The food and drink of Saint-Omer

  • Food & drink
  • France
  • 6 min read
The food and drink of Saint-Omer

From distilleries to breweries, traditional eateries to riverside cafés, Saint-Omer has many attractions for lovers of food and drink. Flemish flavours and strong spirits are on the menu here!

The food and drink of Saint-Omer

From its wartime heritage to its wonderful wetlands, Saint-Omer is the perfect place to start your French holiday

The Saint-Omer region is close to French Flanders, and the Flemish influence on what people eat and drink here is considerable, from the beers to the restaurants to even the languages in which some of the menus are written. There are craft distilleries and breweries to explore, and cosy ‘estaminets’ to sample traditional local fare. 

It is only a drive of just over an hour (with tolls) to Saint-Omer from the LeShuttle Calais Terminal, so your gastronomic tour of this charming town and surrounding area in northern France can begin sooner than you think!

Visit the Persyn Distillery

A spirit bottle and box with a label – Houlle, Genièvre de FranceFor a true taste of Saint-Omer, don’t leave without a bottle of ‘Genièvre de Houlle’ (Credit: Distillerie Persyn, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you want to find the spirit of Saint-Omer – more specifically, the 49% proof spirit – start at the Persyn Distillery. Here, in the village of Houlle is one of only three ‘genièvre’ distilleries left in France (there was once more than 70). They have made the juniper-based liquor (very much like gin) here since 1812. Miners used to drink it for its fortifying effects, and with that alcohol content, you can taste why! 

The process of making ‘Genièvre de Houlle’ has barely changed in two centuries, and the distillery is still in the hands of the same family. Tours are arranged by appointment or via the distillery’s website, and take around an hour and a half. Included is a film, a tasting session, a tour of the distilling and production rooms and a miniature juniper tree as a gift. 

Distillerie Persyn, 19 Rte de Watten, 62910 Houlle 

Take a tour of the Goudale Brewery

Goudale (literally meaning ‘good ale’) is a hoppy, Flemish-like beer that has won numerous awards. It was originally brewed in Douai near Lens but ‘brasserie Goudale’ is now in Arques in the heart of the Saint-Omer region. With over 100 years of brewing heritage there is plenty to interest the beer connoisseur, even if they are new to this particular ale. 

Your tour starts with a short film tracing the history of brasserie Goudale, before professional guides take your group around the brewing rooms of the large modern site, explaining the brewing and bottling process. Tastings of various beers at the Brasserie Bar complete the tour, which can be booked via the brewery.

Brasserie Goudale, 365 Ave ISAAC Newton, 62510 Arques

The brewery at the Abbey of Clairmarais

More joy for beer drinkers lies just outside Saint-Omer at the brewery of the Abbey of Clairmarais. While the abbey itself is now just a ruin, a victim of the French Revolution, a recently opened brewery on the abbey farm has revived the tradition that was once undertaken by the Cistercian monks that lived here. 

The Clairmarais abbey brewery in the old sheepfold uses locally-grown barley, hops, herbs and spices, to produce two authentic Belgian abbey beers. The Abbaye de Clairmarais Blonde and Triple are widely available in local bars, restaurants and shops and more than worth a taste. 

Abbaye de Clairmarais, 1 Municipal Road of the Walls, 62500 Clairmarais

Glasses of craft beers in a tasting rack

Sample the cheeses and terrines of the Mont Vert Farm

Next stop on your gastronomic tour takes you a little further afield, towards the Opal coast. 

Around 40 minutes drive from Saint-Omer is La Ferme du Vert – a former Napoleonic farm in the heart of the Boulonnais countryside. The farm has been renovated and is now a luxury hotel and restaurant, but farming still goes on here. The cheese dairy is run by the Bernard brothers, using milk from local dairies. Their artisan cheeses can be found served at the farm’s shop, along with Normandy grass-raised beef and deer meat, terrines, confits, butter and milk – but bring your own containers!

La Ferme du Vert, 555 Rue du Vert, 62720 Wierre-Effroy 

The Bourdon Biscuit Factory

That’s ‘Bourdon’, if you were thinking of another type of biscuit! In fact the Bourdon family makes waffles, not biscuits, and has done commercially since 1962 in the Saint-Omer region. The business has an excellent reputation and enjoys the ‘Saveurs en Or’ label showing that it favours working with local suppliers. 

The factory outlet in Helfaut has a shop where a wide range of the company’s produce can be bought, from thin and pastry waffles to Liège chocolate and pure butter waffles. Collection boxes and licensed gift boxes are also available.

Bourdon Biscuiterie Artisanale, Patis’Nord, ZA de la Fontaine Colette, Hamlet of Bilques, 62570 Helfaut

The Chais Winery

Le Chais is a popular wine merchants with two stores – one at Boulogne-sur-Mer and the other just on the outskirts of Saint-Omer itself. You will find a wide range of fine wines, champagnes, spirits and craft beers on sale, all at competitive prices. 

The staff really know their wines, and are always willing to help if you need some personalised advice on what wine to buy. There is a free tasting service, and gift boxes and wine baskets are available. You can click and collect your order via the Le Chais website

Le Chais, 37 Rte des Bruyères, 62219 Longuenesse 

The Hoppy Craft specialist beer store

Saint-Omer is certainly a town for those who like an ale or two! The Hoppy Craft Bar and Beer Cellar is something of a dream for beer enthusiasts. It is both a bar – with a pleasant seating area, pub games, snack menu and a mouth-watering selection of craft beers on tap – and a cellar. 

Taste exceptional beers at the bar and then shop for them, if you can choose from the dizzying selection available. A wide range of Belgian beers, IPAs, stouts, fruit beers and local abbey beers are available to buy from the store.  

The Hoppy Craft Bar/Cave à Bières, 57 Ave du Maréchal Joffre, 62500 Saint-Martin-lez-Tatinghem 

Estaminets – Traditional Flemish restaurants

Tables and chairs in a bar or restaurant with vines and old pans hanging down from the ceiling as decoration

A traditional ‘estaminet’ offers hearty food and a warm welcome (Credit: ‘Estaminet du Wouwenberghoff’, by Pierre André Leclercq, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Flemish influence in Saint-Omer is felt in food too, and you will find a number of ‘estaminets’ serving traditional Flemish fare. The food is hearty and simple, the surroundings usually rustic and unpretentious, but these are great places to eat. They are reasonably priced too, with a wonderful atmosphere. On the menu will be dishes like sausages, roast meats and tarts, usually served with local wines and beers brewed a few miles away. 

‘Les 3 Caves’ is one such restaurant, which is very popular with locals and has a good reputation with tourists. It does a roaring trade especially on market day (Saturday). 

Les 3 Caves, 18 Place du Marechal Foch, 62500 Saint-Omer

Discover the bowls of the Marais

No visit to Saint-Omer is complete without venturing onto the Audomarois marshes, the only remaining cultivated wetlands in France. La Maison du Marais is a museum and exhibition centre where most boat rides begin and end, but after you return why not head to Les Bols du Marais, a charming terrace café inside the centre? You can choose your own bowls of local fruits and vegetables, meats, fruit and cheeses – many from the market gardens you will pass on the marshes. 

Les Bols du Marais, Ave du Maréchal Joffre, 62500 Saint-Martin-lez-Tatinghem 

Enjoy the food and drink of Saint-Omer with LeShuttle

If Saint-Omer is your first stop after arriving in France from our Calais terminal, you are in for a gastronomic treat. Your tour starts with a crossing in just 35 minutes from Folkestone via Le Shuttle.

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