Right then! Having brought you up to date last time what have we been doing this trip? After our usual pre-ferry stopover at Canterbury Park & Ride we planned to make our first stop in Arras. We’ve rudely passed by many times on our way to or from the Channel crossing, so this time we thought we’d stay and explore.

With the Irish Ferries terminal receding in Vince’s mirrors (and still recovering from the shock of a £7 bacon butty) our first stop had to be for a supermarket sweep. We try to play by the rules so we’d made sure we didn’t have any dairy or meat products on board (well, not many) so we needed to stock up. It’s a while since we’ve shopped in France, and oh my goodness! I know we’ve had our cost of living issues at home, but the prices! I’ll try not to make a big issue of it over the following posts, we know how lucky we are to be able to holiday like this. But oh my goodness, the prices!

We’d seen some favourable reviews of the Arras Aire Park online and found it tucked in between a car showroom and the Scarpe river. I can definitely recommend it as a stopover. Big roomy pitches, electric hook-up, very clean and tidy and with a self-cleaning toilet and shower. And as you can see from the pic you get a free goat with every pitch!

Arras aire park goat

Highlights from our wander round Arras were the Place des Héros and the Wellington Tunnels. On our first evening we had a lazy walk into town just to sit with a drink and unwind. It felt so good to be finally on holiday. The Place des Héros is a huge square, with cafés and restaurants dotted around the sides. Its name is a tribute to the townspeople who were shot for being members of the resistance in WW2. 

Lots of people were out & about, catching up with friends and family in the early evening sunshine. Apéritifs ordered, we just gazed around at the beautiful buildings. L’Hôtel de Ville or town hall, and the magnificent belfry are UNESCO world heritage sites. Even though we’re architectural ignoramuses we could see the Flemish influence on the houses with their scroll gables – or pointy fronts as I called them until I looked it up! They’re very similar to those we saw in Bruges.

Place des Heros
Evening sharpener in the Place des Héros

One of our main reasons for visiting Arras was to explore the Carrière Wellington – the Wellington Tunnels. We took full advantage of the town’s free electric bus service to get us from the Aire into the centre, then had a ten minute walk to the entrance.

For hundreds of years, the chalk bedrock under Arras was quarried for building material. Most of these quarries had fallen into disuse by the start of the 20th century, but during WW1 British forces hatched a plan to link them together with a series of tunnels. The plan was then to launch a surprise attack on the German army entrenched to the east. 500 New Zealand miners were drafted in to dig and reinforce over 20km of tunnels. Their experience of coal and gold-mining at home made their expertise invaluable.

On completion, the tunnels housed 20,000 men, had electric light, running water, and a light railway to move equipment around. It was very eerie standing in the chamber where the Easter Service of 1917 was held prior to the battle. 

Tunnels under Arras
One of the media stops in the tunnels

Our guided tour was excellent, and in English! At various points in the tunnels there were explanatory films and our guide pointed out lots of scratched graffiti on the walls. Some of this was from the Second World War when the tunnels were used during air raids, some from the First World War and some dating back to medieval times.

After our history lesson it seemed very strange to be wandering around the market looking for something for tea in the fresh air and sunshine. These visits are always a good reminder of how lucky we are to live the lives we do.

But did I mention those French prices???

Next time, we do some quick hops and make a lucky find. Stay tuned 😀


Graffiti in the tunnels
Graffiti in the tunnels – no way of telling how old it is…
Hotel de Ville Arras

Gill with silly hat
We had to wear these “Tommy” hats underground – very fetching!
Ken in the van
In my happy place! Back in Vince, cooking a steak dinner
About Ken Tomlinson 219 Articles
Semi-retired biker, blogger and world’s best grandad. Doesn’t take life too seriously. Discovered motorhoming in 2015, sold up and downsized to fund more travels. Now with added Yorkshire.

4 Comments on Arras

  1. Those tunnels are awe inspiring and the contrast with the fresh air above ground is thought provoking. Thanks again for another insight into MHing and French/ Belgian life.

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