Arras is an ancient town full of magnificent gothic architecture which gives it an air of grandeur. There is something of interest around every corner, whatever your tastes may be, and plenty of shops for some serious retail therapy
Arras is located at the south-west end of the Pas de Calais department, in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of northern France, about 110km from Calais about an hours drive on the motorway.
The most direct route is to take the A26 Autoroute (motorway) from the port of Calais or the Channel Tunnel and follow the signs for Arras.
It is sited in an attractive location built on a deep bed of chalk and limestone that was mined from medieval times to provide the building blocks of homes, workplaces, churches and public buildings. There are at least 10 hotels within a 6 mile radius of the town for you to choose from for your stay here.
The highlight of Arras is its old-town centre, which has been carefully and attractively restored following the very great damage suffered during the First World War. There are two large open squares in the town – the larger is the Grand Place and the smaller is the Place des Heros.
Both are surrounded by Dutch style houses and mansions above arcades at street level. It is in the smaller of the two squares that you will find the Town Hall, and the entrance to the belfry, one of the belfries of France that has now been designated as a World Heritage site. After ascending the belfry, and still in the town hall, you can descend into the subterranean world below – rooms and tunnels carved out of the ground below – and learn the history of the region.
Many people visit this area for the war graves and Arras has the famous Vimy Memorial which is well worth a visit. If you wish to spend some time investigating the history of this area, then the Beaux Arts Museum has many treasures from the Cathedral and Fine Arts exhibitions.
You can also visit the home of Robespierre who played such an important role in the French Revolution. The restaurants in Arras serve mostly regional cuisine, with seafood and fresh local vegetables their specialities.