Archive for January 15th, 2019

January 15, 2019

Cambrai, the Nord in Hauts de France!

And continuing this brief tour of Northern France dear to me I take you again to my family civic duty town of Cambrai, in the Nord department 59 of the Hauts de France region. This is a town very often by passed by visitors.

I have told you before that my dear late wife Martine oldest brother lives not far from here in a smaller town and all their adminitrative duties are done here in Cambrai .So naturally, when visiting the bro, we were taken here way back in 1990. We have several times afterward even if not a real tourist town. Cambrai is nice and has a nice history to it.

I like to tell you a bit more on Cambrai and hopefully you take the drive or train to see it. It is nice as in my belle France! To recap from my previous post

Lets go over to Cambrai, where my family goes to have their regional govt needs.  Obviously no hotels and little restos as it is close to home, so the places to see are the Cathédrale Notre Dame, built 1696-1702. a classic example of the Louis XV architecture and an icon Notre Dame de Grâce from 1492 still venerated ,it is at Place Jean Paul II. The Chapelle des Jésuites, built 1678-1694. Considered one of the best jewels of the baroque art form in France, it is at Place du Saint Sépulcre. The Citadelle built by emperor Charles V in 1543 ,it is at blvd Paul Bezin.Chateau de Selles ar rue Selles, one of the best kept example of the Middle Ages. The must Musée Militaire de Cambrai, retracing the history of the 1st infantry regiment of France fighting in from 1870, WWI,and WWII. It is the oldest regiment in France and in Christianity!!! it is at Cour de la Manutention, Rue des Capucins. By ave de la Victoire you can still the see the entrance gate to the city from Paris or the Porte de Paris, built around 1339 ,it was last renovated in 1904. Not really a sight but a mouthful are the two culinary institutions in town known for ages of all sorts, these are the Chocolaterie Diot, at  189 avenue Georges Nuttin near the commerce park of  ZC de Cora,where there is also a supermarket Cora. then you have what my kids grew up on the candies of Cambrai better known as the Bétise de Cambrai ,they are part of the culinary inventory of France and official candy of parc Asterix near Paris. There are located as you enter the city from Paris, at the industrial park ZI and you can order it here or at any store in Cambrai or the nord or even in Paris.

Here is a webpage in French with a nice video on how the candy mistakes of Cambrai are done ; bétise= mistake in the creation of this jewel of French gastronomy. Living heritage of France site on the Bétise de Cambrai candy


And a bit more on Cambrai, lovely to visit I say!

Cambrai is a town part of the  Habsburg  in the 16C, and rediscovered the kingdom of France in the 17C.  Strongly destroyed during WWII  due to the air raids, the town rebuilt itself in the aftermath, revealing today a pleasant face to the tourists. Although a large part of the heritage has disappeared over the centuries, the town of Cambrai still has interesting sights to discover during the time of a stay on site.

A bit of history I like

At the beginning of the Merovingian period, Cambrai became the seat of a vast bishopric extending across the right bank of the Escaut river  and the center of a small ecclesiastical principality which depended on the Holy Roman Empire until annexation to France in 1678.  This came about due to the Treaty of Nijmegen signed on 10 August 1678 , where Spain abandons Cambrai, and the town is definitively annexed by France. Here the famous bishop Fénelon, nicknamed the Swan of Cambrai, was the most illustrious of the archbishops.

The city suffers from the French revolution in 1796, the cathedral, marvel of the Netherlands, is sold in 1796 to a merchant who leaves only the tower. Deprived of support, it collapsed in 1809 during the French Revolution all the religious buildings of the city were sold as national property and destroyed , including the old Cathedral. Only four Churches, transformed into an attic, a hospital, a temple of reason or in prison, are spared. The Cathedral of Notre Dame Grace, completed in 1703 in the classical style of the time, replaced after the revolution of 1789 the admirable Gothic cathedral of the 12C, of which there is no traces on the present place Fénelon.

