In the Middle Ages, the Nord département (the sliver of France along the Belgian border), together with much of Belgium and part of the Netherlands, belonged to a feudal principality known as Flanders (Flandre or Flandres in French, Vlaanderen in Dutch). French Flanders takes in the areas of French Westhoek (around Dunkirk) and Walloon Flanders (around Lille).

Today, many people in the French Westhoek area still speak French Flemish (French Flemish: Fransch vlaemsch; French: flamand français; Dutch: Frans-Vlaams), a regional language that closely resembles West Flemish, though it differs to standard Dutch, which was based on northern Netherlands dialects. In Walloon Flanders, the traditional language is picard, also known as ch'ti, chtimi or rouchi.

The area south of the Somme estuary and Albert, Picardy (Picardie), historically centred on the Somme département, which saw some of the bloodiest fighting of WWI. The popular British WWI love song 'Roses of Picardy' was penned here in 1916 by Frederick E Weatherley.

In 2016, the former régions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardie merged, becoming the région of Hauts-de-France.