Tourist Attractions

Information on the main tourist attractions, places of interest and sights to see in and around Picardy and Nord Pas-de-Calais...

The Nord Pas-de-Calais Regional Tourist Board provides downloadable English-language audio tours of various attractions in the region. These audio tours are available for Bethune, Lens and the old city in Lille.

Tourist Attractions - Nord

There are many attractions and places to see in Picardy and Nord Pas-de-Calais regions. An area populated with medieval towns and villages, of varying landscapes, picturesque forests and open farmland, it is a region rich in history. However, the area is also home to innovative scientific and industrial research and development.

Lille Zoo

The Lille Zoo, set in three acres in the middle of the Parc de la Citadelle, is just a 10-minute walk from the centre of Lille. There are over 70 species of animals living in the zoo including red pandas and white rhinos. The zoo is engaged in programs to protect and conserve endangered species and it participates in the European breeding programme. Special interactive events for schools and groups are available. Entry is free.

The zoo is closed from mid-December to mid-February.

  • Zoo de Lille
    At: Parc de la Citadelle, Avenue Mathias Delobel, 59000 Lille 
    Tel: 03 28 52 07 00
    Fax: 03 20 57 38 08
    email

Le Bois Chenu

This urban ecological park in Proville, just outside Cambrai, is a tranquil area teeming with flora and fauna. It is frequented by walkers. Entry is free.

Matisse Gallery

The Matisse Gallery, housed in the lovely Palais Fénelon, is home to a collection of works by Henri Matisse. The museum charts the life and work of Henri Matisse, considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. The museum also houses works representative of other artists of the same period including Chagall and Le Corbusier.

  • Musée Matisse
    At
    : Palais Fénelon, 59360 Le Cateau Cambrésis
    Tel: 03 27 84 64 50
    Fax: 03 27 84 64 54
    Open: Daily, except Tuesdays, 10:00-18:00. Closed 1 November, Christmas and New Year's Day

Tourist Attractions - Pas-de-Calais

Nausicaá

Nausicaá is an interactive sea-life centre near Boulogne with sharks, rays and many other species of sea creatures. The centre has created small versions of the seas and oceans and it offers insights into them through aquariums, exhibits and other learning experiences.

  • Nausicaá
    At
    : Boulevard Sainte Beuve, 62200 Boulogne-sur-Mer
    Tel: 03 21 30 99 99
    Fax: 03 21 30 93 94
    Open: Daily; closed Christmas.
    email

Hippodrome du Touquet

The Touquet Hippodrome is an historic race course which was well-known to wealthy British holidaymakers in the early 1900s. The racecourse was designed primarily with these early tourists in mind. It is now a place of architectural interest, and has activities for the whole family including a children's play area. It is still used as a racecourse.

Tourist Attractions - Picardy

Musée des Temps Barbares

This Museum of Barbarian Times, is a popular day out for families with children. With replicas of a Frankish village, Merovingian farm and necropolis during the Early Middle Age, children can interact with each other and with their surroundings and ''excavate" on the site.

Les Hortillonages

These historic floating gardens, reclaimed from marshy land centuries ago, produced fruits and vegetables for the inhabitants of Amiens for many years. Today, in addition to being a tranquil and lush floral delight, the vegetable and fruit gardens are still productive, producing up to three harvests each year. Visitors, using special boats called "barques à cornet" can weave their way in and out of the 65 kilometres of canals (rieux) that cross the 300 hectares of gardens.

Maison de Jules Verne and International Jules Verne Centre

Jules Verne, the author of "Around the World in 80 Days" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" lived in this 19th-century house for a number of years at the end of the century. The house, his personal belongings and other exhibits detail the history of this famous writer. Seminars and interactive events for children are available and group tours in English are available by reservation.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens

Built in the early 13th century, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Amiens, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals ever built, is a UNESCO heritage site. In addition to the soaring ceilings, the sculptures throughout the church are of particular note. During renovations in the late 1990s, it was discovered that the facade of the church was originally multi-coloured. Through the use of special lighting techniques, the colours present on the facade in the 13th century have been recreated and presented in a” Cathedral in Colours" show (for a fee).

Entrance to the cathedral is free and services are regularly held. Audio guides in English are available for a fee from the Tourism Office nearby at 40 place Notre-Dame.

Château de Chantilly

The Château de Chantilly was built for Anne de Montmorency (the Duke of Montmorency), and is comprised of a main mansion with an attached smaller mansion. The smaller mansion was built in approximately 1560. The larger of the two was originally built in the early 16th century but was destroyed during the French Revolution. It was rebuilt in the late 19th century and today houses the Musée Condé, which has a collection of historical paintings considered second only to the collection found in the Louvre. The exquisite château also houses many fine examples of French antiques and books.

Within the 30 square mile grounds are a landscape garden, English garden, five hamlets of peasant houses, the Grand Stables, Living Horse Museum and the Château d'Enghien guest house. The stables are considered by many to be the most beautiful in the world.

The château and grounds usually close for a period each January.

  • Château de Chantilly
    At
    : 60500 Chantilly
    Tel: 03 44 27 31 80
    Fax: 03 44 54 90 73
    Open: Wednesday to Monday; closed Tuesdays

Chantilly Racecourse (Hippodrome de Chantilly)

The Chantilly Racecourse, which first opened in 1834, is located next to the Grand Stables of the Château de Chantilly. It's a thoroughbred race course for flat racing, though on weekends from April to July, polo matches are held on the grounds.

Château de Compiègne

Originally built for King Charles V, then elaborated for Louis XV, and restored under Napoleon, the Château de Compiègne became a national museum in 1870. Today three museums can be found within the château: the historical apartments; a Car Museum; and the Museum of the Second Empire.

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Beauvais

The Saint Pierre Cathedral in Beauvais is a particularly striking example of Gothic architecture. The building was never completed; a 10th-century Romanesque church sits where the nave was intended.

Eglise Saint Etienne

The church of St. Etienne is a Romanesque Gothic church constructed from the honey-coloured stone of the region. The church is known for its stained-glass windows. Crafted in the 16th century, the windows were all crafted by the Leprince family of glassblowers. Of particular importance is the window entitled, ''The Tree of Jesse".

Manufacture Nationale de Beauvais

The National Tapestry Factory is a working factory for tapestry and fabric where visitors can watch the manufacturing process. There is a small fee for a tour. Booking, through the Office of Tourism, is required for visits.

  • Manufacture Nationale de Beauvais
    At:
    24 rue Henri Brispot, 60000 Beauvais
    Tel
    : 03 44 14 41 90
    Tel
    : 03 44 15 30 34 (for booking)
    Open
    : Tuesday-Thursday, 14:00-16:00