Visiting Museums and Monuments in Picardy and Nord Pas-de-Calais

Art, archaeology, history, literature - find out about local attractions and how to make the most of the museums using discount tickets and vouchers...

There is a large selection of museums in Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais, with subjects ranging from history, agriculture and banking, to Gallo-Roman life.

Visiting Museums

Museums in France are often closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. Entry fees vary and discounts may be available for pensioners and children.  Free entry is available at some monuments and museums on the first Sunday of each month.

Metropolitan Lille City Pass

The Metropolitan Lille City Pass is a 24, 48 or 72-hour pass good for free public transport in the Lille metropolitan area, free entry to many museums and their temporary exhibitions, and discounts on guided tours and in some shops. The 72-hour card also extends discounts to some attractions outside of Lille in the Nord Pas-de-Calais area, and includes transport on SNCF TER regional trains. The card can be purchased over the telephone, online or from the Lille Tourist Office.

Dunkerque - Le Pass Tourisme

Le Pass Tourisme is a 1, 2 or 3-day pass good for discounts and admission to local tourist sites. Holders of the Pass Tourisme may visit up to four participating attractions or museums and pay reduced admission prices to additional sites in the Dunkerque/Dunes of Flanders area. In addition, the pass is valid for free public transport and includes a coupon for shopping. Adult and junior versions of the pass are available.

Le Pass Tourisme may be purchased at Tourism Offices in Dunkerque, Bray-Dunes, Grande-Synthe, Saint-Pol-sur-Mer, Leffrinckoucke and La Panne.

Museums in Picardy

Aisne

Musée Franco-Américain du Château de Blérencourt (closed for renovation until early 2012)

Constructed in the early 17th century, Château de Blérencourt was purchased in 1917 by American Anne Morgan, to serve as a base from which she ran a charitable organisation to help civilians affected by World War I. Morgan established a health service, a holiday camp for children, a library and a furniture workshop.

The museum, housed in the chateau, was created in 1930. The museum serves to document and commemorate America’s involvement in the World Wars and the subsequent reconstruction of Europe. The gardens at the chateau are also of interest; the New World Garden contains plant species from the United States.

This national museum, as well as paying tribute to those involved in the World Wars, looks at the relationship between France and America during the American War of Independence and its impact on the French Revolution.

Églises Fortifiées de Thiérache

The region of Thiérache spreads into the Nord Pas-de-Calais, other regions in France and into Belgium. Over 60 fortified churches can be found throughout Thiérache, these unusual churches the result of weary villagers from as far back as the 16th century seeking protection within the church walls.

The church at Burelle is of particular interest, with its towers and battlements and an upper level with a hall in which local people could find shelter and refuge during times of war. For information and a map of fortified churches, contact the Vervins Tourism Office.

  • Office de Tourisme de Vervins
    At: Place de l'hôtel de Ville, 02140 Vervins
    Tel: 03 23 98 11 98
    Fax: 03 23 98 02 47

Oise

Clairière de l’Armistice (Clearing of the Armistice)

On 11 November 1918 the Armistice effectively ending World War I was signed in Compiègne Forest. In 1922, the site was made a memorial. Nearly 22 years after the Armistice, on 22 June 1940, France surrendered to Germany in the same location. Afterwards, the memorial was destroyed by the Germans. After the end of World War II, the site was rededicated as a memorial, and today the museum houses weapons, photographs and other exhibits about both World Wars.

  • Clairière de l’Armistice
    At
    : Route de Soissons, 60200 Compiègne
    Tel: 03 44 85 14 18
    Open: Wednesday to Monday

Château de Pierrefonds

Originally built as a castle in the 12th century, this beautiful château was dismantled in the 14th century and remained a ruin until the 19th century. Napoleon III commissioned Viollet-le-Duc to restore it, with the result being the fairy-tale castle built in limestone we see today.

Somme

Citadelle de Doullens

The oldest fort in France, the Citadelle de Doullens was built in the middle ages, and used by the military architect Vauban as the model for his designs for fortifications. Vauban’s model, which was designed in the 15th century and used by Louis XIV, was such a successful design it was still being used in the Napoleonic wars.

Musée de Picardie

The Picardy Museum is one of the largest regional museums in France. Housed in a palace whose construction design was based on the Louvre in Paris, the museum collection is made up of art from prehistoric times to the 19th century. The collection includes works by Impressionists as well as pieces by Picasso and Bacon.

  • Musée de Picardie
    At
    : 48 rue de la République, 80000 Amiens
    Tel: 03 22 97 14 00
    Fax: 03 22 97 14 26
    Open: Tuesday to Sunday
    email

Museums in Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Nord

Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille

This imposing and beautiful 19th century palace in Lille houses one of the largest collections of paintings by the Old Masters in northern France, and includes works by Manet, David, Delacroix as well as sculptures by Rodin, Carpeaux and others. The museum includes a medieval and Renaissance collection as well as Antiquities. The museum holds regular events, special exhibitions, concerts and other cultural activities. In addition to the art collection, the palace itself is popular with visitors.

Dunkerque

The commune of Dunkerque is widely known for the Battle of Dunkerque and the Dunkerque evacuation of 1940. Hundreds of thousands of British troops (as well as French soldiers) were encircled by German soldiers and had to be evacuated by sea in an extraordinary operation undertaken by both the military and civilians. As well as the beaches of Dunkerque, there are a great many museums and monuments in the area that draw visitors.

Mémorial du Souvenir

This museum commemorates the Battle of Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo, otherwise known as the small-ships evacuation of allied forces from France during WWII. Visits outside of regular opening hours may be arranged with the Dunkerque Office of Tourism.

  • Mémorial du Souvenir
    At
    : Courtines du Bastion 32, Rue des Chantiers de France, 59140 Dunkerque
    Open: Daily from April-September
    email

For visits to the Mémorial du Souvenir outside of regular visiting hours, contact the Dunkerque Office of Tourism.

Pas-de-Calais

Musée La Coupole

La Coupole is an enormous underground complex where the Nazis built, housed and launched V2 rockets during the Second World War. Today, the underground structure serves as a visitor centre that uses reconstructions, films and other media to tell the story of the war and particularly the occupation, which was especially hard-felt in the region. The centre also addresses the connection between the Nazi technology and the eventual exploration of space.

Maison de la Faïence - Musée de la Céramique

The Maison de la Faïence museum of ceramics houses the factory that made pottery for the French royal family during the 16th century. Working ceramists have studios on site so visitors can see the process of creation and exhibitions are regularly held. A gift shop and restaurant are located on-site.

  • Maison de la Faïence (in French)
    At: Rue Jean Mace, 62240 Desvres 
    Tel: 03 21 83 23 23
    Fax: 03 21 83 44 45
    Open: Tuesday to Sunday
    email