The Departure: Valenciennes

By Lotuff Leather

Situated just two hours north of Paris, Valenciennes is a small, traditional French city with a big personality. At one time a textiles and coal community before being partially destroyed during WWII and rebuilt again, its architecture reflects this past: narrow brick buildings with some glassy modern structures interspersed. It’s presently become more of a center for the arts and culture, showing a remarkable ability for revival and the potential for further growth. Whether visiting here just for the day or taking more time to explore, Valenciennes is one off-the-radar place that might quickly become a favorite. 

Raspberry tart at Pâtisserie Gourmandine in Valenciennes, France

The Musée de Beaux Arts is one of the city’s primary attractions, so go here first and discover why. Mainly featuring the works of Valenciennes-born Rococo painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, Baroque pieces by Rubens and Carpeaux and collections of Flemish art — the largest in France outside of Paris — are also widespread throughout the halls. This city is known for its cuisine as well as its artists, so take a post-museum bakery break at Pâtisserie Gourmandine and try one of their specialities: the almond and candied chestnut cake and the apricot ganache chocolates are local favorites. 

Tribunal de Commerce in Valenciennes, France

Later on, there’s the Michelin-starred Le Grignotière. This modern French restaurant on the city’s edge is overseen by a young couple with a taste for the creative and a strong dedication to what they do. The two employ a talented team of only 8 people and commit to a changing menu based on in-season products and new whims, so no matter what, there’s always something new and wonderful to order. Return to the city center and conclude at Le Phenix, a spaceship of a theater that acts as host to orchestras, plays, comedy acts, and more; nearly every day is something different. 

Bring our Tripp crossbody bag along- it’s little yet resilient, just like Valenciennes.

Lotuff Leather Tripp II handbag in electric blue

Shop the Tripp