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Meet the Agent in Hauts de France

We'd thought of buying a house in France for several years and so in 1998 took the plunge and bought an old farm. The renovation was going to be expensive and after a while, to get an income, we registered with the Chambre de Metiers as a Property Management company looking after English-owned second homes. The business developed and we found ourselves doing more varied work, roofing, sourcing qualified artisans as well as the cleaning, gardening, key-holding etc. The years have taken their toll and my days of climbing on roofs has come to an end. The opportunity to work with Leggett, combining customer service and property, for me, is a dream life.

My area - "The agricultural heart of France"

For every valley there has to be a plateau and here, where I live in the Seven Valleys, we have eight of them! We're lucky enough to live on the plateau between the Canche and Authie rivers at the southern end of the valleys. When the sun is shining, my view is over green trees and golden wheat fields under clear blue skies.

Only five minutes away, to the north east, is the small town of Frévent, from where you are the same distance from Paris, London and Bruxelles, while seven minutes in the opposite direction is Auxi le Château, gate-way to the Somme and Picardie. This is the agricultural heart of France and outside the towns, the communities are all farming based and the tractor is “King of the Road”! The climate here is very similar to southern England but usually a bit warmer in summer (we can get to a blistering 35° and the roads start to melt) while winter can be severe, with temperatures of -20° not uncommon.

Between those extremes we have fresh springs and misty autumns – life here revolves around four real seasons. The older houses here are built from "torchis" a mix of mud, straw and lime under tiled or slate roofs, very different from the flemish style of the north, or the red and white laced brickwork common to the south of Picardie but “torchis” is a very efficient insulator while being totally natural. Having suffered from two world wars there has been plenty of new building over the last sixty years and that continues today. The lifestyle here is also natural, fresh meat, fish and vegetables and not being a wine producing area, the beers and ciders are locally produced and can be pretty heady! This is THE life and we love it.

Bienvenue en Nord-Pas-de-Calais (now part of Hauts de France)



The most desirable area in the whole of France!

For two thousand years this area of France has been fought over and contains some of the most famous names in history, Dunkerque, Calais, Azincourt, among them. Surely this must be the most wanted part of France!

The more recent " invaders " have arrived more peacefully wanting the dream of the leisurely French lifestyle while keeping quick and easy links to family and friends in the UK, Belgium and The Netherlands

Arriving in France, either from the Channel or through Belgium, you travel through the flat, industrial heartland of the north around Dunkerque in Nord (59), the old mining areas, or the open country around Calais (62), or along the Opal coast, then the changing landscape as you get further south and through the green rolling hills as you head past St. Omer. From here on it's the broad expanse of cereal fields interspersed with cows and sheep; this is the agricultural heart of France.

In the centre of all this, stretching from Montreuil sur Mer to Aire sur La Lys and south to the Authie, is the area known as the Seven Valleys, formed from the local rivers of which only the Canche and the Authie reach the sea at Le Touquet and Berck respectively. Into these two rivers flow the Ternoise ( the river of Swords ), the Créquoise, the Planquette, the Course and the Lys which all give their names to the valleys along with the Bras de Bronne, probably the most spectacular of all!

Music is everywhere here and to suit all tastes from the very french one man and his accordion to the carnivales with the traditional "Géants", from the local bar musicians to Main Square Festival in Arras offering 30 - 40 major stars of modern music to nearly a quarter of a million people over three days.

We don't have mountains, we don't have deserts we have gently rolling hills, rivers and forests. To make it even better we still have four seasons, ranging from 35° in the height of summer to a fairly chilly -20° in winter but best of all we have the warm-hearted, generous and true french people!

Food and Drink

Food & Drink in Nord-Pas de Calais

Waterzooi is a dish originating from Belgium that is very popular in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, especially for family gatherings or friendly lunches on Sundays. The original version of this dish is made with fish but many variations use chicken. In the latter case, the name is a Kippenwaterzooi. Eaten with the famous Poulet de Licques (local high quality chicken meat), the Waterzooi is a must. The name of the dish originates from Water and Ziedem, meaning simmering water.
Sea or freshwater can be used. This stew is then made by melting vegetables, carrots, potatoes, herbs and leeks with eggs, cream and butter. The typical fish used is bass, eel, carp or pike though cod, halibut, turbot and monkfish are suitable too. Bread (a baguette is ideal) is used to sop up the soup.

