The Pas de Calais, and Arras!

The wonderful town of Arras. I have written on it before in my blog , and even the Christmas market in Arras is tops. However, I need to update this older post with refresh text and links to bring it up to date. It is wonderful to go over these previous places we have travelled and love it. Again, thanks for reading me since Nov 2010!

Let me update this post sort of an introduction to the wonderful Arras in my black and white series,no pictures. Hope you enjoy it as I.

We go to Arras, a nice town with lots of war history to remember. Also, in my opinion , the best Christmas market in the region. Arras is the historic capital of the departement 62 of Pas-de-Calais, in the region of Hauts de France; 45 km from Lille, and 160 km from Paris. We go here on the A1 who has an important exchange with the A26 here, and  we take the D 939.  The core historical of the city is along the ramparts with the oldest construction there around the bell tower or beffroi, and by the beautiful Grand’Place.

A bit of history I like: the treaty of Madrid of 1526 attached Arras to the Spanish lower countries but was never respected by king François I and conflicts continue until the end of his reign. The city is conquered by king Louis XIII in 1640 and later siege by the Spanish in 1654 ; however , the attachement to France does not happenned until the Treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659.(That set the frontiers of France and Spain to this day).

WWI or the Great War gave considerable damaged to the city and destruction of its heritage buildings as the town was only 10 km from the front. The beffroi is destroyed then the Cathedral and the palace of Saint-Vaast are bombarded in 1915. In secret the British built the stone quarries of chalk under the city to house the soldiers necessary for the battle of Arras of April 9 1917; the quarry of Wellington is open today to remember what heroic actions were taken place here. After the war, Arras was demolished in 3/4 of it and was rebuilt almost identical later. It had some damaged in WWII but not nearly as much than during the Great War 1914-1918.

Some of the things to see here are: Well let me tell you this little town has a punch. Arras is a City of Arts and History designation, and member of the Vauban network; it has 225 monuments classified as historical monuments that makes it the 7th city in France! The wonderful place des Héros,rue de la Taillerie, and the Grand’Place form an extraordinary monumental group of buildings unique in Europe.

The bell tower or beffroi in the city hall or hôtel de ville was built between 1463-1554, destroyed by Germans in WWI it was rebuilt to the identical after the war. The huge abbey of Saint-Vaast rebuilt in the 18C in classical architecture today houses the fine arts museum or musée des Beaux-Arts d’Arras, and the municipal library. Originally founded in the 7C ; the Church became the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Vaast after the old cathedral was destroyed during the French revolution. The lower town has the district that link the city to the Citadelle, around the place Victor-Hugo, built in 1756 in an octagonal shape of which in the center an obelisk was placed. The Citadelle was built between 1668-1672 as a defense in square format as wanted by Vauban, to protect the kingdom from invasion by the Spanish low countries but was never attack.

There is a theater on the Italian model built in 1785 and renovated last in 2007. The fine arts museum has sculptures, objects of art, and painting collections from the Flemish, Dutch, Italian, and French schools . There is an agreement between the city and the chateau de Versailles to offered collaboration that will give the museum a royal domain look (of course).

The culinary traditions here are other than the beer… Chocolate Hearts: In the 12C the heart-shaped pastries were done and still do. In the 17C, the Gingerbread hearts became the “hearts of Arras”. Since the years 1950, they are made of chocolate, and they are great! Since the Middle Ages, the home grown pigs perpetuate the traditional recipe of the antler of Arras, elaborated from veal strawberries prepared by hand. The antler of Arras has its brotherhood and its annual feast.

The city of Arras tourist office on its heritage in French:   https://www.arras.fr/fr/mes-loisirs/tourisme-patrimoine

The Arras tourist office in English:   https://www.arraspaysdartois.com/en/

There you have it, a wonderful town the Pas de Calais dept 62 in Hauts de France region.

And now , there you go folks, again a  wonderful city of Arras with great memories.  Hope you enjoy the post on Arras, and do visit worth the detour. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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