Situated about an hour’s drive from the port of Calais, Hesdin is a small town of around 2500 people, nestled in the Seven Valleys region of Pas-de-Calais. Surrounded by rolling hills, beautiful countryside and with the river Canche running through it, Hesdin is something of a hidden gem of a lovely, traditional French town.
The town – which was originally a walled fortress built in 1553 after the old town of Hesdin was virtually destroyed by Emperor Charles V, boasts a picturesque cobblestone square with an imposing Town Hall dating back to the sixteenth century. Surrounded by cafés and small shops, this is the perfect place to sit and grab a coffee, relax, and people-watch. On Thursdays the square is filled with market stalls and people and you can buy everything from fruit and clothes to bread – the archetypal traditional French market.
The town is steeped in history and the church and the hospital are, along with the town hall, the oldest buildings in Hesdin – construction of all three was begun in 1553 when Charles V ordered the town to be moved from its old site 6km away, at what is now the tiny village of Vieil Hesdin. The traditional feel that these historic buildings bring to Hesdin is a major part of the town’s beauty.
Take a look round the town hall and the church, if you can – both boast many original features and are simply stunning. The town hall also contains many beautiful art works, including gifts from other towns, which are well worth a look.
Wandering Hesdin’s streets you really feel that you are in traditional France – from the boulangeries on every corner to the smiled “bonjour” from every person that you pass. Pop into a patisserie for a classic French fruit tart, or perhaps a more local speciality. You can be sure of a warm welcome!