Arras is full of memories and monuments of its turbulent past. The emotional journey around these sites will bring a tear to your eye but also demonstrate the gratitude of the Artois people not only for the protection and preservation of their land but also for the freedom given to them by the soldiers of the First World War. Commemorative memorials include the Canadian memorial at Vimy, the British memorial in Arras, the German cemetery at Neuville-Sant-Vaast and the French cemetery at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. In addition to these, the Arras Belfry was destroyed in 1914 by enemy bombs, and consequently became the symbol of the French resistance.
The Belfry and the Town Hall
The Belfry and the Town Hall were built in similar periods, the Belfry from 1463-1554 and the Town Hall from 1502-1506. The lovely buildings display a mixture of both baroque and renaissance style architecture due to the additions of Napoleon III. These beautiful rather gothic style buildings were sadly destroyed in the First World War but cleverly and accurately rebuilt between 1924 and 1932. These buildings are centrally situated between the Place de Héros and the Place de la Vacquerie.
The Abbey Quarter
Saint-Vaast Abbey and Cathedral
Situated on the Rue de Doumer facing the Place de la Madelaine. The cathedral and abbey are stunning pieces of 18th century architecture and make up the largest religious edifice in France from that era. Built on the ancient prayer site of la Madelaine Hill (6th century), the site in and around these buildings has previously revealed superb archaeological finds. The cathedral's neo-classical style and the bright freshness of its interior will delight all that visit it. The abbey boasts buildings of 175 metres long and the portal opens out onto the main courtyard through which you can enter the Museum of Fine Arts, whose galleries lie around the outside of the Main Cloister and the Wel courtyard.
Museum of Fine Arts
This lovely museum has rooms not only dedicated to the findings of archaeological digs from the local district, such as 4th century coins, medieval sculptures and landscapes, but also display the finest collection of religious full size paintings in the provinces.
A fun Art Deco style museum, formerly a miner’s lamp factory, quite contrastingly, this now houses a cultural and scientific centre dedicated to educating people about nature, agriculture, food and health. A great place to take the children, there are discovery areas, gardens, tasting sessions, artists, music and shows.
The Arts Quarter
Located centrally, and incorporating the Place de Theatre, this area is home to a collection of cultural and historical sites. An Italian style auditorium is open to the public, in addition there is the Hôtel de Guînes, a superb example of 18th century architecture but which also houses artists exhibitions, plays and workshops and also included in this wonderful ensemble is the Musée des Compagnons, the travelling tradesmen’s museum.