Hesdin lies in the heart of the Seven Valleys at the confluence of the Canche and the Ternoise, south east of Montreuil sur Mer and 56 kms from Arras. The Seven Valleys is a charming area, remarkably unspoilt with a wealth of cosy restaurants and vibrant markets where local fare is produced with pride. The Seven Valleys are easily reached from the Channel Ports and is on the railway line which runs from Boulogne to Arras.
The impressive town hall with its belfry and ornate façade overlooks the main square, Place d’Armes where a bustling market is held every Thursday. Built in the Renaissance style, between 1563 and 1629, the ornate and striking balcony bears the Spanish coat of arms as well as many figures and other coats of arms. Adjoining the Balcony is the Office du Tourisme. There are many charming views from the bridges of the Canche wending its way through the town under the bridges over which the cobbled streets run.
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Originally under the jurisdiction of the Counts of Artois and subsequently the Dukes of Bourgogne, Hesdin enjoyed a peaceful existence until Charles 5th of Spain ordered the destruction of the old town and rebuilt the existing town, some 6 kms away from the original site which was on top of a hill. In 1639 the French laid siege to the town and under Louise 13th, it was recaptured. In August 2003, the townsfolk celebrated the 450th anniversary of their rebirth in 1553 by the ‘Fete de Cochon Rose’, the festival of the Pink Pig.
Typical of many towns in the North, with its Flemish style architecture, reminiscent of that to be seen in Arras, Hesdin also boasts the 16th Century Church of Notre Dame, begun in 1565 and completed in 1685. The door of Notre Dame is listed, also in the Renaissance style. There is a marked contrast between the stone surrounding the door, and the brick gothic part of the church, set on its concrete foundations. The richly coloured stained glass windows are amongst the most remarkable in Northern France.
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Distance from Coquelles – 1 hour 15mins – 99 Kms (Approx)
Tourist Office, Place d’Armes, 62140. Tel 0033 (0)3 21 86 71 69 / Fax 0033 (0)3 21 86 04 06 www.paysdes7vallees.com
Copyright text : Sarah Francis