The Nord-Pas-de-Calais is a region in northern France, along the English Channel and Belgian border. The largest city in the region is Lille, the second largest is Calais. Calais is one of the largest transportation and trade hubs with the United Kingdom; it was part of England until the mid 16th century when it was recaptured by the French. The region is one of France’s smallest by square kilometre but one of the most densely populated. It was one of the first to fall to Germany in both World War I and World War II. During the second war, it was a Wehrmacht headquarters and one of the last to be liberated.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais is one of the industrial regions of France. Several automakers have plants in the region and there is also a strong agricultural industry. Most of the population lives in Lille, Dunkirk, and Calais. These three are also the main towns with most history, culture, and accommodation.
Hostel accommodation can be found in all three of these towns. Most of the hostels in Calais are in the city centre, near the ferry terminal, while in Lille hostels are only within a few blocks of the cathedral and city square. Lille is a university town, so you may find that in the summer the university offers hostel accommodation to travellers as well. This region is easily accessible from Paris by train, England by the Channel Tunnel, or Belgium by road.
Lille, Calais, and Dunkirk are the main tourist draws to this region. Lille has a strong Flemish culture due to its presence on the border with Belgium, Calais retains an English heritage, and Dunkirk still has its original fishing roots, although it is most well-known for the evacuation of Allied troops during World War II. There’s plenty to see and do in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, from the old city walls at Calais to the collection of Beaux-Arts museums in Lille. If you happen to be in Lille in early September, try to visit the Braderie de Lille, one of the largest flea markets in the world. The entire city transforms into a twenty-four hour market; the effect is astounding. Dunkirk was rebuilt following the war and while nothing original remains, it still has the feel of a port village, with seafood restaurants and a thriving fishing community. Calais lost of much its historical architecture in the war, but one structure that remains is the Tour de Guet, from which you can see most of the city.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Nord-Pas-de-Calais hostels. Welcome.