About the Area
“The Seven Valleys is Northern France’s best-kept-secret terrain, its sleepy, rolling contours as green and bushy as anything you will come across in the Dordogne.
Lying between the ramparted old market town of Montreuil (where Victor Hugo penned Les Miserables) and Hesdin (the location for many an old Maigret movie), the soft, silent valleys make up a landscape that’s tailor-made for walkers and cyclists. This is rural France at its finest.” (Sunday Times Travel, June 30 2002).
The river valleys of this Pays des 7 Vallees stretch from the Course in the north to the Authie in the south and comprise the Authie, the Bras de Borsne,the Canche, the Course, the Crequoise, the Planquette and the Ternoise. Their undulating wooded valleys and the traditional rural architecture of the “fermettes” are a visual delight, especially in spring when carpets of wood anemones and bluebells cover the ground of the forests.
The golf courses are beautiful, under-populated and inexpensive and many other sports including sand-yachting, sailing, kayaking, tennis, cycling, walking, fishing and riding are available. Shopping and eating are also great.
Le Touquet is an Edwardian seaside town of charm and style. As well as an endless sandy beach with dunes, there are chic boutiques and restaurants. Sand-yachting takes place at low tide and the beach is so big that it does not interfere with the usual beach activities.
Montreuil is a pretty, walled town. The views across the plain from the ramparts are superb. Each summer there is a Son et Lumiere production at the old castle of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” which was inspired by the town (www.montreuilpatrimoine.org)
Hesdin has a historic and lovely main square. The town hall was built between 1563 and 1629 and nearby there is the 16thC church of Notre Dame with beautiful stained glass windows. The pedestrian street with its cafes and concert area near the river are very attractive.
Just 10 minutes south of Le Touquet is Bagatelle, the oldest theme park in France. There are 40 rides, a Cirque de Soleil-style circus and lots of shade provided by hundreds of pine trees where you can picnic or take your pick of the restaurants.
There are many formal gardens which are worth visiting within easy reach of the house. The best known are those in the grounds of the Abbe de Valloires, which was founded in the 12thC by the Cistercians and was reconstructed in the 18th C. These beautiful gardens include a marsh area and a garden of the five senses. Other smaller gardens can be found at Cheriennes and in the grounds of the fairy-tale castle of Creminil at Estree-Blanche.
The historic site of the Battle of Agincourt (Azincourt) is only six kilometres from Le Verger. It boasts a new state-of-the-art interactive museum, which really is fun! And in Fressin, the next village to Wambercourt, are the ruins of a 15thC chateau, very romantic and charming.
Fressin also has a 16thC church whose cemetery has several graves of knights who died at Agincourt.
Within an hour’s drive of the house are the battlefields and cemeteries of the two World Wars, and near Arras there is a 20 mile long labyrinth of underground tunnels. There is another 5 mile warren of tunnels under La Coupole, the immense dome-shaped silo where V2 rockets were stored, which is now a museum. And in the churchyard next to the house are three well-tended graves of an RAF crew whose plane came down nearby.