French 5 | 03.26.21

In this week’s edition of French 5, I’m featuring an underrated region of France that I hold near and dear to my heart as it’s where Gunther and I met: Les Hauts-de-France!

Welcome to the fifth edition of French 5, where I share a glimpse into what I love about France through language, places, food and drink, arts and culture, as well as a random fun fact. I will also highlight one blog or social media account that features French content. If you have any feedback or ideas of what you’d like to see or who should be featured, please leave your comment below. 

01 Language || Attraper un coup d’aile de moulin

I love expressions that are grounded in a specific geographical location. This regional expression pays homage to its landscape of Flanders-inspired windmills. Back in the day, millers had a reputation of being somewhat societal outsiders, even a bit crazy. Literally translating to being hit by a wing of a windmill, this saying means to be crazy. 

02 Place || Lille

Lille is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region and the fourth largest city in France after Paris, Lyon and Marseilles. Historically a booming textile centre, today Lille is a vibrant metropolitan city. In the heart of the French Flanders, the architectural style is similar to that of neighbouring Belgium and the Netherlands with the prominent use of red and brown brick. Every year the city hosts the Braderie de Lille, the largest flea market in Europe. 

03 Food & Drink || Maroilles

The best cheeses are often the stinkiest, and Maroilles is no exception. This cow’s milk cheese named after the city in which it is made is a delicious, but pungent northern specialty. Popularized by the Dany Boon movie, Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis, it is a must try if you can get your hands on a block of it. Don’t let its strong door fool you, its soft centre is a real treat!

04 Arts & Culture || Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont

Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont, or The African Doctor, is comedy-drama film based on the life of Seyolo Zantoco. Set in the 1970s, the story follows Zantoco, a recent medical school graduate, who turns down a job to be the Zaire President’s personal physician for a job in a small town in rural Northern France. The doctor and his family face numerous challenges as they adapt to life in their new home. The film was co-written by Zantoco’s son, musician Kamini, who catapulted to fame for his rap song titled Marly-Gomont. A must-see! Watch the movie trailer and check out Kamini’s hit song.

05 Fun Fact || Mussels

Between the massive crowds and mollusk shells lining the streets, it’s hard to move a muscle in Lille during the first week of Septmeber. Pre-Covid, the Braderie de Lille was one of the largest gatherings of people in Europe.  At the annual street market, 500 tonnes of mussels are consumed. Along with those delicious mussels, attendees enjoy 30 tonnes of frites and tens of thousands of litres of beer. But what happens to all of those discarded mussel shells? Recently, a company specializing in recycled materials has started giving a second life to the empty shells by using them to create floor tiles. In the company’s initial year they produced 400 square metres of floor tile with four tonnes of shells. 

Follow Friday || @region_hautsdefrance

This instagram is the official account of the Hauts-de-France region. They feature beautiful images from the stunning coastline and impressive cathedrals to the idyllic countryside. Give them a follow for a taste of Northern France.

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