Encompassing the sandy beaches of Pas-de-Calais, the châteaux of Oise, the floating gardens of the Somme and much more besides, the Hauts-de-France contains many of the most beautiful places in northern France. To help you plan your own adventure in this scenic part of the country, we’ve selected some of the best cities and attractions you can visit on a road trip around Hauts-de-France.
Drive the Côte d’Opale
The 75-mile stretch of sand dunes, white chalk cliffs and fine sandy beaches that make up the Côte d’Opale has to be one of the prettiest French coastlines. Known as the Opal Coast in English, this shoreline travels from the World War 1 site of the allied evacuation – Dunkirk – all the way to the Pas-de-Calais seaside resort of Le Touquet. With everything from history to hiking trails, it’s a firm favourite for British holidaymakers.
Nature at Bay of Somme
Around an hour’s drive from Calais, you’ll enter the Bay of Somme estuary, a stunning nature reserve on the coast of northern France. Here you can spend the night in charming accommodation like the half-timbered Hotel Le Fiacre, giving you the freedom to explore the wildlife at the Parc du Marquenterre bird reserve or jump aboard a Belle Époque steam train to Saint Valery and explore its medieval ramparts.
Floating Gardens in Amiens
As capital of the Somme department and former Picardy prefecture, Amiens is home to the gorgeously grand Amiens Cathedral, a masterpiece of 13th century Gothic architecture and a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. Perhaps the city’s best known attraction is Les Hortillonnages, a set of floating gardens on islands spread throughout the maze of canals. You can actually stay on an eco-friendly cabin within this spectacularly green area, complete with jetties and punts to explore the still water.
Visit the New Regional Capital
The dazzling city of Lille is the largest in the Hauts-de-France region, and rich in Flemish influence. Wander around the picturesque old town, dipping in and out of fascinating museums and galleries like the Museum of Fine Arts of Lille, then set off to find a local restaurant, sweet shop or tea room to sample the local specialties. The port of Calais and your ferry home is only a short drive away from the city.
Explore The Château of Chantilly
Located in the Oise department, this extraordinarily grand Château de Chantilly is one of France’s most prized jewels. The breathtaking gardens were designed by André Le Notre, the visionary landscape designer of Versailles. Once home to the nation’s royalty, you can expect an enchanting interior and a collection of masterpieces accumulated by none other than Henri d’Orléans, the Duke of Aumale and son of the last King of France, Louis-Philippe.
For more road trip inspiration, check out our adventure page.