The gate of Paris (late 14C), of  Notre Dame (17C) and the towers of the towers of  Sottes (or Saint-Fiacre), of Caudron (first half of 15C), and des Arquets (16C) are the remains of the medieval ramparts.  Occupied and partially destroyed by the German army during WWI, Cambrai saw at its doors in 1917 the battle where the tanks were used for the first time used massively. The WWII, finally the first American tanks entered the city on September 2. 1944 , and thereafter the town followed a reconstruction program. A picture below of the oldies I was able to find in place Aristide Briand in city center Cambrai!circa 2006!!! ok ok just wanted to mention Cambrai !!!!

cambrai pedro and kids centre ville place aristide briand jun02

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Cambrai on heritage

Tourist office of Cambrai on heritage in English

There a bit more as promise, hope it helps you come on over and see some nice architecture of the north of France, is different promise. Cambrai has many examples.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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January 15, 2019

Arras ,the Pas-de-Calais!

And on my wandering road warrior trips in my belle France, I have come to the Pas de Calais department 62 in the region of Hauts de France. First, it was for no reason at all than visiting family not far, and then, we came back for visits and even Christmas market.

I like to tell you a bit more on Arras, a very moving historical city to many with vivid history of WWI especially. I like this time to concentrate on the Place des Héros and the Grand Place (Heroes square and Big square respectively).

I have written on Arras in general before in my blog, just to recap.

We come to Arras. We go here often ,even for the Christmas market. A wonderful town  to walk and see. We all come here for the Beffroi or belltower, a must in the city to climb it. built from 1453-1554, it was a lookout point in WWI with its 75 meters high ( 249 ft)  towards 3 kms to the east where the front was. admission was 2.80€ and it is UNESCO. You can see the Boves or the underground tunnels, it house 24 000 British soldiers during  WWI, and can be seen for a modest admission of less than 6€. The Musée des Beaux-Arts or fine arts can be seen for less than 5€.  It is at 22 ruer Paul Doumer,  housed in a wonderful  building of the monastic architecture of the 18C that is the abbey of Saint-Vaast, it has a medieval collection, school of Arras paintings, and porcelains in its gorgeous room or salle des Mays. Come see the Carriére Wellington, chalk caves where soldiers hid during WWI, and started from the offensive of 1917 with 24K British soldiers, admission was less than 7€, and then you have the Citadelle ,built 1667-1672 by Vauban, known as the unused beauty as Arras never had a siege after its contruction, it has a Chapel on the side, the oldest religious building in Arras. It is by Blvd Gen de Gaulle. Here you have one of the best Christmas markets in France( Marché de Nôel) by the Grand Place , and certainly the best in the North,and the Saturday morning market at Place des Héros.




my fam is walking ahead ::) Place des Héros Arras


And just to put up  a bit more on these two wonderful streets of historical Arras

The Place des Héros is a beautiful square in Arras . The place of Heroes was built from 1463 to 1554 and will be enlarged two times in 1572 and 1658. Under the Belfry, the city/town Hall.lined with a splendid strengthened canvas over 50 meters long and tracing the life of the Arrageois in the 16C, it is also covered with magnificent carved woodwork that adorn the Hall of Honor. A place to visit, the belfry not only houses the tourist office but also allows you to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city it protects.  The Petite Place or small square takes the name of Place des Héros in 1945, in connection with the resistance fighters of the town of WWII having been shot here.


The Rue de la Taillerie connects it to the Grand Place. The square is big which is characterized by a completely mineral aspect that is found in many cities of the old Netherlands. The origin of the Grand-Place of Arras is not certain. This is the historic and main square of the city. The square is surrounded by 155 houses marked by the influence of the Flemish Baroque style in a classic 17C French architecture. Like the place of the heroes, the Flemish influence is visible notably by the voluted gables overlooking the square, as well as the arcades at the front of the houses; the arcades are supported by 345 pillars. Arras’s Christmas Market takes place on the Grand Place from the end of November to the end of December.



The square includes the communal Beffroi or belfry as well as the city/town hall.. Like the Grand Place, the Flemish influence is visible in particular by the volute gables overlooking the square, as well as the arcades in front of the houses. The houses of Grand’Place and Place des Héros have two underground passages. During the bombardments of 1944, they were used as a shelter and as a medical center. This giant network of underground passages (called Boves) has been made open to visitors since 1982.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Arras on heritage

Tourist office of Arras on heritage

dept tourist office on Arras and fine arts museum abbey

Again is a magical town of history recent, and well worth the detour. We stop by on our way to visit family each time we can. Hope you enjoy the ride to Arras.

And remember , happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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