Discovery Tour

Before choosing among the thousand kilometres of possible excursions on foot, horseback, bicycle or even donkey, make a general tour starting your walk from Avesnes-sur-Helpe. This pretty sub-prefecture, hanging on a cliff, is known for its dumpling, flavoured with herbs cheese, its elegant mansions of the eighteenth century and a superb college that hold the upper town. This church of the fifteenth, whose bell tower silhouette ends with a bulb to sixty feet high, contains two monumental altarpieces Louis XV and Louis Watteau paintings. A walk in the Vauban fortifications gives access to the door Mons (seventeenth century), the remains of the Tower of Gossuin (1100), the bastion of the Queen and her underground rooms.

From here you can reach the southern Avesnois industrial enclave whose glorious past is cleverly presented in several branches of the museum of Avesnois:

  • the textile museum and social life in Fourmies. In a spinning built in 1876, discover the manufacture of threads and fabrics from operating machines. Daily life is evoked by reconstruction places to live and work;
  • the house of hedgerow in Sains-du-Nord. In an old mansion and its outbuildings, the house of the grove offers a better understanding of the natural components of Avesnois, the work of the grassland and a reconstructed forge. The museum shop invites you to discover the local products;
  • the museum of beautiful woods in Felleries. Housed in an old mill that still produces flour, it houses the testimony of estimated crafts in Avesnois: bushel or woodturning.

Go and see the glass museum of Sars-Poteries. This museum has a collection of « botched », contemporary sculptures of glass, acquired through donations and a policy of acquisition of representative works.

Do not miss the tourist resort of Val Joly, set around a lake of 180 hectares; healing assured for the whole family!

See also the Sars-Poteries watermill Delmotte, the only one in the region to have retained all of its mechanism. Typical of the eighteenth century, the great gear set in motion by the turbine (and until 1958 by a bucket wheel) leads three pairs of millstones. The system of elevator and transportation of products by bucket belt is also operated by hydraulic force.

Then here you are in Maubeuge whose walls are home to a famous zoo. Fort Leveau, built in 1883, is part of a set of several forts intended as a defense of the garrison of Maubeuge. Partially destroyed in 1914, its main structures remained in good condition and allow the public to appreciate the architectural techniques deployed during construction. The fort houses a museum dedicated to the First World War.

Going due west, you reach Bavay which the Gallo-Roman city is unique in France. Its ancient forum is a must-see with its archaeological collections composed of ceramics, glassware, tools, ornaments… tangible traces of everyday life of the Romans. See also hypocaust heating system used in the Gallo-Roman baths dating from the first century AD.

Now travel to the Mormal forest, the largest of the region; the forest that Louis XIV preferred and was reserved for his hunting pleasures. It is said that there lies… Gargantua.

After these beautiful forests, here comes Maroilles, its mill and dancing kiosk. Here is produced the only AOC cheese in the North of France, the Maroilles and its little brother the Dauphin. Taste a flamiche, local pie made with Maroilles cheese. After this gastronomic interlude, end your tour with Le Quesnoy, an impressive fortress with walls established by Vauban. The conservation status of its fortifications makes Le Quesnoy the second fortified site in France. The set is a historical monument since 1942. There is 12 km of linear walls, including an intact fortified wall of 3.5 km in circumference, decorated with an ingenious system of ditches flood.