Nord-Pas de Calais - Créateurs d'horizons

The vaulted ceiling in Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer cathedral

Cultural excursions in Saint-Omer

Saint-Omer owes its cultural wealth to its strong religious activity during the Middle Ages. Abbeys and monasteries sprung up across the area after the monk Audomar brought Christianity to the region. Enjoy a romantic evening stroll in the summer beside the illuminated ruins of Saint-Bertin Abbey (one of the largest abbeys in Europe). This grand building has retained some high sections of stonework - truly spectacular! Wander around the college district and admire the Baroque façade of the chapel of the College of Walloon Jesuits. Further on, the chapel of the English Jesuit College feels just like Hogwarts from Harry Potter. Continue to the heritage room in the library -  50, 000 antique books and 1,000 unique items, all conserved within the wood-panelling of the former scriptorium at the Abbey.

View of the inside of the heritage library in Saint-Omer
  • The heritage library in Saint-Omer
  • © Eric LEBRUN - LightMotiv
Explore the small shopping streets in the town, which retain their medieval feel.

Enjoy a break with good food and shopping!

Saint-Omer has always been a great trading town because of its prime position beside farmed wetlands and because the river Aa passes through it. This was made a navigable waterway in the 12th century. This economic activity is evident in ‘La Grand'Place’ (Place Foch). Take a look around the weekly Saturday market. You will be surrounded by local small producers and high spirits. There is also a great range of restaurants and bars to choose from here -  and all in such magnificent architectural surroundings! The town’s complete history is on display, with the neoclassical outline of the town hall and the Flemish flourish of old, step-gabled houses. Explore the small shopping streets in the town, such as ‘Rue des Clouteries’ and ‘Rue Louis Martel’ which retain their medieval feel.

Saint Bertin
  • Saint Bertin
  • © Michel LEGAY - LightMotiv

Make your weekends in Saint-Omer exciting!

The town comes alive with a series major events throughout the year. In April, you can explore the fortifications as part of the Euroregional Fortified Towns Days. Why not take a breath of fresh air in the public gardens, which are a real green urban oasis. This French formal garden was designed in the area of an old Vauban fortification. In May, come and enjoy ‘The Night of Museums’ and ‘Meet in the Gardens’ national events. The unmissable ‘Cortège nautique du Haut-Pont’ parade is THE event to attend in July. With Heritage Days in September, the ‘Patoisades’ meals in November and the Christmas Market in December, there is something interesting to experience throughout the year!

Saint-Omer public gardens in the Vauban ramparts
  • Saint-Omer public gardens in the Vauban ramparts
  • © Sébastien JARRY - LightMotiv

The river Audomarois Marshes - Saint-Omer

For centuries, the water network of this huge unenclosed garden on the outskirts of Saint-Omer has offered a livelihood to generations of men and women; it is a fertile area being the only marsh in France that has always been cultivated; it is an island between the river and the sea, a sensitive and vulnerable landscape, listed by UNESCO. Visit it at the pace dictated by the flat bottomed marsh boats which are still built the traditional way by the marsh’s last boat builder.

Notre-Dame cathedral

A Gothic masterpiece 57 metres high and built over 3 centuries! Some must-sees: the 16th century astrolabe clock, ‘The Descent from the Cross’ by Rubens and the Cavaillé-Coll organ.