Northern France is known (somewhat unfairly) for its terrible weather, for being a poor region, for the people’s bad French accent.
So why would you go to the North when you can live in Paris or in some southern cities with the sun?
In fact, the North has lots to offer. Here are 7 reasons why it might be a great choice for you – for an au pair stay or for a lovely visit.
1. Life is cheap and people have a good heart
This region will save you a lot of money.
The North is way less expensive than Paris or some southern tourist cities. Even in its big cities it stays affordable.
The North is known for being welcoming and kind and also for its warm hospitality (even if the temperatures are sometimes cooler).
2. There are beautiful cities – like Lille or Arras
If you want to visit big cities, Lille and Arras are just what you need.
But if you are a nature lover, there are also some smaller cities and villages that are incredible. Like Braydunes or Zuydcoote for the beaches and the sand dunes, Saint-Omer for the marshes, the Côte d’Opale’s cliffs from where you can catch sight of the English coast.
So many uncrowded places where you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of the North.
3. We’ve got something Paris doesn’t have: the sea
It may be surprising but in the North you can relax on the beach in the summer, just like in the South but without so many tourists getting in the way.
The best place might be the Côte d’Opale with the Touquet for example, where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt came for holidays or even the Belgium coast with Bray-Dunes or La Panne.
4. Crossroads of Europe
The North is really close to so many countries and big cities of Europe.
To give you an idea: You have a one-hour train trip to reach Paris, two hours with the Eurostar to London, 30 minutes for Brussels and just three hours by car to go to Amsterdam.
Pretty interesting, don't you think?
5. Big events
We’ve got some great festivals such as the Main Square Festival in Arras which is a very famous music festival with worldwide artists.
The North has its own Rio-style Carnival – the Dunkirk Carnival. Of course it’s not quite the same but it’s still very lively!
In France, there is a strong culture of food, and in the North you can find delicious regional food which is in fact not so different from the Belgian food.
Here are some examples of what you need to try:
Let’s begin with something simple, but very tasty – French fries! You can get these with all dishes at the local pub or at the legendary French fry stand or "Friterie" as we say in France. Here in the North we have the best fries in the country. And in the Friterie there is also a speciality called "Fricandelle", it’s meat but we don’t really know what’s inside. Just give it a try and enjoy! Then, the "Carbonnade Flamande" which is meat cooked with beer. If you like cheese, take a "Welsh", a typical northern dish made with cheddar, beer, bread, mustard and sometimes an egg. And you can't be in the North and not eat the famous "Moules-Frites" (Mussels) – even better when you have it at the beach!
For dessert if you are a sugar person, we have got sugar pie, palets de dames, speculoos, the Meert’s waffle, the Bêtises de Cambrai and of course the mythical Merveilleux de Fred (there is always a long queue but it is totally worth it!). And if you are more a cheese fan, you can try our famous smelly cheese, the Maroilles.
And to go with all these meals, beer! Beer in Northern France plays an important role because of the Belgian culture that this region shares. Beers that you need to test, if you are a beer lover, should be: Leffe, Chouffe, Cuvée des trolls, 3 monts, Goudale or the Tripel Karmeliet.
7. Lots of things to do
There are so many cultural things. For example, in Arras there is the beautiful northern architecture. You can visit the Musée des beaux-arts, the Place des Héros or the Belfry.
If you want to do some activities with kids, there are some theme parks such as Bellewaerde and Walibi in Belgium, or even Disney Land or the Parc Astérix. And all in the same area.
I hope this article has made you want to come to the North and to discover this wonderful place. If you have some other ideas or if you have been an au pair in this region and you want to share this experience, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to share them with the AuPairWorld community!