Le Passage Merveilleux Salon De Thé 2019 Saint OmerLe Passage Merveilleux Salon De Thé 2019 Saint Omer
©Le Passage Merveilleux Salon De Thé 2019 Saint Omer|Tourisme en Pays de Saint-Omer
Sharing a moment of discovery

With a

Visits as close as possible to the locals

Greeters are volunteers who provide an unusual and personal insight into their corner of the world, their neighborhood, their town, which they are proud of and passionate about. Follow these volunteers for unforgettable encounters.

Aire-sur-la-Lys

Bruno DELANNOY

The press correspondent is inexhaustible, the human contact instantaneous. “Always meeting people, that’s the way it’s always been”. Bruno, who admits his sin of gossip, is quick to get involved in the service of others. Sports clubs, local fairs, helping out here and there – the young man spares no effort. Was he programmed to become a shopkeeper in his native village of Racquinghem before settling in Aire-sur-la-Lys, in the middle of the old route linking Calais to Arras? “I’m something of a great traveler of the Aire region, on foot or by bike,” smiles our incorrigible chatterbox. As a Greeter, Bruno couldn’t pass up such an opportunity. Indeed, he satisfies his passion for explaining and helping visitors discover the town sometimes referred to as the “Belle du Pas de Calais”, on the border between Flanders and Artois.

With a population of 10,000, Aire-sur-la-Lys, the 3rd largest commune in Pas-de-Calais, is also remarkable for its heritage and cultural treasures. The Saint-Pierre collegiate church is listed, as is the magnificent bailliage or the elegant belfry listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Twenty-three historic monuments in the town! The whole area, which bears the hallmark of Vauban, is bathed in a unique atmosphere of water and old stones, and is full of little secrets. Andouille, celebrated in September, is in the pantheon of the best local restaurants, produced by all the charcutiers of Aix-en-Provence. Our friendly Greeter makes your mouth water. Just talking about it! He invites you to discover his corner of life as you stroll along the river Lys, mother of a city more than a thousand years old.

Bouvelinghem

Christine HAZEBROUCQ

“My passion? Hiking!” Christine Hazebroucq regularly takes to the paths that teem around her home in Bouvelinghem near Licques. Whatever the weather, the young woman needs her breath of chlorophyll. “For me, walking is vital. I don’t hike for sport’s sake, but to take the time to observe nature.”

That’s how she hopes to help all hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts discover her hilly country. Equipped with her binoculars, a book on birds, a camera and patience, Christine offers to go out and meet hares, roe deer and mushrooms for an hour, or two, or the whole day. “I leave my house and come across some paths. There’s a fabulous network of paths here. I’m not an encyclopedia, but what counts is observation. Then, to finish the walk, I know a little estaminet in Alquines that doubles as a bakery and where you can drink a hot chocolate.”

Finally, being a Greeter for Christine, who already plays nature guide with her friends and her friends’ friends, is a logical next step in her life. She trained to be a tour guide at the Drac (Direction régionale des affaires culturelles) and has just enrolled in her third year of university to become a guide-interpreter. Add to that fifteen years spent in South Africa, and you get the picture. Disconnection is guaranteed, all the more so as cell phones don’t get reception over there!

Saint-Omer

Denis XAVIER

Denis has lived in Saint-Omer for (almost) his entire life, and he knows the town like the back of his hand! To discover the medieval city with its rich heritage, cobbled streets and lively squares, all you have to do is follow him.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the public gardens, the Moulin à Café, the remains of the Abbey of Saint-Bertin… the jewels of Saint-Omer hold no secrets for him, but the most exciting part remains to wander the little-known streets and passages of the town in his company, where you sometimes come across treasures.

You’ll learn to recognize typical Audomarois houses, discover an 11th-century Romanesque church in the old quarters, notice the architectural details of the various buildings… With Denis, great history mingles with little neighborhood anecdotes. At every street corner, you can relive the Saint-Omer of his childhood, which he evokes with tenderness and humor. He likes to say that it would take him several days to show you the town!

Saint-Omer

Frédéric LEGRIS

The marais audomarois is a fascinating world with a stunning landscape that exudes a singular atmosphere. Frédéric Legris, originally from Saint-Omer, lives in the marsh, in the Yzel district.

The son of a market gardener, he criss-crosses the Audomarois marsh, which extends over 3700 hectares of land and water. Precise, he explains the difference between the boats typical of market gardeners: the bacôve is, in a way, the market gardener’s truck, while the escut is his car. From 400 in 1900, the number of market gardeners has fallen to around 40.

“I know a few market gardeners who can, during the walk, open their doors to us and show us their growing methods. Here, endive is still grown in the open ground, which is becoming rare! I go off the beaten track to help people discover the flora and fauna of the marsh. I tell the children the story of Marie Grouette, the marsh witch who catches those who get too close to the water with her groët!”

Did you know that some houses are only accessible by boat, and that the letter carrier uses this means of locomotion to make his rounds? “The marsh is another world, changing all the time whatever the season or time of day. It’s also a migration route. Birds come to land in the Romelaëre reserve, which in 2008 was classified as a national nature reserve.

“In the marsh, you can go boating, have lunch in little estaminets, sleep in gîtes… I know the local festivals, like the nautical procession that takes place at the end of July. And where to buy good vegetables!”

Rumilly

Philippe FAYEULLE

Philippe Fayeulle is more the adventurous type. With his wife, he travels around Europe in his camper van. In other words, he’s used to meeting strangers and adapting to the situation. Although he’s always on the move, his home base is in the small village of Vaudringhem, not far from Saint-Omer.

Gifted with a caustic sense of humor, he’ll be happy to share one of his passions: vertical-pole archery. “This Flemish tradition established by the Duke of Burgundy is little known. For thirty years, we’ve been part of the Archers de la Société Saint-Georges de Watterdal. I offer an initiation and baptism. Get off the beaten track and come and trample our green ‘pastures’ dotted with ‘bousats’.”

As for walks, Philippe has “twenty-five thousand of them”. A small panorama above Lottinghen is well worth the detour. The Nielles-lès-Bléquin rando-rail will delight children: pedal go-karts have been installed on disused rails, offering two original rides. The Blockhaus in Eperlecques and the Coupole in Helfaut will interest history buffs. The Maison du papier will arouse the curiosity of the whole family. You have to go to Mont Hulin, overlooking Desvres, to see the Highland cattle,” says Philippe. And why not take the opportunity to visit the Maison de la Faïence.”

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