“The entire history of France seems to be concentrated here (in the north),” esteemed French historian Jules Michelet said. A look at the DNA of Hauts-de-France reveals that part of the French soul was forged in this region. Even the French language was officially recognised here – in the town of Villers-Cotterets – in 1539. From Charlemagne to De Gaulle, the people of this region march in the footsteps of famous historical figures who embodied the values of the land – values and ideals that still inspire locals and visitors alike today. It’s a region rich in skills and know-how that have been passed down over generations. Hauts-de-France has a fascinating and timeless story to tell.
Be inspired by human stories
They were miners, glass blowers and experts at weaving lace or fashioning mother-of-pearl. They had unique ideas that gave rise to a communal social housing project that provided shelter for the workforce and allowed talent to flourish. They were called Godin, La Fontaine, De Gaulle, Jules Verne. They shaped not only the story of Hauts-de-France, but also its spirit and its values.
Follow this guide to learn more about 5 themes that capture the essence of this land.
Understand how French history was forged here
From Senlis, the “city of kings”, and “Imperial” Compiègne to the Industrial Revolution of the 20th century, there are many chapters of French history to be discovered here. It’s a history that is retold in chateaux and palaces, and in Gothic cathedrals built by celebrated artisans and masons. You can find it in belfries – towers that are local symbols of freedom – and in the region’s surprising Art Deco and Flemish architecture. Be taken in by a turbulent past and traditional celebrations that combine to showcase the best of the north of France.