Le Tour 2004 - A Virtual Cultural Trip

Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 09:14 am
Moderator: moved from Europe to Travel and Culture

Today, this year's Tour de France starts


I don't want to give here a lot infos re the sport, but more a bit about the part of Europe, the cyclists pass:


Today, it's Liège (French), Flemish Luik , German Lüttich
capital of Liège province, eastern Belgium, on the Meuse River at its confluence with the Ourthe. (The grave accent in Liège was officially approved over the acute in 1946.) The site was inhabited in prehistoric times and was known to the Romans as Leodium. A chapel was built there to honour St. Lambert, bishop of Maastricht, who was murdered there in 705. Liège became a town when St. Hubert transferred his see there in 721.

Under Notger, its first prince-bishop, it grew in importance as a centre of Liège principality and of the Mosan school of art and as a major European intellectual centre. After it was granted a communal magistracy (1185) and citizens' charter (1195), and the guilds were granted representation on the city council (1303), there was a struggle for power between the guilds and the nobles. The nobles failed in a sudden attack, and their armed party was burned to death by the populace in the church of Saint-Martin in 1312, an event known as Male Saint-Martin. Political equality was granted to the labourers and to most of the trade guilds in 1313.

During the 15th-century Burgundian domination of the Netherlands, Liège resisted and was sacked twice by Charles the Bold (1467, 1468). After Charles's death (1477) the city was rebuilt and experienced renewed prosperity in the 16th century under Prince-Bishop Evrard de La Marck. Renewed strife between the prince-bishops and the citizens resulted in the destruction of democratic institutions in 1684. The city was bombarded by the French in 1691 and taken by the English (1702) during the War of the Spanish Succession. A bloodless revolution ended the rule of the nobles in 1789; Liège was annexed to France in 1795 and assigned with the rest of Belgium to The Netherlands in 1815. Its citizens played an important part in the Belgian Revolution in 1830.

After Belgium became independent (1830), the city expanded and became a major industrial centre. Fortified in 1891, it became the main bastion of the Meuse defenses and was occupied by the Germans in both world wars; it suffered heavy aerial bombardment in World War II.

Now the commercial hub of the industrial Meuse Valley, its industries include iron and steel foundries, glassworks, coal mines, armament factories, and copper refineries. It is the third most important river port in western Europe and the second largest rail centre in Belgium; its airport is in nearby Bierset.

The cathedral (the former abbey church of Saint-Paul) contains the reliquaries of St. Lambert and Charles the Bold. Among many other Romanesque and Gothic churches in Liège are Saint-Denis, Saint-Jacques, Saint-Martin, Sainte-Croix (containing a gold triptych from 1150), and Saint-Barthélemy, with a baptismal font (1108). The palace of the prince-bishops (built in the 15th century and repaired in the 18th and 19th centuries) is now the Palais de Justice. Saint-Laurent, an old Benedictine abbey, has been a military hospital since 1796.

As the cultural centre of Wallonia (French-speaking Belgium), Liège has concert halls, theatres, an opera, and many fine museums?particularly those of fine arts and of Walloon life, the Ansembourg Museum of decorative art, the archaeological museum (in the Maison Curtius, c. 1600), the arms museum, and the house of the composer César Franck. The state university (1817) was entirely rebuilt in the 1960s on a new site to the south. The Royal Conservatory of Music (1887) is famous for the violin school established by Eugène Ysäye. There are also several national research laboratories and technical schools associated with the major industries of Liège.

