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Cassel voted France’s Favourite Village 2018

Cassel in the Hauts-de-France has been voted “France’s Favourite Village” (Le Village Préféré des Français) in the seventh annual edition of the TV contest, broadcast by channel France 2.

Cassel - which is only around a dozen kilometres from the Belgian border - won out from the 14 candidates in the contest, becoming the first commune from Hauts-de-France to triumph in the competition.

Until now, winners of the competition have come from just three departments: Occitanie, Brittany, and Grand Est.

The contest seeks to celebrate French villages, especially rewarding those that are exceptionally beautiful, well-kept, of historical significance, and/or that demonstrate excellent community spirit.

Cassel itself has 2,300 inhabitants, and includes a departmental museum of art, a Flanders museum, an old working windmill, and a historic Jesuits college.

Somewhat curiously, the village is also the owner-caretaker of two “giants” - human-like models standing around six metres tall, made of wood, papier mache, painted card, and wicker - named Reuze-Papa and Reuze-Maman.

Dating back to the 1800s, these two precious figures were honoured by Unesco World Heritage in 2005, and are usually held in the Flanders Museum, only coming out for annual carnivals and processions, such as Easter and Mardi Gras.

Cassel has become the seventh winner of the contest, succeeding 2017 winner Kaysersberg (Haut-Rhin).

Mont Saint-Michel, which is also honoured by UNESCO World Heritage, was the favourite to win this year before television broadcast began, but it came in just fifth place, apparently failing to win over the watching and voting viewers.

Running since 2012, the contest has so far crowned Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (Occitanie, 2012), Eguisheim (Grand Est, 2013), Cordes-sur-Ciel (Occitanie, 2014), Ploumanac’h (Bretagne, 2015), Rochefort-en-Terre (Bretagne, 2017), Kaysersberg (Grand Est), and, of course, Cassel (Hauts-de-France, 2018).

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