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From Calais, take the A26, then the D217, N43, D943, and the D928.
Enclosed by robust fortifications, St Omer's rich architectural heritage is a sight to behold
Saint-Omer is a delightful market town situated on the edge of Flanders. Named after the monk who founded the town in 637AD, by the 13th century, St-Omer had become one of the most prosperous medieval towns of the region. You’ll notice that the town is surrounded by marshlands which are criss-crossed with a network of intricate waterways with many areas only accessible by boat.
Is there a local speciality?
The local marsh vegetables are well worth trying.
Any good activities around?
For a taste of WWII history, visit the Blockhaus of Eperlecques, a gigantic bunker which was built to launch the infamous V2 rockets on London. For something completely different, visit the Arques Crystal Factory, the world leader in moulded glassware. Or, if you fancy relaxing, you could rent a boat and explore the marshes.
Why not take a look at the Notre Dame Cathedral which is over 800 years old. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries it is recognised as the most beautiful intact Gothic monument North of Paris. Do not miss the magnificent Rubens and astrological clock. There are audioguided tours in English.
The Musee de l’Hotel Sandelin displays fine arts, decorative arts and archaeological pieces. The Musee is situated in an elegant town house, with a courtyard and a garden built at the end of the 18th century which was a winter residence to the Countess of Fruges.
Five kilometres from St Omer is La Coupole, a former V2 rocket base built be the Nazis in 1943, which is now a museum. The Centre develops three themes: German Secret Weapons (V1+V2), the Conquest of Space from 1945 to 1969 and the Occupation of Northern France from 1940.
When's market day?
On Saturday mornings in the Place Foch and on Wednesday mornings in Place Perpignan. There’s also a flower market in May and a flea market in May and September. Don’t miss the Cave Saint Arnould in Rue de Calais where you can have a taste of the famous local Saint-Omer beer.
Interesting town fact
The famous St-Omer marshes cover 3,400 ha (9,000 acres). Originally dug by monks in the 7th century, they are still only accessible by boat (even the postman has one).