My list of cute towns in Northern France keeps expanding! Enter the Ville d’Arras in Pas-de-Calais. Nestled in the picturesque northern region of France between Paris and Lille, Arras is a captivating town that effortlessly blends historical charm with modern vibrancy.

My second visit to the town of Arras in Pas-de-Calais to participate in the yearly Course Pédestres Arras running event!

With its cobbled streets, stunning architecture, and rich cultural heritage, Arras is a hidden gem that begs to be explored. In this article, I will take you on a journey through the must-visit places, the biggest events, local festivals, and delectable cuisines that make Arras an unforgettable destination.

Stunning Flemish-style houses surround Arras’ Place de Héros and Grand Place (town square).

What are the biggest events in Arras?

Arras is home to France’s biggest events. Here are the biggest festivals and events that you can enjoy in this city:

  • Main Square Festival: A highlight of the summer, this music festival attracts international artists and a lively crowd. The Grand Place transforms into a colossal concert venue, creating an electric atmosphere.
  • Christmas Market: When winter blankets Arras with a snowy charm, the Christmas Market comes alive. Wooden chalets adorned with twinkling lights offer everything from crafts to seasonal treats, making it a festive wonderland.
  • Arras Film Festival: Cinephiles rejoice during this event, as it showcases a diverse selection of films from around the world. The town becomes a hub for cinematic exploration and appreciation.
  • Fête des Bêtises: Translating to “Festival of Nonsense,” this local celebration is a testament to Arras’s unique sense of humor. Expect quirky parades, whimsical costumes, and a spirit of carefree revelry that brings both locals and visitors together.
I loved the line of trees on Arras’ main boulevard.

What to see in Arras?

Sightseeing is one of the major reasons you should visit Arras. As of this writing, I have already visited Arras twice, but I have yet to see everything! Here’s what’s on my list:

  • Grand Place and Place de Héros: The heart of Arras, this breathtaking square is flanked by elegant Flemish-style buildings. The stunning architecture is complemented by a unique bell tower, offering panoramic views of the town. Cafes and restaurants surround this town square, making it perfect for spending a day watching people and enjoying life in the slow lane.
  • Arras Citadel: A marvel of military architecture, the citadel is a testament to the town’s strategic importance. It now serves as a peaceful park, perfect for leisurely strolls and picnics. I breezed by this park when I participated in the Course Pédestres Arras running event. In my opinion, this citadel looked better maintained from the outside than the Citadelle de Lille.
  • Les Boves: Discover the hidden underground passages that once served as quarries. Today, they host events and exhibitions that provide a glimpse into the town’s history. (Still on my list to visit!)
  • Wellington Quarry: Delve into the town’s World War I history at this museum and memorial site. The immersive exhibits pay homage to the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Arras. (Still on my list to visit!)
  • Saint-Vaast Abbey: This beautifully preserved abbey boasts stunning Gothic architecture and tranquil gardens, offering a peaceful escape from the bustle of the town. (Still on my list to visit!)

What to eat in Arras?

A restaurant-filled street leading to the John The Baptist Catholic Church in Arras.

Arras shares many French cuisines that are also popular in other towns and cities in Northern France. Here are the must-try dishes you would not want to miss during your visit:

  • Carbonnade Flamande: This is my favourite dish in Northern France. Carbonnade Flamande is a hearty beef stew cooked in beer that embodies the rich flavors of the region. Served with crispy fries, it’s a true comfort food experience. When I want a healthier option, I usually swap the fries for salad, but that’s just me!
  • Tarte au Maroilles: Cheese lovers like me rejoice! This savory tart features Maroilles cheese, a local specialty with a distinct tangy taste.
  • Ficelle Picarde: A delicate crepe filled with ham, mushrooms, and creamy sauce, this dish exemplifies the region’s culinary finesse.
  • Bêtises d’Arras: These playful sweets, named after the local festival, are colorful candies with a burst of fruit flavors.

Which towns and cities are located near Arras?

Located midway between Paris and Lille, Arras sits at the crossroads of the Pas-de-Calais department. This means that Arras can be a perfect gateway to exploring France’s northern region.

Here are the nearest towns and cities of interest to Arras that you could consider visiting:

A view of Arras’ Grand Place with giant statues from the Fete de Géant.

Discover the Former County of Artois

Arras, with its historical treasures, dynamic events, and mouthwatering cuisine, is a destination that leaves a lasting impression.

Whether you’re wandering through the charming streets, immersing yourself in its festivals, or savoring its unique flavors, Arras promises an authentic and unforgettable experience that captures the essence of northern France.

So, pack your bags and embark on an adventure that will forever be etched in your memories.

For more information, I recommend you check out Arras’ official tourism site at:

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