The Artois and Picardy regions of Northern France are often overlooked as folk pass through heading further afield. But here you will find interesting attractions amid a rural landscape dotted with charming towns and villages.
This is the only Inside Track holiday that kicks off with a lunchtime Eurostar journey to Calais Frethun – “sacre bleu”! Nearby is the inimitable Aa Vallee Railway, our first exciting attraction. We’ll journey between Arques and Lumbres passing the spooky La Coupole – an enormous wartime relic.
A very special outing to the south starts with steam courtesy of our good friends at APPEVA. This rustic, narrow gauge, railway has become one of the region’s top tourist destinations. Originally a supply line to the trenches it later carried sugar beet. The route follows the banks of the Somme and features both a tunnel and a zigzag switchback. Our afternoon travels take us to nearby Peronne for the fascinating military museum housed in the imposing town chateau.
More steam this morning, especially arranged, at the little known Vallee de la Scarpe Railway that tracks the canal-side at St Amand les Eaux. Fine views of wildfowl, fisherman, a smoky run-past and gulls circling languidly over the distant landfill site! Later, we return to Arras by rail and explore above and below the streets to discover the fascinating history of the town.
A gem of a day out to the coast commences by rail to Noyelles where we join the famous Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme. This impressive and popular tourist railway runs in a huge horseshoe around the bay amid wetlands teeming with birdlife. Our clever itinerary will ensure we get the best out of the railway and allow for a little time in the delightful sailing town of St. Valery – yachts galore! Our return route to Arras is charmingly rustic and very relaxed.
We are going to finish with a truly authentic taste of Northern France. So, by rail to Hazebrouck and then into the marshes of Clairmarais for a flat bottomed boat trip to observe the lives of the market gardeners that make a living here – this really is rustic. We then drive into Lille, jump on a Eurostar and say au revoir – très magnifique!
We have selected this modern hotel as our base, because it is perfectly located within historic Arras just a short walk from the railway station, town centre, cafes, restaurants and the famous Flemish-style arcadel buildings – unique in France.