Northern France Tourism : official website

Façades of buildings in ‘La Grand Place d’Arras’

The squares of Arras - unique in the world

You experience the same visual impact if you stand in ‘La Grand' Place’ or in ‘La Place des Héros -  155 narrow houses standing tall, borne up by 345 columns creating a long line of arches. These Flemish Baroque façades are impressive, and the Town Hall and its belfry are a fine example.  Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, their architecture is a veritable lacework in stone. Climb the steps up the 75 m belfry, where the view is fantastic. You will be very close to the famous lion holding the sun - the emblem for Louis 14th, who made Arras part of France. Walk between the squares along the pretty ‘Rue de la Taillerie’.  Shops, cafés and restaurants are located under the arches. It is a fashionable and lively area in the evenings.

Picture of La Grand Place in Arras at night
  • La Grand Place at night
  • © Eric LE BRUN

A walk through the Art District

Explore the iconic Art District in Arras. Within a few streets of one another, you will discover three superb cultural sites right in the centre of the town that symbolise the traditional close relationship between Arras and the arts. Let’s begin with the Place du Théâtre and its magnificent ‘Italian-style’ theatre hall dating from 1785. It is a national theatre that has now formed a new cultural body called the‘Tandem’ in conjunction with the Hippodrome in Douai. Just a stone’s throw away in Rue Paul Doumer, the old Saint-Vaast abbey now houses the Fine Arts Museum. Come and explore this exceptional place which encircles its visitors and see the hundreds of exhibits. Continue down Rue Robespierre to reach the birthplace of the famous revolutionary. Today it houses the fascinating ‘Musée des Compagnons’.

The façade of the theatre in Arras at night
  • The façade of the theatre in Arras at night
  • © D.R.

The citadel in Arras - architecture is brought to life

The citadel in Arras, which was conceived and designed by Vauban in 1668, maintained its military use up until 2010. 218 resistance fighters were martyred here when they were shot in the Citadel’s ditches between 1941 and 1944. Stone plaques in the walls commemorate each of the men. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it could have enjoyed a peaceful retirement. However, the town of Arras wanted to keep it alive and transformed it into a lively, vibrant and lived-in urban space. It is not just major cultural events which take place here such as the Main Square Festival, or sporting events such as the triathlon - it also has been party to an extensive housing programme. The old 17th century buildings have been slowly converted into apartments and the communal areas have been renovated superbly. It is a magnificent place to explore with its iconic adjacent woodland where joggers, families and people out walking can enjoy the many prepared trails.

The citadel is brought to life each year by crowds during the Main Square Festival
  • The square in the citadel is brought to life each year by nearly 100,000 spectators during the Main Square Festival
  • © Samuel DHOTE
Two highlights worth experiencing
Chalets in the Christmas market in Arras

Enjoy a drink of mulled wine and explore one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the area. It’s magical, with chalets, lights and the ferris wheel casting shadows on façades in ‘La Grand'Place’.

A whole world underground

A whole town traverses Arras under its pavements. Explore ‘Les boves’ - tunnels carved out in the 10th century in the subterranean chalk quarries.  A vivid journey into the heart of the medieval caves. Then descend over 2O m deep into the Wellington quarry, which witnessed one of the most amazing undertakings of World War I. For 6 months, from November 1916 through to April 1917, the allied forces dug out a network of tunnels to accommodate up to 24,000 soldiers. They would live here hidden away.  The tunnels brought the troops to within just a few metres of the front. On the morning of the offensive, thousands of fighting men burst out into the open, taking enemy lines by surprise.

The Wellington underground quarries, occupied by soldiers in 1917
  • In the heart of the Wellington quarries
  • © LightMotiv
Two paths to remembrance
The Canadian Memorial Park in Vimy

An affecting place - the shell holes and trenches can still be seen. A huge monument stands at the summit, dominating the landscape, built in memory of the 66,000 young Canadians killed during WWI.

Arras - a town that cultivates the art of living

Arras is a vibrant town that cultivates the art of good living. Awarded ‘quatre fleurs’ since 2004, the many public gardens and squares offer somewhere special to enjoy some peace and quiet. There is nothing better than staying here for at least one night. It is the best way to enjoy the great evening atmosphere. Stroll down the cobbled streets in the footsteps of Verlaine. Marvel at the play of light highlighting the stonework. Enjoy an unhurried break with a meal or drink under the illuminated arches. On Saturday morning browse along the stalls in one of the region’s most famous markets. Pastry and cake sellers, master cheesemakers and local producers will tell you about their specialities: The famous ‘Cœur d'Arras’ - a soft cheese with a pungent aroma; gingerbread hearts and little chocolate rats...and not forgetting the inevitable Arras ‘andouillette’.

Enjoying a break on a café terrace in Place des Héros
  • A break on a café terrace in one the squares in Arras
  • © Cituation et Ensemble