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Rue des Sayneurs in Valenciennes.
© Valenciennes Tourist Office

Valenciennes

Historic capital of the former county of Hainaut, at the heart of the birthplace of mining in the Nord-Pas de Calais, Valenciennes has a rich and fascinating history. The city is known as the Athens of the North, because of its artistic influence over several centuries, and it has a thousand and one tales to tell...

On your stroll around the historic centre of the city, you will see the town hall in the Place d’Armes, an example of deliberate confrontation between tradition and modernity. You will then wander into Watteau Square, shaded by Saint Géry, the city’s oldest church. Place Saint Nicolas and its former Jesuit School and Rue des Sayneurs, with its picturesque paving stones and its painted street numbers, will surprise and delight you in turn.

Valenciennes is distinguished by the incredible flourish of artistic talents that have developed there. In the fields of painting and sculpture, the city can boast of having produced masters and renovators such as André Beauneveu in the fourteenth century, Antoine Watteau in the eighteenth century and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux in the nineteenth century. Take time to discover this exceptional heritage at the Fine Arts Museum, which houses prestigious collections. Your visit will encompass archaeology and the arts up until the first half of the twentieth century, with highlights including seventeenth century Flemish paintings, with the works of Rubens, Jordaens and Van Dyck, as well as nineteenth century sculptures by Carpeaux, Lemaire, Crauk and Hiolle.

When arriving or leaving Valenciennes, look out for the unusual but familiar shape of the head frame of the Dutemple pit, one of the oldest of the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, which operated for 185 years! Valenciennes is a historic industrial city with many facets to discover.

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Valenciennes