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The belfry in Douai.
© Jean-Michel André

Douai

The city of Douai, known as the city of giants, has much to show you, with no less than three acknowledgements from UNESCO!

Douai is part of the Mining Basin World Heritage site, with the magnificent miners’ houses of the Aniche Mining Company. But that is not all! The Belfry of Douai is part of the Franco-Belgian series of 53 belfries inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1999 and 2005. And lastly, the city’s giants form part of the Processional Giants and Dragons in Belgium and France, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

In the city’s historic centre, lose yourself in a maze of medieval streets, discover little-known places and Renaissance houses, away from the bustling city, which offer a haven of peace to transport you to the soul of each site for a deeper understanding of its personality. An authentic discovery!

But above all else, take the time to climb the belfry, a Gothic masterpiece of the Middle Ages and symbol of the communal liberties. From the height of 45 metres, you will have an impressive view ranging from the old city of Douai to the spoil heaps and head frames of the Mining Basin. And to accompany your ascent up the 196 steps, the 62 bells of the carillon are always ready to sound their most beautiful melodies!

The Chartreuse museum is housed in a former Carthusian monastery. It is home to a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, fine arts and graphic design, from the late Middle Ages to the present day, including polyptychs and alter pieces by Van Scorel and Bellegambe, nineteenth century sculptures by Carpeaux, Rodin and Bra and paintings by Rubens, Veronese, Renoir and Pissarro. It is well worth the detour!

And if you are visiting us at the right time, in early July, you can join in with the Gayant family street parades. This is an important event because these giants only go out once a year. They wear their finest attire to walk, dance and swirl down the streets during three days, before going home to the giants’ house until the following year. This tradition has been proudly preserved since 1530 by means of the strict protocol followed by the giant bearers of Gayant.

Many World Heritage sites are temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please check official websites for more information.

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Douai