Hauts-de-France (Upper France) is one of the country's least heralded regions, but with dramatic land and sea views, deeply rooted culture, culinary traditions that include freshly caught seafood, age-old Flemish recipes and locally brewed beers, it competes with the best France has to offer.
This fascinating area comprises the former régions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie, taking in the home territories of the Ch'tis (residents of France's northern tip) and the Picards. Its capital, Lille, is awash with magnificent architecture, outstanding museums, creative enterprises and an energetic student vibe. Arras, Amiens and Laon captivate with Gothic treasures, and Compiègne preserves the dazzle of Napoléon III's Second Empire.
Beyond the cities, WWI memorials and cemeteries marking the 1914 to 1918 front lines have a heartbreaking beauty. Outdoors enthusiasts will love the wildlife-filled estuaries of the Baie de Somme, and the Côte d'Opale's activity-packed resorts, including fabled Le Touquet, and wide, often-empty beaches.