Cassel travel guide

Cities and towns

About Cassel

Cassel in Nord Picardy is a charming hill-top town that overlooks French Flanders and is the home of the legendary giants Reuze-Papa and Reuze-Maman.

The highest point in Flanders, Cassel has views stretching across French Flanders and out to include the south coast of England, the North Sea, and the belfry of Bruges on a good day. Though the town dates back to Celtic times, it was the Romans who realised Cassel's strategic position and the miltary opportunities it afforded by builidng 7 roads to the hill, 6 of which you can still find here today. Cassel has seen much war and has had several important battles fought on its soil between the Flemish, French and Dutch. It saw more war during the 20th century as the head quarters of General Foch during the Battle of Ypres in WW1 and much of the town was destroyed during fighting in WW2 as British forces put up a defensive screen to protect the evacuation of Dunkirk. The town is known for its Flemish tradition of having local legendary giants and Reuze-Papa and Reuze-Maman, along with their children, are carried in procession at Easter and followed by dancers and celebration. Flanders is universally known for its windmills and in the 17th and 18th centuries there were over 3,000 mills in the region. Today, the wooden Moulin Cassel is still a working mill and is open for visits. You can even buy a bag of freshly milled flour when you leave!

Cassel has 2 museums that are worth a look during your visit here.The Musée de Flandres, housed inside the beautiful Hôtel de la Noble-Coeur, contains works from the Flemish masters, as well as artworks by contemporary artists and extensive collections of rare and original religious, historical, geographical and ethnographic works. There is also a small museum looking at daily life in the town during the 19th and 20th centuries. Spend some time admiring the Gothic Collégiale Notre Dame de la Crypte, the town's main church and a listed historical monument. There are several festivals celebrated here with the giant's procession at Easter, the Cassel cornemuses, a bagpipes festival with traditional music and country dancing on the second weekend of June, and a medieval festival at the Moulin Cassel on the first weekend of July. A storytelling festival is hosted throughout July and August with hikes and meals with storytellers. Hiking, biking and horseriding are great outdoors pursuits in this hilly region or why not relax and enjoy the landscape from the sky in a  hot air balloon ride? The best views on land are from the garden Mont des Récollets at the summit of the hill.

Pay a visit to the workshops of local craftsmen and artisans including a wood carver and buy some of their wonderful works. There are also bakeries and confectionaries where you can pick up some treats such as betises de Cambrai sweets, mint flavoured boiled sweets with a strip of caramel. Dishes such as potjevleesch, a white meat terrine of chicken, veal and rabbit in apic, and waterzoi, a fish or chicken stew in a creamy sauce are popular. Enjoy your meal with some locally brewed beer or cider.

Why visit Cassel?

  • Moulin Cassel
  • The Countryside
  • WW1 and WW2 Sites
  • Musée de Flandres 

Overview

  • Country: France
  • Region: Nord Picardy
  • Department: Nord
  • Population: 2,300
  • Coordinates: 50.802355,2.486146

Coordinates shown are based on the WGS84 system, please check driving directions before departing.

Nearby attractions

The first museum dedicated to the study of Flanders' rich cultural identity, the Musée de Flandres contains lots of artworks from Flemish masters, contemporary paintings by international artists and many other objects.

A working 18th century mill, the Moulin Cassel is a wooden windmill that is open to the public and still grinds flour and expresses linseed oil.

Only completed in 1999, Lille cathedral is a modern cathedral with a stunning white marble facade. Although the first stone was laid in 1854, the effects of WW1 and WW2 meant that most of its construction was not finished...

LaM

The LaM is a large museum just outside of Lille that is filled with works of modern art, contemporary art and art brut ('outsider art'). With more than 4,500 works by artists including Picasso, Modigliani, Deacon, Messenger,...

Places to visit nearby

Lille in Nord Picardy is a cultured city with a volatile history that has seen many European clashes on its soil. It sits near the Belgian border in the area formerly known as Flanders.

Dieppe in Normandy is a bustling fishing port with a long and eventful history that became France's first seaside resort in the 1800s.