There’s a vast choice of shopping to suit all tastes and budgets in Hauts-de-France – here are a few of our very favourites. Note: This article is part of a bigger magazine feature called “Departments of Culture: Hauts-de-France”.
Hauts-de-France has historically produced some of the finest lace and ceramics in France. Today, they also produce award-winning craft beer and artisan waffles as well as many other delicious beverages and foodstuffs from champagne to handmade chocolate. And, of course, Le Creuset was born in the Aisne department back in 1925 – the brainchild of two Belgian industrialists, Armand Desaegher, a specialist in melting, and Octave Aubecq, a specialist in enamelling.
Two minutes from the Eurotunnel exit and 10 minutes from Calais harbour, Cité Europe at Coquelles features 120 shops representing high street brands, as well as restaurants, a Carrefour hypermarket and a petrol station. Open Monday to Saturday 10am-8pm (restaurants open Sundays too). www.citeurope.co.uk.
Find shops selling Calais-Caudry lace at www.dentelledecalaiscaudry.fr and buy statement scarves from InouïToosh in Saint-Valery-sur-Somme www.inoui-editions.com. Lille is packed with upmarket boutiques such as Julie Meuriss for leather bags and Le Colonel for bow ties and other accessories. For designer bargains, head to neighbouring Roubaix for the McArthur Glen Outlet and Galeries Lafayette Outlet, plus other factory shops.
Food and Drink
Just off the A16 motorway near Junction 44, Calais Vins also has a bakery and a branch of Philippe Olivier’s legendary cheese shop next door.
Buy local craft beers at microbreweries throughout the north of the region. Pale Ale by Anosteké was a prizewinner at the 2021 World Beer Awards; check out the brewery shops at Blaringhem and Merville. For champagne, see www.champagne-meteyer.com and www.champagnepannier.com.
Pack the coolbag and head to Les Frères Bernard at Wierre-Effroy for traditional Côte d’Opale cheeses, and browse the many food shops at Montreuil-sur-Mer. Sweet tooth? Try Méert waffles from Lille; macarons from Trogneux in Amiens; biscuits from La Biscuiterie du Coquelicot at Albert in the Somme; and handmade chocolate from Beussent and Au Chat Bleu in Le Touquet.
Ask at any tourist office about local market days, not just fresh produce, but also collectables and antiques. For local flavour and atmosphere, browse the daily fish market in Boulogne and the covered Art Deco produce market in Le Touquet (Thursday and Saturday mornings).
Home and Handicrafts
Famous for its glassware since 1825, Cristal d’Arques has an excellent factory shop that also sells crockery, cutlery and kitchenware at Saint-Omer www.latabledarc.com. Le Creuset’s timeless cast iron casseroles are made in the Aisne department; no outlet shop, but there is a retail outlet at Fresnoy-le-Grand.
Museum shops offer original souvenirs. Expect coal-themed posters and snow globes, scented candles and bracelets shaped like slag heaps amongst the quirky gifts available from Louvre-Lens and other outlets. Search on Autour du Louvre Lens. Find more themed souvenirs at the Ceramics Museum in Desvres www.musee-ceramique-desvres.com.
Save the VAT on purchases within the EU by asking for a tax refund form. It must be validated by scanning the barcode at a self-service electronic kiosk, also called a PABLO kiosk, such as those in the Calais terminal for Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. Amongst qualifying goods are jewellery, cosmetics, technology, food and drink. Eurotunnel customers can buy duty-free products in the terminal using the unique QR code on their booking confirmation.
From France Today magazine
Lead photo credit : Pick up delicious goodies to savour at the Art Deco covered market in Le Touquet © Gillian Thornton