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St Bertin’s Abbey was the monastery built in the 7th century when the Benedictine monks first came to the area to convert the locals towards Christianity. Today only the remains are left but it is well worth a visit at the lower end of town. They later built a college and a chapel , the later of which was rebuilt in the 13th century and now stands as the magnificent Gothic Cathedral (1561).
There are a few other churches and chapels that you may want to visit in and around St Omer, such as St Sepulchre which is renowned for its stone spire and stained-glass windows. Museums are also to be enjoyed, the archaeological museum can be found in previous royal lodgings or there is the refurbished Sandelin Museum with over 5,000 items from the Renaissance to the 19th century.
St Omer has been designed with wide streets and spacious squares, the most impressive of which is Place Foch which is home to the Town Hall, where you will find a picture gallery and a theatre. There are harbours just inside and out of the city limits and even some of the original fortifications and ramparts remain to the west of the town.
Travel just outside St Omer and you will find some more sights to enjoy whether the attraction is the military heritage of the Eperlecques Bunker or the production warehouses for glass, beer and gin, even just driving though the countryside you are sure to see a number of buildings and monuments that will catch your eye.
Read more on this destination in the AA Key Guide to France
Must-see attractions in St Omer
Place Foch - This impressive town square is home to the equally impressive 19th century town hall. Traditional markets are held here every Saturday morning, making way for colourful displays, showing off some of the region's best produce.
Notre-Dame Cathedral - Widely noted as one of France's most spectacular cathedrals, the Notre-Dame took an astonishing three centuries to complete. Inside its beautiful interior you will find the famous Deposition of Christ, alongside one of the oldest clock faces in the country.
Audomarois Marshes - For unspoilt tranquillity, head to the Audomarois Marshes, France's only remaining cultivated wetlands. Listed as a nature reserve, these marshes are home to some beautiful flora and fauna. Explore the area on one of its many trails.
Eperlecques Bunker - The foundations of one of the WWII rocket bases, located in the forests of Eperlecques. Listed as an ancient memorial, this 22m high bunker was built and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1943 and is now a monument to the war.
Museum of Fine Art - An intriguing museum, close to the stunning Notre-Dame Cathedral. It houses a huge collection of ancient weapons, furniture and traditional tapestries, as well as beautiful art collections and costume exhibits.
St. Bertin's Abbey - This magnificent French monastery was founded in the 7th century and spectacularly rebuilt in the 13th century. Much of the stone has been plundered over the years but its remains are well worth a visit.
The Musée Sandelin - A stunning Parisian-style mansion built in 1776 for the Countess of Fruges is now also a museum exhibiting a range of displays relating to the history of the town and fine arts.
Brasserie de Saint-Omer - Originally opened in 1866, the brewery was bought by Andre Pecquer in 1985 who updated the production but maintained many of the original traditions to produce a light French lager producing over 600million 25cl bottles every year.
Arques Glassworks - In a small town next to St Omer you will find the largest employer in the region. The glassworks was opened in 1825 to make demijohns for winemakers. Today you can take a tour around the visitors centre and the small museum.
Distillerie Persyn - In 1812 a distillery opened at Houlle near St Omer, to produce gin to supply English smugglers looking to avoid the taxes on spirits. Take a tour around to hear the stories and then enjoy a tasting at the end.