Julian Lucas

Places to visit | Eating out in northern France

Julian Lucas - your guide to eating and drinking on theotherside

The Flemish monks of Leffe Abbey next to the River Meuse (in what is now Belgium) had a brewery from the 13th century until Napoleonic times. Today a modern commercial brewery uses the abbey's name for a popular beer.

The beer region of France
The north is the one part of France where beer rather than wine is the traditional drink - a custom shared with its historic neighbour Belgium.

Flanders has a legacy of beer-brewing developed by the monks of its great monasteries in the Middle Ages.

Flemish monks developed the idea of flavouring beers with a bitter-tasting essence from the fruits of the hop plant. They introduced this idea to Kent.

The monasteries were closed during the French Revolution, but the skills lived on in countless small local breweries.

Hops were introduced to Kent from Flanders
small brewery
One of Nord/Pas-de-Calais' small artisinal breweries renewing ancient traditions


Big Breweries
As in Britain, since the 'fifties industrial breweries producing mass-produced beers in enormous quantities have taken over the market - driving the small local brwers out of business, and converting drinkers' tastes to lager-type beers promoted under international brand-names with heavy advertising.

There are several big breweries in Lille and saint-Omer that welcome coach parties of visitors. Back to top

Small breweries and Real Ale
More recently, there has been a resurgance of interest in Nord Pas-de-Calais' equivalent of "real ale".

There are now a growing number of small local brwereies you can visit, and enjoy hand-crafted beers brewed in small batches from local ingredients using traditional methods and recipes.


Places to visit:
'T Kasteelhof Estaminet - traditional Flemish bar, in Cassel
Estaminet "Vierpot" - traditional Flemish bar next to a windmill in a magnificent country setting
Saint-Omer Brewery
Small breweries:
Beck Fram Brewery, nr Bailleul
Brasserie au Baron, Bavay
Esquelbecq Brewery near Wormhout
St-Amand Brewery

Related background information
History of Flanders



Eating out in northern France
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