Nord-Pas de Calais is France's gateway region for travellers from the UK. Its coastline is lined with busy ports and charming seaside towns that look out across the English Channel - or la Manche to give it its French name. In between are broad beaches where sand artists and kite surfers work and play on golden sands lined with pastel-coloured beach huts, and chalky cliffs where cyclists and walkers make the most of the salty air.
Fortified towns, Flemish mills, flea markets and fine art are other regional attractions of the Nord-Pas de Calais. Imposing belfries are another familiar sight in towns around the region, while small art museums and village markets are other attractions. Fresh fruits and vegetables, locally-caught oysters and scallops, creamy cheeses and warm baguettes can be picked up in regular village and town markets up and down the Opal Coast - as this part of France likes to market itself - while large hypermarkets are a good bet for stocking up on French wines before catching the ferry or the Eurostar back to Blighty.
Flemish influences from Belgium, against which Nord-Pas de Calais nestles on its eastern flank, are noticeable in the regional cuisine, not least in the grand and cultured city of Lille. Restaurants and cafes here, and in other parts of the region, serve up salty mussels, frothy craft beers, genever gin, stuffed waffles and dainty pastries, as well as more traditional French flavours.