Cambrai, the Nord !!

And yes let’s stay in the Nord dept 59 of my belle France. This is family territory so been here many times since 1990! We always took advantage of staying in these lands to use as a base for our local road warrior trips. We have memorable moment of the older brother taken us to Cambrai first back in 1990 to show off his region. And as usual on family lands very few pictures if any. We , of course, came back many times. Let me tell you a bit about the big city nearby them; this is Cambrai!!

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, sadly.  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!  Lets go over to Cambrai, obviously no hotels and little restos as it is close to home. And my best shot from 2006 below lol!


Much of Cambrai’s monumental heritage has disappeared over the centuries. During the French revolution all the religious buildings in 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 a prison, were spared.  The dismantling of the fortifications, from 1894, led to the disappearance of many gates. The WWI was again responsible for very significant destruction. Finally, at the end of WWII, Cambrai was subjected to Allied bombardments: a total of 55% of the buildings were damaged and 13% completely destroyed.

The places to see me think are the Cathédrale Notre Dame  de Grâce, 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 Church Saint-Géry, Place François de Fénelon, is one of the oldest monuments in Cambrai. It contains a remarkable polychrome marble rood screen as well as an Entombment by Rubens dating from 1616. The large organ built in 1867 underwent a major transformation in 1978.


The belfry of Cambrai. Formerly the bell tower of the Saint-Martin church, rue du Beffroi, the monument built in the 15C became the Cambrai belfry in 1550. The Hôtel de Ville or City/town hall, completely restored in 1932, opens onto the Grand’Place with a majestic facade in Greek style, surmounted by a campanile where two bronze bell-ringers, giants and of Moorish type, strike the hours on a large bell above the large clock: they are Martin and Martine, the protectors of the city. The Maison Espagnole or Spanish house, seat of the Tourist Office, the last half-timbered and gabled house in a regional style, dates from 1595. The oak sculptures (chimeras and caryatids) which adorned its facade in the 19C are exhibited on the first floor inside after having undergone a serious restoration. We visit its medieval cellars. The covered market, built after WWII, houses lively halles on market days.


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. The underground passages or catiches which extend under the center of the city, as in other medieval towns, were explored in the middle of the 19C as well as towards the end of the 20C. Carved in white chalk, they include galleries, Romanesque or Gothic vaulted rooms. There are also wells, niches with statues. The German military cemetery on the route de Solesmes, the Russian military cemetery and the Cambrai East Military Cemetery: the military cemetery on the route de Solesmes was created by the German army in March 1917. The Musée des Beaux-Arts or Museum of Fine Arts, opened in 1847 to present the revolutionary seizures, has been installed since 1893 in an 18C mansion, the Hôtel de Francqueville. The Cambrai theater, built in 1924 on the site of a 16th century chapel destroyed during  WWI. The renovated theater was inaugurated in 2003. It is a 700-seat Italian-style theater which hosts various shows.

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.

The ones we get are from here the originals Confiserie Afchain

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. From the Confiserie Afchain:,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=29&cntnt01returnid=26

And a bit more on Cambrai, lovely to visit I say!  The town was 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 visitors. 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 massively. The WWII, finally the first American tanks entered the city on September 2. 1944 , and thereafter the town followed a reconstruction program.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The city of Cambrai on heritage:

The Cambrai tourist office on things to see:

There a bit more as promise, hope it helps you come on over and see some nice architecture of the Nord/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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2 Comments to “Cambrai, the Nord !!”

  1. Looks to be a lovely place. Great memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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