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The beautiful town of Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais with a population of 43,000.

The most famous features of the town are the two central squares which were built over 800 years ago to house vast markets that traded here bringing prosperity to the town. These gigantic squares are surrounded with numerous houses and shops built of white stone and brick in the 17th and 18th centuries and replicated after their destruction in the WW1. They are considered today as the jewels in the Arras crown.

Today, it’s a town bursting with art and culture with everything from theatre and museums to ancient Roman sites, markets and speciality shops.

Is there a local speciality?

A little bit bizarre but it's a chocolate rat. It's taken from the towns heraldic arms.

Any good activities around?

There are echoes of World War One everywhere you go in this region with numerous museums, memorials and cemeteries to visit.

The Centre Européen de la Paix - Souchez Museum which is dedicated to WWI with a particularly interesting collection of artefacts made by soldiers. The underground tunnels in Le Jardin des Boves in Arras are worth a visit too. These were the HQ of the British and allied forces during WWI.

Le Musee des Beaux-Arts - A fine arts museum, housing archaeology, fine arts (paintings and sculptures from the middle ages to the 19th century), as well as local artefacts from the town’s cathedral. The famous Salle des Mays contains 17th century religious paintings and Arras porcelain.

The Town Hall, the Belfry & the squares – the tourist office is situated in the gothic town hall and is definitely the first place to visit. The belfry is classified Unseco World Heritage. The two town squares represent an exceptional line-up of 155 frontages of Flemish baroque architecture.

When's market day?

Wednesdays – Place des Héros, Thurdays – Place Lanvin. Saturdays – Place de la Vanquerie, Place des Héros, Grand Place. Sundays – Place Verlaine.

The Christmas market in December sees sumptuous decoration of the square “La Grand Place” as well as the Town hall and its Belfry.

Interesting town fact

It is also known as the town of 80 poets.