Official website of Liège
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 09:17 am
Liege, daughter of the Meuse river. Liege is called 'La cité ardente', the fiery city. A city at the crossroads of Northern and Southern European culture. Liege is an old industrial centre which faces the challenge of adapting to the 21st century. Nowadays Liege is a rapidly changing city where old meets new. Take a walk through the old city centre and discover the typical traffic-free alleys and shopping streets where terraces abound. Visit the central St. Lambert square where a new modern Liege is growing. Take a walk alongside the banks of the majestically flowing Meuse river and see Liege from a distance.
The symbol of the city is the 'Perron' at the 'Place du Marché'. The monument represents the Province of Liege and the city freedoms. The original Perron had been demolished by Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Mary of Burgundy, however, had it reconstructed. The present Perron, designed in 1697 by Jean Delcour, consists of a octagonal fountain with arcades in which a column, carried by four lions, supports the Three Graces who carry a pine cone. Close to the Perron is the town hall of Liege, known as 'La Violette'.
Close to the Perron is the Place St. Lambert, Saint Lambert's square, with the most awesome building of the city : the former palace of the Prince-Bishops of Liege. It now functions as the Palace of Justice. The construction of the present palace was ordered by Prince-Bishop Everard van der Marck in 1526. The palace shows a remarkable mixture of styles. The outside was constructed in Italian Renaissance style, whereas for the interior the Gothic style was used. Especially in the inner square one can see the transition from late-gothic style to early Renaissance by looking at the large, hefty, chandelier-like columns of the side-corridors. After a visit to Liege, the French writer Victor Hugo wrote about the inner court of the palace : 'Nowhere have I seen a construction so remarkable, serious and grandiose at the same time'. The main facade which serves as entrance to the palace from St. Lambert's square, was built in 1737 and shows the quintessence of the French architectural style of the 18th century. The interior decoration is still the original one and gives an overview of the decorative arts in Liege from the second half of the 16th century until the era of Louis XVI.: chimneys, Brussels wall tapestries, painted wall-paper, etc.

The entire old city centre of Liege is one great collection of beautiful old private houses, most of which are built in the typical Moan style. Especially in the old streets 'Hors Chateau' and 'Feronstré' the visitor needs eyes on his back to admire this wonderful old charm. Also in both streets one is easily drawn away from the main road by the numerous picturesque little alleys and dead end streets, 'Les Impassés" where one quickly forgets that Liege is a large modern city with about 400.000 inhabitants.
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Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 09:19 am
You make a lovely tour guide Walter. I hope you will continue this thread as the riders complete the Tour.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 09:24 am
Museums in Liège
Liège has a number of very interesting museums with collections that rank among the most interesting in Belgium. Here is a selection of some of the most important museums to visit.

THE ARMS MUSEUM (Quai de Maastricht 8, 4000 Liège)
http://www.trabel.com/luik/images/arms.jpgIt is the second most important arms museum in Europe. It reminds the fact that Liège has been for a long time a center of arms trade to all parts of the world. Most arms were manufactured in the arms factories of Herstal, close to Liège. The collection is situated in a neo-classical house that was built between 1775 and 1779. During the French occupation the house was the seat of the Prefect of the 'Département de l'Ourthe'. Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in the house twice. Later, the Dutch governor stayed here. In 1858 it was bought by Pierre Joseph Lemille, an arms manufacturer and collector. After his death the city of Liège purchased the house for the arms collection. The museum possesses a total of more than 13.000 items. Only a selection is on display. It is an interesting visit for both the arms connoisseur and the curious visitor.

MUSEUM OF WALLOON ART ( En Feronstré 86, 4000 Liège)
This museum focuses on the art in the Walloon provinces of Belgium (Liège, Hainaut, Namur, Luxembourg and Walloon-Brabant). The works on display date from the 16th until the 20th century. The four-story modern building of the museum with its spiraling interior reminds one of the American museums. There are works from such artists as : Lambert Lombard (Liège 1505-1566), the Liège school of the 17th and 18th century (Gérard Douffet, Bertholet Flémalle, Jean Latour, and others), Léonard Defrance (1735-1805), Nicholas de Fassin (1728-1811), Xavier Mellery, François-Joseph Navez, Constantin Meunier. Also the 20th century is adequately represented: Léon Fréderic, Paul Delvaux, René Magritte, Anne Bonnet, Betrand, Bury, Delahaut.

