Northern France _ Cayeux-sur-Mer _ Beach Bar © CRT Hauts-de-France _ Nicolas BryantNorthern France, Cayeux-sur-Mer, a crowd hanging out at a beach bar at sunset
©Northern France, Cayeux-sur-Mer, beach bar at sunset |Hauts-de-France Tourisme - Nicolas Bryant

Quirky terraces perfect for rediscovering your joie de vivre

Sitting on a terrace with a drink in hand – on an evening out in the city with friends, while contemplating the horizon over the sea, or simply while kicking back and thinking about nothing at all – is the dream. The following unusual, hidden-away, highly original terraces dotted around Hauts-de-France invite you to do just that, transporting you to other worlds, sociable or calming according to your mood.

Northern France _ Saint-Valery-sur-Somme © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Nicolas BryantNorthern France _ Saint-Valery-sur-Somme © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Nicolas Bryant
©Northern France, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme|Hauts-de-France Tourisme - Nicolas Bryant

01. A British feel and vintage finds

Some terraces can be found in restful rural settings…

It’s tea time in the heart of the Sept Vallées, on the terrace of L’Encas et L’Echoppe in Gouy-Saint-André – a British oasis with vintage finds and upcycled objects bringing to mind a different epoch, the Victorian era. You can even buy some of them.

Meanwhile, out on the terrace, it’s the views of pure, unspoilt nature that hold sway – views you you can enjoy accompanied by the likes of home-made jasmine tea biscuits and mocha cake. But save room for supper too, when dishes might include seafood tart and vegetable cobbler using the freshest ingredients from the fertile Sept Vallées. A treat for the eyes, they blend new flavours evoking faraway places with produce from right at hand.


02. Panoramic views over the Flanders plain



Florent Ladeyn is a longstanding Michelin-fêted star for his work at the Auberge du Vert Mont, where tables come with dazzling views of the lush and undulating Flemish plain stretching out towards Ypres, at the invisible border between France and Belgium.

As well as feasting your eyes, you’ll be indulging your tastebuds with hearty, rural, 100% local food that you won’t come across anywhere but in Flanders and that is unmistakeably of its region, produced by one of its most generous and charismatic chefs.


03. In the pastoral Audomarois marshes

To taste the best of the Marais Audomarois, one of the very few marshlands still to be cultivated in France, take a seat on a waterside terrace – perhaps at Salperwick, where Olivier welcomes you into Au Bon Accueil to dine amidst cows, ducks and boats! This estaminet (country bistro) with its aura of a seaside dance hall serves up characterful regional specialities such as carbonade flamande (a beer and beef stew), Maroilles (cheese) tart and potjevleesch (potted meat). Walk it all off in the marshes with their 800km of canals that you can also discover on a leisurely trip in a bacôve or escute (traditional flat-bottomed boats).


04. At the foot of a fortress

Other terraces come with stunning views over the Vallée de l’Automne, inspiring contemplation.
The terrace of the Donjon de Vez, a restaurant set within the wall of the castle of the same name in the Pays de Valois, is a great place for absorbing French history and culture with its cast of characters including Jeanne d’Arc and Alexandre Dumas. You’ll be impressed by the fortress’s vertiginous height (27m) and its animal-headed gargoyles, and charmed by the views over the Automne valley. A post-prandial stroll to the gardens will take you past an array of surprising modern sculptures and to the castle itself, where the contemporary art collection somehow sits perfectly within the medieval architecture. Open from early July.


05. At the foot of Cap Gris Nez

Facing the sea at the foot of Gris Nez cape, the stage is set: loud and clear, raw, unadulterated nature. It’s hard to find a restaurant most restorative and inspiring than La Sirène in Audinghen.