The Potjevleesch
This traditional dish is common to the Dunkirk area. Cold chicken, rabbit and veal meat are used with a rich jelly covering the mixture. Served with chips, this French meat dish is definitely a classic for family meals. A local variation also makes use of apples cooked quickly and then fried.The traditional dish is normally eaten cold accompanied with chips and a fine regional beer (the choice is wide). Gherkins and salad are also ideal.

Les Bêtises de Cambrai are minty sweets. In French, a bêtise is a kind of nonsense or a stupidity, the word is normally used to talk to unruly children! It is said that in the 19th century, a teenager from the Afchain family made a mistake while preparing sweets for the family business, a "confiserie" (sweet shop). His mother told him that he had made "bêtises", but the clients loved the resulting minty sweets – which quickly became a huge success all over France! Betises, made only from natural products, are refreshing sweets with a pleasant taste and digestive benefits.

This is not known as a wine producing region but the variety of local beers need sampling! As well as the local "bière de garde" (session beer) and the heady "bières d' Abbaye" available in the bars and supermarkets it's worth searching out the bar/brasseurs, the local bars that brew their "bière artisanale" on site (my personal favourite is the Bar de la Poste in St. Pol sur Ternoise where the genial host not only brews his excellent beer but runs a very good restaurant!)

Things to Do

Nord-Pas de Calais is a region that has plenty to offer: the "Cote d'Opale" is a beautiful west-facing coast with chalk cliffs, elegant resorts, and sandy beaches; inland there are many areas of unspoilt countryside, particularly in the Pas de Calais. There are plenty of interesting towns and cities starting with Lille, the regional capital, and one of the great historic cities of Flanders; other interesting towns include Arras, Saint-Omer, Boulogne, Douai and Valenciennes. Other places and sites of interest include:

Audomarois: the fenland around St.Omer, is a major wetland area with rich bird life, and a nature reserve.
Cassel: Attractive small town sitting on a hilltop dominating the plains all around.
Roubaix: "Art and history town" - The town, once a major textiles city, has an interesting heritage of old textile mills and urban architecture.
Le Quesnoy: Small town, one of the finest fortified cities in France.
Arques: Glassworks factory visit. Arques crystal is among the most famous in France.
Arras with it's Flemish square and beffroi, one of the Unesco sites and theWellington Quarry underground World War 1 museum.
Boulogne sur Mer: Classed as a "Town of art and history", Boulogne is an attractive fishing port with a museum housing a world-class collection of Egyptian antiquities and Nausica, the French national Sea Centre, and one of the largest aquariums in Europe.
Eperlecques: The notorious blockhouse from which V2 flying bombs were launched at London during the second world war. Museum and visits.
Lens: Opened Dec. 2012, Le Louvre Lens - an annexe of the Paris Louvre, permanent and temporary displays of works from the main Louvre, including many major works.
Montreuil sur Mer: Small old town with fortifications and known for it's annual "Son et Lumière" ( " Les Miserables " the result of Victor Hugo's position as Maire of the town ).

How we can help you

Click Here to Ask Our Team a Question We are here to help. Contact us now.

Local knowledge is the key we help you find not only the property you want, but also the lifestyle.Hauts de France is a large region with many areas of outstanding beauty and miles and miles of coastline, but it is also a subtly varied region. We can help to guide you so you find not only the perfect home, but in the perfect location.

Our own portfolio includes hundreds of properties from manor houses to country cottages, from family homes to barns for renovation and our network of contacts gives us access to many more.

Our experienced team will support you throughout the buying process and beyond to ensure you settle in and continue to enjoy your new home in Hauts de France. From help with bureaucracy, finding artisans and enrolling with clubs or schools we are happy to help. Just e-mail or call us and we will be happy to discuss your project.

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