The Hidden Gems of Northern France

France has had a good reputation amongst expats for many years, for numerous reasons. However, there is more to France than just Paris, and the sun-drenched South coast. Unspoiled and largely undiscovered areas of Northern France are less reliant on tourist trade, making them a magnet for expats considering moving to France and looking for something a little bit different.
Near the North East corner of France is Lens, which was once of a hub for industrial activity because of the amount of coal that was discovered in the local area in 1849. Nowadays, Lens has a more cultural focus, playing host to a wing of the Louvre since 2012, with many art and music events happening throughout the year. Local football team Racing Club de Lens play at the 42,000-capacity Bollaert Stadium and are known across France for their warm and welcoming devoted fans.
For Art Deco lovers, a trip to Lens could prove a memorable trip. The Lens Railway Station is a French National Heritage Site and is a perfect example of early art deco architecture that demonstrates beautiful arches and is modelled to look like a silhouette of a steam locomotive.
On the banks of the River Seine is a city just north of Paris that is steeped in history – Rouen. It was one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe. Rouen is known for its wealth of museums, architecture and the Opéra de Rouen, which recently named Leo Hussain as their new Principal Conductor. Also worth a visit in Rouen, is the splendid Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was the subject of many famous paintings by Monet. Expats moving to Rouen will be welcomed by the active AVF community (Accueil des Villes Francais), an association of volunteers that are trained and elected to mobilise and greet newcomers moving to France.
Considered to be a city of art and history, Rennes in the North West of France is a city of two distinct halves. The northern part of the city was largely destroyed by a fire in 1720, meaning that many of the timber-framed houses were rebuilt in stone, whereas the Southern part of the city still has many of the original half-timber houses. The Museum of Fine Arts in Rennes is considered to be one of the most important French museums outside of France and houses a large collection ranging from Egyptian artefacts to modern art pieces.
Rennes has a reputable education system with two universities, both with very different specialist areas. The computer science and applied mathematics research institute is located nearby.
The North of France is often overlooked for fine property without the Paris price tag and is within easy reach of the UK, should you need to hop across the channel. The beautiful countryside, charming towns and typical French architecture and culture also make it a coveted location for Brits moving to France.
If you are planning on moving to France and you are tempted by the North, get in touch with Cadogan Tate to find out more about their European removals service.
Information correct at time of publication