MUSEUM CURTIUS (Quai de Maastricht 13, 4000 Liège)
Already the house in which this museum is situated, belongs to the most remarkable buildings in Liège. It was the house of the 17th century Liège patrician Jean de Corte, more known under his Latin name 'Curtius'. The collection , together with the collection of another museum , the MUSEE d'ANSEMBOURG, gives an splendid and extensive overview of archeology and decorative arts in the Liège area from Gallo-Roman times over the Middle-Ages to the 18th century. Some examples are : the gospel book of bishop Notger (ivory and enamel - 10th and 12th century), a Madonna from Dom Rupert. Other items of the collection are : souvenirs from the history of Liège, coins, seals and medals from the old Prince-Bishopric of Liège.

MUSEUM OF RELIGIOUS ART (Rue Mère-Dieu - 4000 Liège)
An overview of the development of religious art in the bishopric of Liège from the early Middle-Ages till modern times. http://www.trabel.com/luik/images/musrelig2.jpgThere is a lot of attention for the cult of Saint-Lambert with historical and iconographic testimonies as well as objects that have a relationship to the patron saint of Liège. The museum also possesses a scale model of the destroyed Saint Lambert cathedral.

The museum is housed in a former industrial edifice. The focus is on the industrial development of the area. There is a reconstruction of an authentic 17th century forge as well as a portrait of a modern steel workshop. Different non-ferro items (the famous zinc bathtub of Napoleon). Another section is about the evolution of 'energy-creation': (the Marly machine, the dynamo of Zenobe Gramme). There is also a separate section about information technology

THE GLASS MUSEUM (Quai de Maastricht 16 - 4000 Liège)
MUSEUM OF PREHISTORIC ARCHEOLOGY (Place du Vingt Août 7 - 4000 Liège)
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (Parc de la Boverie 3 - 4020 Liège)
MUSEUM OF WALLOON LIFE AND FOLKLORE (Cours des Mineurs - 4000 Liège)
TCHANTCHES MUSEUM (Rue Surlet 56 - 4020 Liège)

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 04:12 pm
Charleroi website
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 04:15 pm

Dans l'herbe noire

Les Kobolds vont.
Le vent profond
Pleure, on veut croire.

Quoi donc se sent ?
L'avoine siffle,
Un buisson gifle
œil au passant.

Plutôt des bouges
Que des maisons.
Quels horizons
De forges rouges
On sent donc quoi ?

Des gares tonnent,
Les veux s'étonnent,
Où Charleroi ?

Parfums sinistres!
Qu'est-ce que c'est ?
Quoi bruissait
Comme des sistres ?

Sites brutaux !
Oh ! votre haleine,
Sueur humaine,
Cris des métaux!
Dans l'herbe noire
Les Kobolds vont.
Le vent profond
Pleure, on veut croire.

Museum in Charleroi:

Three museums - one collection:

Website <click>

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 05:07 am
May I suggest to have a view besides the route?

The Meuse Valley:
Stretching from Givet to Yvoir, the Valley of the Meuse is certainly one of the most well-known in Belgium and indeed abroad.
Its highly diversified natural environment, one of poetic and unspoilt beauty, will allow you to admire its immense cliffs and vast expanses of woodland.
Castles, abbeys, the citadel and churches all bear witness to a long and tumultuous past.
From the Middle Ages up till today, one can admire these magnificent buildings of impressive majesty which are often surrounded by beautiful parks and gardens which unveil their rich history.

Latin Mosa , Flemish Maes , Dutch Maas river, rising at Pouilly on the Langres Plateau in France and flowing generally northward for 590 miles (950 km) through Belgium and The Netherlands to the North Sea. In the French part, the river has cut a steep-sided, sometimes deep valley between Saint-Mihiel and Verdun, and beyond Charleville-Mézières it meanders through the Ardennes region in a narrow valley. Entering Belgium at Givet, it continues northward to Namur, where it is joined on the left (west) bank by the Sambre River and then turns eastward to Liège. The Meuse there forms a natural routeway for river transport and is the centre of industrial development. At Liège it is deep and narrow and lies about 450 feet (137 m) below the plateau tops. The river turns north and from Maastricht (The Netherlands) to Maaseik (Belgium) forms the frontier between The Netherlands and Belgium. From Venlo (The Netherlands) it curves gradually west, reaches sea level and divides, one branch flowing into the Hollandsch Canal (an outlet of the North Sea), while another joins the Waal River (a channel of the Rhine) near Gorinchem to become the Merwede. Near Dordrecht the Merwede divides into the Noord to the north, which joins with the Lek River to become the Nieuwe Maas, and the Oude Maas to the south. The Nieuwe Maas and Oude Maas come together at the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway), which leads to the North Sea.

