The Hauts-de-France region in France’s far northeast has five départements (Aisne, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, and Somme). This includes the traditional regions of Picardy and Flanders; Lille is the capital.
Inhabitants are known as the Ch'tis or Chtimis, a nickname bestowed by soldiers in the First World War, having fun with the local accent (c'est toi—’it’s you’—turns into ch'est ti; c'est moi—’it’s me’—turns into ch'est mi)
Although not known as one of the great foodie regions of France, the Hauts-de-France is determined to change that around with its appointment as the Région Européenne de la Gastronomie 2023. Fresh seafood (especially herring, hareng in all its forms) and Flemish specialities stand out, such as Carbonnade flamande and houchepot, the star fare at an estaminet—a traditional rustic tavern.
It’s the land of chicorée and frites, gaufres (waffles), Mimolette and pungent Maroilles, the queen of the local beer-washed cheeses. And there’s plenty of beer: with 52 brasseries, a third of all the beer in France is brewed in the Hauts-de-France, including the excellent century-old, family run 3 Monts.
Image by Raimond Spekking