touquet was rebuilt in the ’60s, you can still see several unique preserved villas from the 1920s when Le Touquet was the place to be seen by the Paris jet set.

Outdoor Activities in Le Touquet

Golfers will be impressed by Le Touquet’s golf course and its luxurious Le Manoir Hotel, while wind-surfers and kite-surfers will enjoy taking to the waters.

Horse riders will find several riding schools in the area, and children and adults alike will love Le Petit Train, which takes you around town. Further out of town Le Touquet has a beautiful pine forest with an expanse of walking and cycling lanes.

A nice place to stay in Le Touquet is Hotel Gaspard, a 2-star hotel with 4-star reviews located opposite the beach.

Saint Valery-sur-Somme

Contributed by Suzanne from The Travel Bunny

Saint Valery-sur-Somme is an utterly charming medieval town in northern France. Just 75 minutes by car from Calais, the town is on the coast, near the mouth of the River Somme.

The town has a pretty outlook over the Baie de la Somme, with colourful fishing and sailing boats moored in the harbour. We spent a day exploring the town’s medieval alleyways, ramparts, riverside walks and colourful boutiques and restaurants.  

William the Conqueror assembled his fleet at Saint Valery-sur-Somme before sailing to England’s south coast and defeating King Harold at the historic battle in 1066. Saint Valery-sur-Somme is twinned with Battle in East Sussex, the site of the Battle of Hastings. As we live nearby, we were keen to see the twinned town. 

There’s a rich history in Saint Valery-sur-Somme. Joan of Arc was imprisoned here the night before being taken to Rouen and burned at the stake. The ruins of her cell, the ancient town walls, ramparts and towers can still be seen.

Explore the Old Sailor’s Quarter

My favourite thing was to wander through the old sailors’ quarter, the ‘Courtgain‘ (which means small salary). The cobbled alleyways lined with fishermen’s cottages adorned with colourful flowers and half-timbered buildings are incredibly quaint.  

I’d also recommend a stroll along the harbourside, lined with brasseries, cafes and bars. Check out the impressive villas – Victor Hugo, Jules Verne and Dégas once lived in the town.  

The food market is on Wednesdays and Saturdays, where you’ll pick up some excellent local produce. Try a local favourite like Ficelle Picarde, a delicious crêpe dish made with ham, mushrooms and cream. Seafood is abundant with mussels grown on wooden poles in the sea.

You’ll find freshly caught fish on the menu at family-run restaurant Le Mathurin where the day’s catch dictates the dish du jour.  

The Most Beautiful Town in Lorraine

Metz

Contributed by Tegan from Why Not Walk Travel Guides

Metz is tucked away in northeastern France’s Lorraine region, a delightful town sometimes known as “the Bride of France.” We visited Metz as part of a road trip from Paris through the Loire Valley to Strasbourg, and Metz was a definite highlight of the trip.

Perhaps best known for its Gothic cathedral, Metz is full of historical places to explore. From the Gare de Metz-Ville, built for transporting Kaiser Wilhelm II’s soldiers during World War I, to the historic Place Saint-Louis, which features architecture dating back to the 14th century.

The Porte des Allemands towers date back to medieval times and is open to the public, and the Église Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, the oldest church in France (dating back to 390 CE!)

Beautiful Views from Temple Neuf

You can’t miss strolling along the river, admiring the charming architecture along its banks, and visiting the Esplanade park.

Don’t miss the view of the picturesque Temple Neuf, located on the small Île du Petit-Saulcy in the middle of the river.

Metz is an eminently walkable city with green spaces, walking paths, and narrow cobblestoned streets galore.

Maybe you prefer to bike, and if so, Metz has reinvented itself recently as a major biking hub, which we enjoyed while there.

If you want to spend longer than one day in Metz, La Citadelle Metz MGallery is an up-market hotel in the heart of the city.

Be sure to grab a bite to eat at the Covered Market between Tuesday and Saturday.

You will find a splendid variety of stalls selling bread, cheese, charcuterie, and other local delicacies.

Check out the small cafes and eateries serving Lorraine’s regional specialities and international options like pizza or sandwiches. Metz is also a great place to try Quiche Lorraine, the region’s best-known dish. 

Want to continue this road trip from Metz? Check Out the 11 Most Beautiful Towns in Eastern France to Visit on a Road Trip

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Faith Coates

Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Love this and since I am currently in N. France under curfew (sigh) I am hanging onto this post so I can visit all these lovely places. I had no idea there were so many, but I should have known as every time I do manage to get out the beauty of N. France is just jaw dropping. I think I'm going to have a very busy spring and summer.

WhereAngieWanders

Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

I am glad you found the post useful. There are certainly a few more places I need to check out in the future. The beach at St Pabu for one!