The Meuse River is navigable for most of its length and is one of the more important waterways of western Europe. In the vicinity of Maastricht, the Albert Canal extends northwestward from the Meuse to reach Antwerp, while the Juliana Canal parallels the Meuse's course northward into the southern part of The Netherlands. The Meuse and its canals are heavily traveled by small cargo ships and barges.

The valley of the Meuse River is a natural barrier that has historically formed part of the defenses on the approach to the heart of the Paris basin from the east. Its line has given great strategic importance to the fortress of Verdun and was the scene of heavy fighting in World War I. During World War II, the crossing of the Meuse River capped the successful German breakthrough into France in May 1940.


A nice website with a personal report: Along the valley of the Meuse (Maas)
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 11:45 am
Stage 2
Charleroi > Namur (Monday, July 5th)

A rail junction and centre of art and tourism, Namur is also industrial, its products including glass, paper, leather goods, steel products, and cement. Despite the wars and sieges, many architectural landmarks remain in Namur. These include the Baroque cathedral of St. Aubain, with noteworthy paintings and metalwork; the Jesuit church of St. Loup, with its columns of red marble; the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady, containing 13th-century treasures of silver and gold craftsmanship; and the Meat Hall (1588), housing the archaeological museum. Baroque (1632-48) horse stalls are a unique feature of the 17th-century church, Notre-Dame, which was transformed between 1770 and 1775 by the architect L.-B. Dewez. The Diocesan Museum exhibits the Carolingian shrine of Andenne and the golden crown and portable altar (1217) of the counts of Namur. A restored 11th-century bridge crosses the Meuse 4 miles (7 km) from Namur and is the place where King Albert I fell to his death while rock climbing in 1934.

City of Namur <click>

[edited: change of photo]
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 11:46 am
Today, Le Tour leaves Belgium for a short time (just for an hour, according to the Guide du Tour), to go

L'Avesnois, a natural parc in the north of France, http://www.tourisme-avesnois.com/fr/img/territoires/avesnois/carte_accueil.gif

with a French website <click>only Sad

Some info about nice place in the Avesnois:
Bavay http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/images/visit-bavay-romans-1.gif is the only Gallo-Roman site in France where we can see an entire forum. The site and remains are definitely worth a visit, and the Archeological Museum houses a collection of pottery from Prehistory to present day, and the largest collection of bronzeware in Europe.

The fortified town of Le Quesnoy http://www2.ac-lille.fr/et-lequesnoy/images/Le_Quesnoy.jpg is an excellent example of military engineer Vauban's 17th century architecture. The magnificent ramparts date from the 18th century and are very well preserved offering a delightful environment for walking and recreation. Also worth seeing are the old château of the Counts of Hainaut, the Town Hall and the Belfry with its delightful carillon which can be heard throughout the town at regular intervals. http://www.chez.com/lequesnoy/bastiondugard.jpg

And: waterzoï, potjevlesh, and tarte aux maroilles (a succulent cheese pie) are just a few great names from the typical culinary heritage there :wink:
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Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 12:27 pm
Thank you, Walter, I appreciate the effort you are making to do this thread. It's wonderful.
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Rick d Israeli
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 01:23 pm
The construction of the present palace was ordered by Prince-Bishop Everard van der Marck in 1526

This is NOT a lie: some of my ancestors were part of this family, "Van der Marck". They were of the blue blood Mr. Green
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Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 02:43 pm
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Rick d Israeli
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2004 02:45 pm
I tell you, I'm not lieing Cool
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Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2004 11:30 am
BEAUTIFUL thread, Walter.

