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Eglise St. Jean Baptiste, Arras, France

This small Catholic church peeks above the rooftops. When this church was built in the 12th century it was called Saint Nicolas des Fosses since it was constructed on the site of Bastion Saint Nicolas. In the1560’s, that church was demolished and rebuilt. During the French Revolution, most churches were sold as national property and […]

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Arras Buildings

Arras, France: yet another town in which to fall in love with charming building details! I liked the expressive faces. I’ve no idea what this is (it’s affixed to an external wall), but I thought the face was an amusing touch! You can’t beat the intricate Hôtel de Ville roof. Tweet

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La Carriére Wellington, Arras, France

It’s hard to believe these medieval chalk quarries served as a strategic base and living quarters for 20,000+ British soldiers while they prepared to attack the invading Germans in the Battle of Arras. Conveniently, vast quarries were spread throughout this front-line area, so it only made sense to put them to use. In 1916, British […]

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Place des Héros, or Petite Place, Arras, France

Place des Héros might be the smaller square, but the majestic town hall and belfry draw visitors’ eyes toward it. Although the square is no longer used as a main trading post, the Wednesday and Saturday morning markets are great venues for fresh produce, local foods, hand-crafted jewelry and decorative goods. The entire square, town […]

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Grand Place, Arras, France

Arras has not one, but two quaint city squares. In medieval times, the squares functioned as markets; farmers and merchants would bring their wares here to sell and trade. These days, there’s a Saturday morning market that offers fresh produce, baked goods, jewelry, fabric and household goods. Thanks to its proximity to WWI’s front line, […]

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Hôtel de Ville and Beffroi (Town Hall and Belfry), Arras, France

This 16th-century Flemish-Gothic structure is the centerpiece of Place de Héros and, arguably, Arras. Think it looks great for its age? It should since much of it was rebuilt after being nearly decimated in the world wars. The 75 meter high belfry offers long views over Arras and the surrounding area. Access is provided via […]

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Les Boves

You would never know that a vast underground circuit of cellars and passages runs underneath Place des Héros! These tunnels originated in the 10th century as limestone quarries. By the 12th century, when extractions stopped, the cool, dark cellars stored merchants’ unsold produce. The miles of tunnels turned out to be useful for other purposes, […]

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Abbaye Sainte-Vaast

The 18th-century Benedictine Abbaye Sainte-Vaast is a grey-stone classical building pockmarked by shrapnel from both world wars. The abbey was originally founded in the seventh century, at which time it marked the birth of the town of Arras. Its generous size indicates the important spiritual and economic role it played. Today, the Musée des Beaux-Arts […]

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Arras Main Square Festival

The Main Square Festival is one of probably only a handful of summer open-air music festivals at a UNESCO site. In this case, the site is a 17th century military square, La Citadelle Vauban, in Arras, France. Barracks line the perimeter, and there is an arsenal, a 17th-century cathedral, St. Louis, and a memorial, The […]

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