Named after Saint Audomar, who was responsible for bringing Christianity to the area, Saint-Omer is a historically rich town in the Pas-de-Calais region of France. It has existed since the 7th century when the Abbey of Saint Bertin was established and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries as a textile manufacturing hub.
Things to do in Saint-Omer
In the heart of town is the Notre-Dame-de-Saint-Omer Cathedral, which was constructed between the 13th and 16th centuries. Now designated as a Monument Historique, it is a beautifully preserved example of the Gothic architectural style that was prevalent in the region at the time. Step inside to explore the richly furnished interior and admire the astronomical clock from 1558.
Adjacent is the Saint-Omer Public Garden, a magnificent landscaped garden with tranquil walking trails and duck-filled ponds. Stroll through the traditional French garden with its topiary bushes and central fountain, then admire the photogenic waterfall within the English garden. The Saint-Omer Public Garden is also dotted with busts of notable locals, such as Louis Martel and Charles Jonnart.
Occupying an 18th-century mansion is the Hotel Sandelin Museum, where you’ll find nearly 3,000 works of art dating from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. In addition to centuries-old mosaics and religious treasures, the museum features sculptures and furnishings that reflect the tastes of 17th-century France. A highlight of the collection is “The Argument of Philosophers” by Jusepe de Ribera.
Getting around Saint-Omer
Saint-Omer is a 40-minute drive from Calais and around an hour from Lille Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Regular trains connect to the Saint-Omer railway station and the town centre is small enough to explore on foot.