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Carte Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Flag region Nord-Pas-de-Calais

General information

Informations general
Prefecture Lille
Area 12,414 km2
Population 4,028,000
Departments Nord (59), Pas-de-Calais (62)
Nord-Pas-de-Calais is home to just under 4 million persons and is one of, if not the smallest French regions even though it has the second highest population density. It is located in northern France and consists of just two departments, Nord and Pas-de-Calais. The region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais also has a strong influence of Flemish origin on account of its common border with Belgium. As such, many of the residents to date speak Flemish and consume more beer than they do wine, particularly during annual fairs and carnivals.

Nord-Pas-de-Calais is largely industrialized, with 35% of the population working in heavy industry which is now declining. The coal mining as well steel, iron, and metallurgy industries provided employment for a large percentage of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais work force, thus creating a sort of dependence on the region. With most of the plants and mines now closed, the unemployment rates have increased and are significantly higher than the national average since only about 5% of the entire work force had been employed in the agricultural industry. Nevertheless, there is a concerted effort now being made to create new jobs for these workers through the attraction of new investment ventures to the region. This will include grants, tax incentives, low-interest loans and free enterprise zones.

Near Lille in the far north is the town of Arras with its beautiful old baroque buildings and its museums, shops and old buildings. Underneath the town center is where the tourists rush to – there is a fascinating network of tunnels which were actually chalk mines way back in the 10th century. The British converted it into a huge hideout during WWI. In the capital city of Lille, the old world architecture blends easily with modern lifestyles. It’s a place that is home to thousands of students so the night life and shopping are very alive too.

The noteworthy road and rail links makes accessibility across the English Channel rather simple, with more than 20 million travelers going through Calais annually. It is very often the first stop for many foreign tourists on holiday, considering that the fast trains mean under a two hours’ journey from Waterloo Station. This ease of accessibility also allows for the great number of second home owners from Britain to access a lovely supply of houses and other properties, ranging from delightful townhouses to quaint coastal retreats and country cottages. Because of this, property values have sky-rocketed in those parts of the region deemed to be more attractive, although good bargains may still be obtained. Coastal areas are among the most expensive, though they remain modest in comparison to the coastal areas of other regions. Further inland from the many sandy beaches, you will find pleasant river valleys, lovely woodlands, fine golf courses, pretty villages and market gardens. The weather which is not too extreme with warm summers and cool winters is also an attraction for people who want to visit or invest in a second home.

The north has the Opal Coast which is the hub for surfing and water sports in the area. The expanse of white sandy beaches is a joy to behold. The whole area is known as the carnival area with some kind of celebratory event going on all the time. The food specials are mainly seafood based, all washed down with gallons of beer, which is more of a Flemish tradition. Some of the gastronomic highlights include the Arleux smoked garlic, the roasted Andouillette sausage and the Betises de Cambrai which are delicious hard mint candies.

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