But, where are the shopping malls?

If you keep this up, you'll send the wrong message about Europe: too much culture, too little consumerism.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2004 11:35 am
[Quite interesting for me today: the cyclists used some of the roads, I drove myself little more than two weeks ago :wink: ]

Stage 3 (Tuesday, July 6th)
Waterloo > Wasquehal

Waterloo, located 16 kilometres from Brussels, owes its universal reputation to the battle of Napoleon, on 18th June 1815 and to the "Morne Plaine" (dismal plain) so dear to Victor Hugo.



Wasquehal : located less than 250 km from four European capitals, Wasquehal has plenty of appeal. A veritable creator of companies, it is on the cutting edge of progress in communication and new technologies. Wasquehal has sport in its soul, and over the years has developed a certain art de vivre, with an abundance of association activities. The town is very conscious of its natural setting, and won its fourth award in 2004 in the national towns and villages in bloom contest. Culture is fed from a tender age, and is unrivalled in its richness and diversity.


Today (that is tomorrow :wink: ) the Tour leaves Belgium in the afternoon and passes

St-Amand-Les-Eaux also called Saint-Amand, town and spa, Nord département, Nord-Pas-de-Calais région, northern France, at the junction of the Elnon River with the canalized Scarpe River. It is situated 22 miles (35 km) southeast of Lille and 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Valenciennes, near the Belgian border.

Saint-Amand-les-Eaux was named for St. Amand, bishop of Tongres, who founded a Benedictine abbey in the area in 647; the second part of the name reflects the presence of the mineral waters and mud baths for which the town is still celebrated. The abbey was laid waste by the Normans in 882 and by the count of Hainaut in 1340.

Abbay, picture in the Museum in Valenciennes

Échevinage = 'jury house' of the abbey = magistrate

The town was captured by Mary of Burgundy in 1477, by the Count of Ligne, Charles V's lieutenant, in 1521, and finally in 1667 by the French. Roman statues and coins found in the baths indicate that at least the Romans, and perhaps earlier people, believed the mud baths to have restorative effects. A museum in the town holds relics of the once-famous Benedictine abbey, at which Hucbald (c. 840-930), musical theorist and scholar, was abbot and an exceptional collection of Saint-Amand eighteenth century earthenware. There is also an early 17th-century Baroque tower some 270 feet (82 m) high.

Thermal spa
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 5 Jul, 2004 11:46 am
Not far away is the biggest mining museum in France: Le Centre Historique Minier de Lewarde.

This "Historical Mining Centre" relates 3 centuries of coal mining in the Nord-Pas de Calais region. Accompagnied by former miners, you can "descend" into the reconstituted galeries.


Museum website (in English):
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 6 Jul, 2004 11:43 am
Stage 4 -
Cambrai > Arras Wednesday, July 7th


Before 1914 Cambrai had a prosperous textile economy based on the fabric cambric. Occupied by the Germans during both world wars and twice ravaged, the town has been revived. Cambrai now serves as the centre of a farming district rich in sugar beets, flax, grain, cattle feed, cattle, and dairy products. Industry includes textiles, building and construction equipment, woodworking, and food processing.

Cambrai had been badly destroyed at the end of WWII


town, capital of Pas-de-Calais département, Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, former capital of Artois, northern France, on the Scarpe River, southwest of Lille. Of Gallo-Roman origin, it was the chief town (Nemetacum or Nemetocenna) of the Atrebates, one of the last Gallic peoples to surrender to Caesar. The woollen industry dates from the 4th century. The Middle Ages was a period of great material and cultural wealth, when Arras became the English word for tapestry hangings. The fortunes of the town followed those of troubled Artois, and it passed through many hands before being joined for the last time to France in 1659 by the Treaty of the Pyrenees. A peace treaty (1435) was signed there by Philip the Good of Burgundy and Charles VII of France. The Peace of Arras in 1482 fixed the northern frontiers of modern France. From 1479 to 1484 Louis XI, after razing the walls, ordered a mass deportation of citizens. Arras was the birthplace of Robespierre. The French Revolution and both world wars destroyed many of its ancient buildings. The town centres on two arcaded and gabled squares, the Grande and Petite.


