French road trip part 3: Arras & Pierrefonds

In September, Dan and I went on a road trip around Northern France. You can read about parts 1 and 2 of our road trip here and here.

Having booked a few nights at a chateau quite far south of Lille, we planned for our next overnight stay to be in Compiegne, but we decided it would be nice to stop off at Arras on the way, to stretch our legs a little.

Arras France

We wandered around the cobbled Place des Heros and Grand Place squares, taking in the French architecture and browsing the market stalls set up all around the town. Due to the big market taking place that day, Arras was a hive of activity.

Arras belfry and town hall

The town hall and belfry really stood out on the square. You can walk up to the top of the belfry for a view of the town, but we decided we better get back on the road after a little wander around and head towards our next destination.

When planning our road trip, I had discovered that Pierrefonds was located not too far away from Compiegne, and it looked like a good place to look around with a chateau and lake to walk around, so after checking in to our hotel, we were back on the road again.

As soon as we neared Pierrefonds, we spotted the impressive chateau, and we couldn’t wait to get closer to such an enchanting building.

Pierrefonds proved to be very busy, so when we finally found somewhere to park the car, we made our way up the hill towards the chateau.

Pierrefonds Chateau


I find that old buildings can sometimes be a little creepy, and standing right in front of this domineering building and looking up at it, it was pretty breathtaking, if a little spooky! It certainly looks like something out of a film, and so it isn’t much of a surprise to know that it was featured in the BBC series Merlin.

Pierrefonds Chateau

You can walk around the inside of the chateau for a fee, but we decided to enjoy a slow walk all the way around the outside of the chateau and in the grounds, which was completely free to do.

Catapult at Pierrefonds Chateau

View from Pierrefonds Chateau

Being perched on a hill means that beautiful views of the town can be seen from all sides of the chateau.

Pierrefonds Chateau

We wandered back through the town, watching people riding swan pedalos across the lake.

Pierrefonds lake

We headed back to the hotel and found a nearby Leon de Bruxelles restaurant. Having never eaten at this chain before, we decided to give it a try.

Dan opted to have burger and chips, whilst I thought I would be daring and try the seafood salad.

Leon de Bruxelles seafood salad

I’m not a huge fish fan so I think maybe I was being a little optimistic with how much fish there was! At least I had been brave and tried something different for once though! But I decided that next time, I may stick with the safe option.

After a wonderful day sight-seeing and travelling, we were looking forward to the next stage of our road trip, staying in a chateau in rural France.

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