Escorted Rail Tours to Arras
A popular, pretty and historic town close to the battlefields of the Somme
The medieval town of Arras occupies a scenic hillside position on the River Scarpe in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of northern France. Originating as a village and grain-market surrounding the Benedictine monastery of St. Vaast founded in the seventh century, the town grew and prospered, gaining a royal commercial charter in the twelfth century and becoming renowned for its textile industry, fine tapestry, arts and culture.
Throughout its long history the ownership of Arras has been fiercely contested. In medieval times, successive conflicts saw the town fall into the possession of the County of Flanders, the Duchy of Burgundy, King Louis XI of France and the Spanish Habsburgs.
In the First World War, Arras became a British defensive stronghold with troops protected beneath the city thanks to Les Boves - a series of interconnected underground tunnels and chambers that were initially dug in the tenth century and which can be toured today.
Arras suffered significant damage during both the First and Second World Wars but its many historically significant buildings have been lovingly and painstakingly restored from original plans to their pre-war glory.
Nowadays Arras is a delightful town which rewards exploration and offers visitors many historic and cultural attractions. Close to the front line in World War I, Arras is a popular destination with visitors wishing to follow the 'Remembrance Circuit' of the nearby battlefields and memorials of the Somme.