Whether they’re walking the coastal paths of the Terre des Deux Caps or coming from elsewhere, all visitors are wowed by his exceptional spot – especially at high tide when the water almost reaches up to the bay windows, delighting all ages as they feature on mussels and chips, fish dishes and tasty seafood platters – all super-fresh and local. As you’d expect, it’s a good idea to book ahead…

Bois de Cise

06. Views that will take your breath away

At top of the 80m sheer white-sandstone cliff between Mers-les-Bains and Saint-Valery-sur-Somme in the historic Picardy region, the welcoming terrace of Le Cise hotel-restaurant in Ault invites you to lose yourself in contemplation of a seemingly infinite landscape and a horizon that appears to trace the curve of the Earth. With the wind on your face, let yourself be lullled by the sound of the waves below. Consider booking one of Le Cise’s wellbeing weekends; with its spa with a view, it’s the perfect spot for a getaway as


07. Tranquil lake views

Other terraces are right on the water, to charming effect.
The Parc de l’Ailette in Chamouille in the Aisne includes accommodation inspired by Canadian cottages, complete with terraces with peaceful views over the lake with its beaches and its shaded spots where raw nature takes over. Let the serenity of this setting disconnect you from daily life. Make the moment last with a picnic on the lake shore or a meal at the golf course restaurant to watch the players make this most of this little piece of nature in their own way.

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08. A chic retro atmosphere

Other pretty terraces encapsulate the very soul of their setting…
Even from afar, you can’t miss Le Carillon with its unusual flamboyant red façade. This used to be the Bar des Carillonneurs (named for the bell-ringers of the bell tower of the Hôtel de Ville, who still today treat local inhabitants to their playing) and everything still bespeaks this history firmly rooted in that of the Saint-Quentin area as a whole. Inside, original paintings depict the bell ringers in defiant poses. It’s a popular meeting place for different generations, who appreciate the chic retro ambiance and seasonal oyster plates served in the central conservatory-like rotonde with its feeling of being inside and outside at the same time.


09. Go high and admire the Flemish capital

… Des terrasses urbaines pour un voyage hors du commun.

Venez goûter la cuisine aérienne du chef Maxime Schelstraete dans son nouveau restaurant Nû, ou encore dans son autre rooftop tout aussi spectaculaire uniquement privatisable : celui de la véranda de l’hôtel Mama Shelter tout proche. Vous siroterez votre cocktail à proximité du buffet, en profitant d’une vue à tomber… Sous vos yeux et à vos pieds, près de 1 000 ans d’histoire de Lille, du vieux-Lille médiéval au quartier d’affaires d’Euralille. On a beau chercher, on n’a pas trouvé mieux comme spot pour prendre de la hauteur et admirer la capitale des Flandres un verre à la main !

… And there are city terraces that transport you to a different time and place

Taste the airy cuisine of chef Maxime Schelstraete in his new restaurant Nû or in his other, equally spectacular rooftop venue that can be booked for private occasions, on the terrace of the nearby hotel Mama Shelter, where you can sip a cocktail while taking in the jaw-dropping views. At your feet lie more than 1,000 years of Lille history, from medieval Vieux-Lille to the Euralille business district. Search as hard as you like, you won’t find a better spot to get up high and take in the capital of Flanders with a drink in hand…


10. An imperial town



wo steps from the train station and the town centre, between the Oise river and the vast Compiègne forest (15,000 hectares and many kilometres of forest trails perfect for pre- or post-prandial strolls), Compiègne’s T’Aim hotel is hard to miss. Situated at one end of Pont-Neuf bridge, it has an immaculate white facade shrouded in metallic fishing nets.

From its terrace you can enjoy an unparalleled view over this once-imperial town, the calmly flowing river and surrounding green spaces. It’s a scene that really comes into its own after dark, beneath the twinkling lights of Compiègne. Draw out the moment by ordering some freshly made fare by chef Yves.



11. A water garden

A bonus coup de cœur away from it all in the heart of Amiens’ floating market gardens

Far from the madding crowds yet only two steps from the very heart of the city centre, Ô Jardin restaurant is a true haven of peace with a choice of two settings, each with a very different vibe: a lower terrace close to the water, and a higher one. Whichever you choose, expect a treat for the senses: gardens with rustling foliage and majestic trees, the whisper of the Somme flowing past, birdsong, the scents of nature and the fertile terrain all around, and the sight of barges passing almost within arm’s reach, tempting you to head out on the water after your meal. Your tastebuds will be regaled by good wines, cocktails and dishes. Book ahead to get a much-coveted waterside table.