After over a week of dreary weather in Lille, I woke up to a clear, blue sky and sunshine which called for a new, outdoor adventure on an urgent notice. 😁

Having planned to start writing about the gems in the northern region of France for this blog (thus, boosting my motivation to explore the region where I live a bit more), I immediately thought about doing a day trip to a “new” French town I have never been.

St. Omer is popular for its wide network of man-made marshes called Le Marais, where you can rent a small boat to explore the town by water.

Torn between visiting the French towns of Cassel and Saint Omer, I ultimately chose the latter as it is a nearer from Lille and a larger town (which meant it has a McDonald’s just in case I suddenly need to do some online work or charge my phone 😅).

So below is how I spent a day at St. Omer.

How to Visit St. Omer from Lille by Public Transport?

Located about 65 kilometres away, travelling by car to St. Omer from Lille takes about 1 hour.

However, if you’re a budget conscious traveller like me, you can reach St. Omer by using car sharing apps like BlaBlaCar or by a regional TER train from Gare de Lille-Flandres train station in Lille. The return trip cost me 19 EUR but I have a discount card from SNCF, so might need to pay a little more.

The trip lasts for about an hour (I had a connection at Hazebrouck) — or just 45 minutes, if you are lucky to take a TER train that passes directly through St. Omer.

A TER train leaving the Gare de Lille-Flandres in Lille.

The terminus of the TER train that pass through St. Omer is Calais Ville in the coastal city of Calais.

I had a train connection at the town of Hazebrouck.

As expected, the journey across the plains of northern France was scenic — especially thanks to the excellent weather.

Thank goodness for the nice weather!
Arriving at Saint Omer train station.

Is St. Omer Worth Visiting?

Well, if you’re after interesting sights: let these pictures do the talking first then I’ll give my opinion below. Do note that these places are much better seen in person than just seeing them in these photographs.

Walking along the peaceful streets of Saint Omer. Look how spotless and blue the sky was!

I visited St. Omer on a Monday. When I arrived at the St. Omer train station, I immediately set my sights on the nearby ruins of St. Bertin Abbey and went there on foot. As I visited during spring, the view of the ruins in the backdrop was made beautiful by the trees full of pink flowers on the foreground.

Ruins of St. Bertin Abbey near St. Omer train station.
Here’s how the St. Bertin Abbey looks like in a video to better appreciate what I have seen.

From the ruins, I walked to a McDonald’s located about 20 minutes away on foot for a quick lunch and most importantly (as I mentioned earlier), to do some quick online work and charge my mobile phones. The McDonald’s at St. Omer has plenty of power plugs so would-be visitors take note!

Some post-war landmark located near the public gardens.

After a quick lunch, I continued my town stroll towards the direction of St. Omer’s public gardens. It turned out to be scenic when I arrived there.

The lovely Jardin Public de Saint-Omer.
Maybe I should have visited much later when the flowers are all blooming in full blast.
This French gardens could easily look like the spectacular garden in Salzburg, Austria with a few manicures here and there.

Afterwards, I headed to the town centre to see some old historical buildings.

The Theatre de Saint-Omer. In person, this white building prominently stands out in this square.
The road leading to the Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer. It looks really ancient when seen from the outside.
Church backyard of Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saint-Omer.
View of St. Omer’s old town centre.

There were many restaurants and cafés in Saint Omer but most of them seemed to be closed when I visited there on a Monday. Either there was a holiday and I “did not receive the memo” or everyone went on holidays en masse.

Strange indeed.

Next, I walked towards the direction of the marshes in the western part of town to follow my curiousity.

Le Maison de Marais building marks the part of St. Omer where the man-made marshes begin.
Moulin de l’Aile near Parc de la Maison in Saint Omer. It appears that this trail leads to the Marais (marshes). Unfortunately, it demands more time to explore that part of St. Omer.
Obligatory selfie… or I haven’t been here. 😂
View of the Canal de Neufossé from the bridge of Paserrelles des Marronniers.
So many places to relax by the canal in St. Omer.
The main canal in St. Omer, France.

After a nice day spent in St. Omer, I relished the wonderful views of the journey back to Lille from my train window.

Oh, Northern France is such a wonderful region.

Would you visit Saint-Omer?

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