The reconstructed 16th-century Gothic Hôtel de Ville is on the Petite Place.


Tapestry making has long been extinct. Industry is diversified, the major employers representing the metallurgical, textile, and vegetable oil industries; the civil service is also a major employer. There is still an active agricultural market.

Balsac wrote a lot about a town close to the two above, in "Recherche de l'Absolu", namely about


is situated in flat country on the Scarpe River, 24 miles (39 km) south of Lille and 13 miles southwest of the Belgian border. It is the coal-mining centre of northern France and has important chemical and engineering works. Other industries include mining, printing, and the manufacture of railway equipment and automobiles. The original university, founded in 1562, was transferred to Lille in 1887, but Douai retains the aspect of a university town because of its numerous educational establishments. The magnificent Gothic belfry, built in 1380, is 130 feet (40 m) high and has a carillon of 49 bells, installed in 1954 to replace the one destroyed by the Germans during World War I. The church of Notre-Dame was badly damaged in 1944, but its 13th-century nave has been restored. The museum of the Carthusian monastery La Chartreuse (16th-18th century) has a fine collection of 16th-century paintings.

During the Middle Ages, Douai was ruled successively by the counts of Flanders and the dukes of Burgundy, Austria, and then Spain. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was the centre of exiled English Roman Catholics. In 1667 Louis XIV captured the town, and it was ceded to France the following year by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. The town was almost completely destroyed during the sieges of 1710 and 1712, was partly burned in 1918, and suffered greatly during World War II.

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 6 Jul, 2004 11:49 am
Chartreuse Museum

The museum is housed in a convent built in 1559 and extended in the 17th century.


It was damaged in two world wars, and needed much repair and restoration after being partly destroyed in a bombing raid in 1944, when parts of the collections were lost in the blaze.

http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/images/art-douai-vierge.jpg http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/art-images/douai-chartreuse-gallery.jpg

Location: Musée de la Chartreuse
130 rue des Chartreuse, 59500 DOUAI
Museum Information/ reservations:
Tel: 00 33 3 27 87 17 82
Like most French museums, it was established with artworks siezed from churches and monasteries. These include some medieval Gothic masterpieces, including two paintings by the Douaisien Jean Bellegambe.

The collection has been much diversified by later additions.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 6 Jul, 2004 11:59 am
Being in the North of France, what would you think of starting a "tour du canal"?


18th century French canals
By the 18th century, Louis XIV had brought Nord-Pas de Calais firmly within the frontiers of France. This dramatically severed the region from its natural waterway routes through what is now Belgium.

To create a new water route within the French frontier, the River Aa was canalised up to St-Omer, with a big tide lock near the sea at Gravelines. Behind the lock, the Canal de Bourbourg was cut through the marshes, linking the Aa to Dunkerque. Barges could trade along the coast without having to brave the North Sea

In 1760, the Neufosse canal was built to link the river Lys to the Aa, and give Lille and other inland towns a French route to the sea.

Nineteenth century canals
It was possible for inland barges to travel between the Flanders coast, Paris, and the rest of France via canal links between the major rivers. The Belgians built canals across the French frontier, to sell their coal to Paris and the North. Even when railways were built in the middle of the 19th century, canals in the North continued to carry huge amounts of bulk goods like coal and grain. In other parts of France there was not a coherent network of waterways and ports to compete with the railways.

Canal du Nord
The North's canals were improved and enlarged right up to recent decades: the Canal du Nord was a European-funded project in the 1960's to widen the canals to a broader guage from Dunkerque to Paris, so bigger, more economic powered barges could carry freight to compete with lorries. As part of this project, the 'Fontinettes' barge lift at Arques was replaced by one giant lock in 1967.
The last coalmine in the North closed in 1990, and the canals lost three quaters of their freight traffic. Newly peaceful, they are finding a new role in river tourism.

