A weekend trip to northern France. 🙂 The region is called Pas de Calais.
It has been named due to its famous Saint Audomar who brought Christianity to the area.
The first stop was the main square where the Christmas market was held. We decided to have a glass of champagne (which was surprisingly a bit sour) and stroll down the food market to buy cheeses and eggs.
The main square contains typical 17th century buildings sticking together on a small but cold rain. This is the area of constant past conflict between French, Dutch, English and Spanish Army for the territory and dominance. Not to mention World Wars…
We were driving a bit more than two hours from Brussels.
As it was past noon already we decided to go local and have a local cuisine: the welsh and local Saint Omer beer.
The old cathedral was constructed almost entirely in the 13th century. The church contains Biblical paintings, a colossal statue of Christ seated between the Virgin Mary and St John – all dating from 13th century and presented by the emperor Charles V.
And of course, the symbol of France like statue of Jeanne d’Orleans.
Walking around before we decided to get warm in some coffee place, I noticed the Palais de Justice and its portal. It was beautiful and richly representative for the small city like Saint Omer – indeed rich country, or at least it used to be.
The next stop was Saint Bertin Abbey ruins. It was one of the most powerful abbeys in Northern Europe during the entire medieval period.
Three monks founded the first benedictine abbey along the Aa river in the 7th century. These three monks, Momelin, Ebertram and Bertin were sent by St. Omer to evangelize the territories on the north.
The night we welcomed in beautiful holiday inn called Villa Saint Marguerite. We had a view on the lake and river Aa and listened the rain.
The next day we visited La Coupole!
Also known as the Coupole d’Helfaut-Wizernes and originally codenamed Bauvorhaben 21 (Building Project 21). It was a Second World War bunker complex located about 5 km from Saint Omer.
It was built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets directed against London and southern England. Luckily, the WW2 ended 2 weeks before they were launched.
We entered into this claustrophobic and moistened and depressive underground building. There were photo exhibitions about rockets from World Wars.
We watched the movie about Nazi occupation of French territory from where the Nazis were building rockets and bombard UK. However, Winston Churchill discovered their intentions and destroyed the rocket constructions by bombing from the air. The Nazis decided to go underground.
Poor engineers and camp prisoners were building the rocket in terrible conditions wearing the prison clothes.
Of course, we all know how the World War ll ended. The main creator of this idea, the Nazi Wernher von Braun was later invided by US (even though he was a strong SS member) to become member of NASA and participate the project of first man landing to Moon. In fact, he created the rocket that landed on the Moon. You do the moral here.
We walked a bit more through the museum of French resistance and then entered the Planetarium. We sat into the chairs (more precisely we laid) and listened the guiding voice of nice French lady explaining us the solar system while the planets and stars were appearing in front of us in 4D technique.
Lunch time! Welsh again, but vegetarian version and brilliant local beer La Goudale 🙂 with pizza, of course!
The last thing we visited was Maison du Marais. Actually, we were not able to enter cause it is closed on Sunday but we made a walk around through the beautiful nature: the bog, birds, river Aa, tall grass…
For the end, let me show you the beer I decided to buy for home. In case you are interested in local dialect: