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, too. During World War I, the rooms served as a British barracks and hospital. During WWII, the residents of Arras sought shelter in them.

Our visit coincided with the tail-end of the annual Jardin des Boves exhibit, where the tunnels are transformed into gardens. This year the theme was Versailles. The palace and gardens were loosely recreated with plants, flowers, paintings, sculptures fountains and Baroque music to convey L’Orangerie, the Hall of Mirrors, Neptune’s Fountain and the Grandes Eaux Fountain. Portraits of Louis XIV, Louise XV, their wives and many mistresses tied the no-place-like-home feeling together.

The only access to the boves is via a guided tour, which lasts about 40 minutes. The tours start at the Tourist Information Office, Arras Town Hall
, Place des Héros.

boves, Arras, France

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