I am staying in Brussels for a week and considering taking a one or two day trip down into Northern France. As I have not travelled in this area before I am looking for suggestions for some interesting possibilities. I like villages, markets, food, wine, gardens - well most things really! Thank you for any suggestions.
May I suggest a trip to Lille, which is a very charming town in Northern France. We adore it. The architecture there will make you feel as if you had traveled back in time to Old France. You would love the Grand Place and Vieux-Lille (old Lille) and you can see small shops, indoor and outdoor cafes, fountain, and walk on cobblestones. Lille has a zoo, a natural history museum, a number of wonderful museums, and incredible old architecture. Just walking around you feel as if you are in an open air museum. There are plenty of food and wine choices- take your pick. If you love impressive old churches, the Notre Dame de la Troille will make you feel like you are soaring. We like staying at the L'Hermitage Gantois Hotel in Lille.
And in Belgium itself, in addition to Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent, look into Tournai. It's an interesting town in French-speaking Belgium that doesn't get many visitors, but is still nice.
I agree with the above suggestion on going to Lille, the principal city in Northern France. Lille... I've been there a couple of times always as a day trip from Arras. The interesting area in the north lies between Arras and Lille. With two days max and a rental car, you can very well see both Lille and Arras. You don't mention it but the WW I history "stuff" are to be seen around Arras, the site of the General HQ of the British Army and the horrific battles in 1917 and 1918, likewise in 1940. If just for war history, I would choose Arras, otherwise if you basically only have one day, Lille is a better choice.