Le Quesnoy – in the heart of the Parc Naturel de l’Avesnois – has been known as the “town covered in oak” since the Middle Ages. Le Quesnoy is not far from the forest of Mormal, where oak trees reign supreme, but there’s more to the town than beautiful trees. What make this site so special are the wonderfully conserved ramparts. During a walk along the fortifications you’ll see first hand the art of defence employed between the 17th century and beginning of the 20th century. It was in Le Quesnoy that the ingenious Vauban experimented with his system of hydraulic defences, using locks and dams to allow controlled flooding of dykes in order to block the route of invaders. Today, Vauban’s work lives on. Take the family for a day out at the local educational farm or visit the bird observatory and reed beds. Alternatively, take in some fresh air as you walk the mile or so (2.5km) around Le chemin sur l’eau lake path. For a real treat, visit at the beginning of August during the carnival parade of Bimberlot to see the giants Pierrot Bimberlot and Maori join the locals in a procession along the ramparts. Come and see the fortified towns of Hauts-de-France reborn!