The capital of the historic Artois region has a strong Flemish accent, clear in the names, architecture, food and art.
The gabled houses on Place des Héros and Grand-Place could easily be in Belgium or the Netherlands, while the fine arts museum has a bounty of Flemish and Dutch baroque painting.
The First World War raged in this region and there are constant reminders of the conflict a century later: Metres below your feet in Arras is an old labyrinth of chalk tunnels where the citizens took shelter, but also where Allied forces coordinated the Battle of Arras in 1917. An then just outside the city are memorials, cemeteries and thought-provoking museums.
Lets explore the best things to do in Arras:
1. Beffroi d’Arras
All of the belfries in the historic County of Flanders are listed as UNESCO sites, and that goes for the proud one on Place des Héros.
A lift will get you most of the way to a panoramic viewpoint, and after that you have to scale another 40 steps on a metallic spiral stairway for a bird’s eye view 75 metres above the centre of Arras.
The belfry is in the flamboyant gothic style and has been rebuilt twice since it was completed in 1554, first to correct structural faults in 1840 and then after damage in the First World War.
In its earliest days the belfry’s chimes signalled the opening and closing of the city gates.