Regional products, from creamy butter and sparkling apple juice to locally brewed beer, help capture the pastoral flavour of the peaceful Avesnois Regional Nature Park.
Visit Maroilles, home to the tangy-tasting cheese eaten on its own, popped into pies or used as a sauce. Dauphin or Boulette d’Avesnes cheeses are family strains.
With its mill, meadows and lakes, it’s just one of many blue stone and red brick villages peppering the rolling wooded hills and rich pastureland. Go riding, rambling, cycling, canoeing or sail at Val Joly, a vast lake-fringed resort.
Be dazzled by the creativity of the glassware at Sars–Poteries or the glassblowers at Trélon, then follow Caesar’s footsteps at the 3D interactive show at Roman Bavay, the largest archaeological site north of the Loire. Smile, too, at the Maori carnival giant at Le Quesnoy, one big reminder how wall-scaling New Zealand troops liberated this Vauban built stronghold in 1918.
13 Our suggestions