SOME NOTES FOR BATTLEFIELD VISITORS
Arras is one of the most accessible WW1 battlefields, being only an hour from Calais. However, compared to other battlefield it does not get as many visitors. Hopefully these notes combined with the Arras Battlefields in a Day guide will help you make your own visit to this fascinating area. Any questions contact me via email.
EMAIL PAUL REED
Arras is about 110km from Calais, and about an hour on the motorway. The most direct route is to take the A26 Autoroute (motorway) from Calais port or Channel Tunnel, and follow the signs for Arras. For route guidance visit http://www.mappy.com/ where you can print out a route planner.
If you are coming via public transport the quickest route is to take the Eurostar from London to Lille Europe, then either take a TGV to Arras from here, or walk to Lille Flanders station and take a local train. It takes about 20 minutes in a TGV and about an hour on local trains; sometimes more during peak periods. You can make train enquiries on http://www.sncf.fr/ and book a ticket on-line. If you come across on the ferry to Calais you can take a local train from Calais Ville station, but you will have to change: the quickest route is probably via Lille. Again use the SNCF site to check for trains.
Public transport, like most of France, is minimal at Arras. However, there are city buses to get around, and some go out to several of the villages on the battlefields. Local trains also serve some villages. Both buses and trains are infrequent.
This is located in the Hotel de Ville (town hall) in central Arras and stocks books, maps and other items, along with the usual tourist information. English spoken. Contact details:
Office du Tourisme
Place des Héros
Tel: 0033 3 21 51 26 95
Fax: 0033 3 21 51 76 49
It is normally closed during lunchtime, except during the Summer months.
Beneath the town hall are ancient tunnels (Boves) some of which were used in WW1. You can book a tour of them at this office.
There are a number of hotels in central Arras. These include:
Hotel De L'Univers ***
5 Place Croix Rouge, 62000 ARRAS.
Tél. +33 3 21 71 34 01 - Fax +33 3 21 71 41 42.
Mercure Atria Arras Centre***
58, boulevard Carnot, 62000 ARRAS.
Tel : (+33) 3 21 23 88 88. Fax : (+33) 3 21 23 88 89.
E-mail : H1560@accor-hotels.com
1, boulevard Faidherbe / 2 place Foch, 62000 ARRAS.
Tél: 03.21.23.39.57. Fax: 03.21.71.55.42.
11 rue de Justice Place Ipswich, 62000 ARRAS.
Tel : (+33) 3 21 23 61 61. Fax : (+33) 3 21 71 31 31.
A useful page to book hotels here is: http://www.arrashotelreservation.com/
A budget hotel outside of Arras (located in the village of Tilloy-les-Mofflaines):
Formule 1 Arras Est
27 Avenue d'Immercourt, 62217 Tilloy les Mofflaines, FRANCE.
Tel : (+33)891705167. Fax : (+33)321078314.
There are no English run B&Bs in the area (yet!) and not many French ones. However, there are two Gites de France Chambre d'Hotes: one at Bullecourt and another at Fampoux. For details and bookings visit:
Vimy Ridge with its imposing Canadian Memorial and Battlefield Park with preserved trenches and tunnels is one of the most visited parts of the Arras battlefield. More details on the site here: Vimy Memorial.
The Vimy Memorial Park has an Interpretation Centre. Contact details for it:
Canadian National Vimy
Tel: 0033 3 21 50 68 68.
Fax: 0033 3 21 58 58 34.
The IGN Green Series 1/100,000 map No 4 'Arras-Laon' covers the Arras area if you are only going to drive the battlefield. More detailed maps can be found in the IGN Blue Series: several sheets cover the main 1917 Battlefield. They can be ordered from the IGN web site http://www.ign.fr, or can be purchased in several of the newsagents and bookshops in Arras.
Some useful books on the Arras battlefield include:
Paul Reed - Walking Arras (Pen & Sword 2007, link here)
- Currently the only battlefield guide specifically dealing with the 1917 battlefields at Arras. Due out in mid-2005.
Major & Mrs Holt - Western Front: North (Pen & Sword 2004)
A new guidebook by these prolific authors includes useful details on the Arras battlefields. For more information see their website: http://www.guide-books.co.uk/
Rose Coombes - Before Endeavours Fade (After The Battle, several editions)
Rightly consider the Bible to the Western Front Battlefields, this is a guide to the whole front from Belgium to the Swiss Border. Easily available and in print.
John Giles - The Western Front Then & Now (After The Battle)
The third in his trilogy of Then & Now books, this one has some coverage of the Arras battlefields. Still in print and easily available.
Gerald Gliddon - VCs of the First World War: Arras & Messines 1917 (Alan Sutton Books 1998)
Useful reference guide to all the VC winners at the Battle of Arras, with photographs and maps.
J-M, Jacques, A & Letho Duclos, J-L. - Somewhere On The Western Front:
This English edition combines some of the material used in the earlier (French edition) books by the same authors, along with newer information, including articles on some of the archaeological work around Arras in recent years. Available from the Tourist Office in the Hotel de Ville in Arras .
Jon Nicholls Cheerful Sacrifice: The Battle of Arras (new Pen & Sword edition 2004)
The only published book to specifically deal with the 1917 Battle of Arras, the story is told through the recollections of veterans who served at Arras. It contains some harrowing accounts. Highly recommended.
©Paul Reed 2005-2007