Summer in the French Countryside
The south of France is pretty well known for it’s beautiful countryside, it’s amazing weather and it’s incredibly serene vibes but who would’ve thought with the summer sun rolling in that the North of France could offer the exact same thing (almost 😉)?
The Village of Ascq, France
Ascq is a tiny village situated just between the northern city of Lille and the Belgian border, known for it’s endless fields of wheat and it’s particularly calm and beautiful countryside.
For such a tiny village it also has a particularly gruesome history, namely that of the 1944 “Ascq Massacre”, in which the Nazis killed 86 men in the village.
The Ascq Massacre
A train carrying members of the Nazi SS organisation (who had set off for Normandy) was approaching Ascq station when a bomb exploded, causing the train to derail.
The SS commander on board, Walter Hauck, ordered the Nazis to search all the houses on both sides of the track and arrest every male they found.
When they found a man they pulled him out of his home and stood him next to the railway line, executing every single one.
A Real Tragedy
In all they shot 70 men in the houses, 16 in the village, and then later executed another six more who they further arrested and charged even after the massacre.
Although this event is a terribly sad and cruel moment in history, the memory of such a crime doesn’t detract from the peace and tranquillity of Ascq’s countryside, and it’s hard to believe that anything so brutal could have happened in such a quiet and typically French village.
Le Musée de Plein Air
Once you’re through the wheat fields (where you’ll also see rabbits, rats and hundreds of bright blue dragonflies) you come to the Musée de Plein Air; an open-air museum that has dismantled various old houses in northern France and rebuilt them all in one beautiful landscape with the aim of educating visitors on the history of the region of northern France.
Northern France is historically an agricultural and industrial region, and this is made even more clear by all the stuff there is to see in the Musée de Plein Air.
Included in the musée is a mini farm (with a sleeping pig and a huge, fat rabbit); open-view ateliers where people still work in the old trades (such as ironmongery and building old wooden-games), and even a “medicinal” garden where every plant growing in it has it’s own use (including a marshmallow plant which I learnt you can boil in water and it actually makes marshmallow!!).
There is so much to see and learn about how the region of northern France has operated over time, and how it has developed.
After easily passing 4 hours there, I realised I had sunburn from being out in the sun all day (whoops!) in addition to approximately 20 mosquito bites (I’m mildly allergic to mosquitos so it looked like I had a strange skin condition 😂 ).
But just walking around in the nature is one of my favourite things; looking at bugs, watching butterflies fly past, smelling flowers, having a picnic…. a perfect day in the French countryside!