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Guide to The Nord Pas de Calais region of France
Nord-Pas-des-Calais is in the far north of France bordering Belgium. This is an area that people mostly see in passing as they travel through the ferry port at Calais, however it has many beautiful areas and is noted for its clean beaches, undulating countryside, secluded woods and scenic river valleys. There are also some fine golf courses and many pretty villages.
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Nord Pas de Calais
Just over the border from Belgium and a hop across the Channel from England lies the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France. This is split into two departments: Pas de Calais and Nord. A region of contrasting landscapes : forests and woods ; gentle meadows and marshlands ; rolling hills dotted with windmills ; a varied coastline that stretches for miles and miles ; wide-open spaces of unspoilt countryside that make up the Regional Natural Parks ; a network of waterways for river cruising, and much, much more...
It is a region proud of its traditions where fairs, fêtes and festivals are so much a part of daily life. Steeped in history, discover the rich heritage of the region's monuments, museums and historic cities dating from Roman times to the last World Wars.
The coastline stretches over some 90 miles and looks out on the world's busiest shipping lane, the Straits of Dover and the English Channel. Trade between its close neighbour, Great Britain, and continental Europe has given rise to three large ports (Calais, Boulogne and Dunkerque).
France is famous for its wonderful gastronomy and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region is no exception with fine examples of mouth-watering regional specialities as well as numerous locally brewed beers.
There is an enormous choice of excellent restaurants in Nord-Pas de Calais - including many that cater for coach parties, and an increasing number that offer a taste of regional specialities. Many also offer a "national cuisine" - the sort of good food and drink you could find almost anywhere in France.
There are a number of dishes to look out for including:
Flamiche - Either a sweet or a savoury tart ("flamiche" is the Flemish word for cake.) The best known Flamiche is made with leeks. Flamiches are also made with Maroilles, a local strong cheese.
Anguilles au vert - eels cooked with spinach and sorrel leaves in white wine; garnished with herbs and served hot or cold on fried bread.
Andouillettes - small sausages made from chitterlings [offal] and served with chips or mashed potato. Speciality of Arras.
Tarte à Gros bords - open-top sweet custard tart. Pastry with the traditional custard and sugar filling, cooked in a wood-fired oven.
The Channel is an excellent fishing ground both for offshore catches and line fishing along the coast.
Sand-yachting, speed sailing, riding, golf, kiting and more...the beaches and countryside of the Nord Pas-de-Calais are the venues for a host of exciting recreational activities.
Nord-Pas de Calais has more or less the same climate as SE England. The North Atlantic drift, which brings warm water to the coasts of western Europe, also serves to protect the region from periods of excessive cold. The wettest areas are Artois, Haut Boulonnais and Avesnois, while certain areas to the north are as dry as the Cote d'Azur. Nord-Pas de Calais has an average temperature of 9.3°C. The average temperature in January is + 2.8°C. The average temperature in July is + 18.5°C.
The region's climate has also been a source of inspiration to landscape painters of the years.
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Getting to Nord Pas de Calais
Catch one of the ferries or Eurotunnel to Calais and you are there. This is one of the smallest regions of France so you are not more than two hours away form anywhere in the region by car.
If you plan to travel on later the area has excellent road connections with Paris and the rest of France via the A26 and A25 motorways.