From thousands of years of history to beautiful castles and enough delicious food to fill your tummy every waking minute, Northern France is stunning. Honestly, you’re going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to all the best places in the north of France, especially if you’re travelling around the region.
One thing that I love most about the north of France is that it’s easily accessible from England, especially if you want a day trip (on foot, believe it or not) or a long weekend break in your own car.
Both options are perfectly doable if you take a ferry from Portsmouth, Poole or Plymouth (all in England) across the English channel to some of the best places in the north of France. You can see the routes and more specific details at Brittany Ferries. where you’ve got the options for about five starting points to begin your adventure in the north of France.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the best places in the north of France. You’re going to have an amazing trip.
Take a look at some of the very best places in the north of France to visit, below.
1.) Le Havre
Le Havre is much more than just a port town, with lots of things to see and do when you arrive. Make sure to visit the museum of modern art, the stunning Le Havre Cathedral and the beautiful, Les Jardins Suspendus.
Don’t forget to pack your walking shoes and trail the Côte d’Albâtre coastline that’s close by. It’s one of the prettiest coastlines and one of the best places in the north of France.
Now, it might get a little windy at times, from the sea breeze, but don’t be fooled, the sun is strong here! Make sure to pack some sun block as you’ll easily leave red-faced if you don’t.
Afterwards, take a few minutes car ride over to Honfleur, too. The harbour area is totally beautiful and well worth visiting.
Caen is one of Normandy’s prettiest cities that is perfect to explore some of that gorgeous French history that fills the region.
Make sure to stop at Château de Caen that was actually built by William the conqueror almost 1,000 years ago.
For a great bite to eat, make sure to gorge yourself silly at A Contre Sens – a well-deserving Michelin Star restaurant that creates some yummy and creative meals.
It’s easily up there as one of the best restaurants in the north of France; that’s for sure. You’ll leave stuffed.
3.) Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most iconic communes in the north of France.
Perched on its own island it’s not too far from the mainland itself, which makes it easy to access. At low tide, at least.
Make sure to spend an afternoon exploring this gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site that has a history dating back as the 6th Century. Honestly, it’s so iconic and easily one of the best places in the north of France to see.
Just be aware, it does get very busy on the weekends and during public holidays. If you can, try and avoid these times and visit earlier in the morning or midweek.
You won’t fully get rid of the crowds, but they will be much less.
Brest is a relatively large city situated on the westerly fringes of the north of France.
Make sure to visit Tour Tanguy, indulge in some local seafood from Le Crabe-Marteau, all after a long day of exploring the cobbled streets and independent stores.
Afterwards, if you want to take a break from the city, pop over to Nature Park of d’Armorique. It’s totally stunning and the whole area around here is gorgeous.
Carnac is a relatively small commune on the north-west coast of France. One of the most famous places to visit here has to be the Carnac Stones that are thought to be over 6,000 years old!
If you decide to take a dip in the sea, head over to one of the commune’s five local beaches that are perfect on a summer’s day.
Away from the breezy sea air, Paimpont is a gorgeous place to discover a little more history of this gorgeous region.
Make sure to visit the Abbey and discover the ancient forest of Paimpont that once was part of the vast forest that covered Brittany. It’s totally idyllic and one best places in the north of France to experience the region’s history.
Head into the forest and walk the nature trails, which is especially great in both winter and summer. Just make sure to pack some good hiking shoes, though. Sometimes, the ground can be waterlogged from moisture here and it’s not fun to hike with wet feet.
7.) Combourg Castle
Château de Combourg is one of the region’s prettiest castles! Perched right next to Lake Tranquil, this medieval castle is the perfect place to see the beautiful castles of the region.
It’s a stunning area to visit and one of those castles that are totally amazing to explore on a sunny day.
If you’re interested in French castles and Château’s, make sure to check out our full post on which to visit, right here.
Vannes, is a relatively large town that is steeped in over 2,000 years of history.
Visit this walled town to discover some of its impressive timber-framed houses in the old town and the beautiful city walls.
Make sure to grab a bite to eat at La Tete En L’air. Not only is the food delicious but its totally beautiful and one of the best places in the north of France to gorge.
You’ll love it.
9.) Belle Island
Around 10 miles or so from the mainland of France, Belle Island is so close but it can feel like a million miles away. It’s easily one of the best places in the north of France to visit if you want to get away from the mainland itself.
Make sure to visit some of its pretty towns, explore its rugged coastline, especially Côte Sauvage and discover some of the fresh fish restaurants that line the harbour fronts.
10.) Rest of France
Okay, so, in lots of ways the north of France can be a gateway to explore so much more of the country. Make sure to plan your route and stop off at places like Nimes, the stunning Dordogne Valley and Bordeaux, to name a few.
It really is a stunning country.