Les Hauts de France

Formerly Picardie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais


Hauts-de-France is an administrative region in the north of France, created by the territorial reform of 2014. The result of the merger of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy (themselves created in 1972), it was first provisionally called Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardy. It covers 31,806 km2 and includes five departments: Aisne, Nord, Oise, Pas-de-Calais and Somme. Its capital is Lille, the region’s main city and previously the capital of Nord-Pas-de-Calais. Amiens, capital of the former Picardy, is the second largest city in the region.

The region is bordered to the north by the North Sea for 45 kilometres and to the west by the English Channel for more than 120 kilometres. On the other side is Kent in the United Kingdom, 35 kilometres away. On the land side, the region borders Belgium (Hainaut and West Flanders) to the north-east, from Bray-Dunes to Watigny, for more than 350 kilometres. It also borders Normandy to the West, Ile-de-France to the South and the Grand Est to the East.

Located in the heart of Europe, with 6,009,976 inhabitants on 1 January 2015, and a population density of 189 inhabitants/km2, it is the 3rd most densely populated region in France and the 2nd most densely populated in mainland France after Île-de-France.

The region is located in the north of France: the commune of Bray-Dunes is the most northerly point of the region, all territories combined. Stretching between the 49th and 51st northern parallels, the region covers an area of 31,806 km2, or 5.8% of French territory. Like the rest of mainland France, it is in the Central European Standard Time time zone and, at the time of the changeover to summer time, it is in the Central European summer time zone.


It is a territory with rather contrasting origins. Until the 18th century, it was divided into several provinces, the main ones being Picardy (around Amiens, Saint-Quentin, Boulogne and Calais), Flanders (around Lille and Dunkirk) and Artois (around Arras, Lens and Béthune), while Ile-de-France extended as far as Beauvais, Compiègne and Laon. Even today, geographical, cultural and economic differences can still be found in this historical delimitation and some of these appellations are still commonly used. The French Revolution marked the creation of today’s departments.

The border position of the Hauts-de-France made it a strategic economic and military place. It has always been at the heart of major conflicts: during the Medieval Ages and recent history with the two World Wars.

Nord-Pas-de-Calais & Picardie Flags


It is Based on the crest of the Flandre county. “Lion of Flandres appearing”, used on the flag of the Belgian Flanders (located partly in the west of Belgium). It is also sometimes used for French Flanders (western department of northern France). Artois and Hainault (adjacent to this area) have different flags, as well as the Nord-Pas-de-Calais)


It is based on the seal of the Picardy Nation at the University of Paris. There is the LYs flower, the symbol of the old French royalty on the royal blue background and the “Lion of Flandres”.

Culinary Specialities

Potjevleesch & “Ficelle picarde



Waterzoï & Mussels & French Fries

Fish & From The Sea:

Vegetables & Vegetarian:

Bêtise de Cambrai” & Filled waffles


Desserts & Sweets:

Are you hooked on the region? You want more information? I invite you to watch these interesting videos that make you discover the region with different points of view.

For this article, I used these sources:

Sign up to our newsletter