Swanny http://www.theotherside.co.uk/tm-heritage/images/visit-douai-swannyboat.gif
1251 Chemin du Halage
59500 DOUAI
Tel: 00 33 3 27 96 39 25
Fax: 00 33 3 27 96 26 12
Seats 50-120 dining passengers; Bar, DJ or band.
Tours along the Val de la Sensée to Lewarde (mining museum), the Musée du Vieux-Douai, the Musée de la Chartreuse, etc.

525 rue Emile Chevalier
Tel: 00 33 3 27 25 34 57
Fax: 00 33 3 27 34 85 18
'Eureka' seats 130 passengers on cruises, 80 if meals served.
Tours starting in Bouchain or Cambrai on l'Escaut and the Val de la Sensée to Douai, Vaucelles Abbey, etc.
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Wed 7 Jul, 2004 01:53 pm
Stage 5
Amiens > Chartres
Thursday, July 8th


city, capital of Somme département, Picardie région, principal city and ancient capital of Picardy, northern France, in the Somme River valley, north of Paris. Famed since the European Middle Ages are its textile industry and its great Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame, one of the finest in France. Known as Samarobriva in pre-Roman times and capital of the Ambiani (whence the modern name), Amiens became a Roman city, Christianized in the 4th century by St. Firmin, its first bishop. Its territory became the medieval countship of Amiénois, and its citizens profited from rivalry between bishop and count to gain a charter early in the 12th century. The Peace of Amiens (1802) marked a short pause in the Napoleonic Wars. In 1914, after a brief incursion into the city, the invading Germans dug in 18 miles (29 km) east; their final drive in 1918 was stopped 8 miles (13 km) from the city. In World War II, Amiens was occupied by the Germans. After serious damage in both wars, the city centre was rebuilt.
The old part of Amiens, including the reconstructed 17th-century city hall, the 15th-century Church of Saint-Germain, and the ancient theatre with the Louis XVI facade, is latticed with seven branches of the river.
The cathedral was begun in 1220 on the plans of Robert de Luzarches and was finished about 50 years later (there were subsequent additions). Its galleried and rose-windowed facade, pierced by three portals and topped by twin towers, is splendid. It has a remarkable interior with a soaring nave and bold supporting columns, employing the logic of Romanesque while imposing the open and dramatic qualities of Gothic.
Apart from textiles, there is some manufacturing, including machinery, chemicals, and tires. Truck farmers from the adjacent heavily watered bottom lands (hortillons) hold market in the city from small boats. Longeau, near Amiens, is an important railroad junction.


town, capital of Eure-et-Loir département, Centre region, northwestern France, southwest of Paris. The town is built on the left bank of the Eure River, and the spires of its famous cathedral are a landmark on the plain of Beauce. Wide boulevards, bordered by elms, encircle the old town with its steep, narrow streets that lead down to picturesque houses by the river. The modern city has seen much recent growth in the neighbouring plain, which is an important route between Paris and the Loire Valley; and toward Brittany.
The main part of the great cathedral of Notre-Dame at Chartres was built in less than 30 years in the mid-13th century, when high Gothic architecture was at its purest. This gives it a unity that is almost unique. The cathedral was built to replace a 12th-century church of which only the crypt, the base of the towers, and the west facade remain. Remarkable 13th-century stained-glass windows http://www.avecchambre.com/France/chartres_viergebleu.jpgand a Renaissance choir screen add to the beauty of the edifice. Another notable church is Saint-Pierre, built mainly in the 13th century. A museum is housed in the former Episcopal Palace, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chartres, named after a Celtic tribe, the Carnutes, who made it their principal Druidic centre, was attacked several times by the Normans and was burned by them in 858. In the Middle Ages it became a countship and was held by the families of Blois and Champagne. The city was sold to the king of France in 1286, but during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), the English occupied it for 15 years. Francis I raised it to the rank of a duchy in 1528. During the Wars of Religion, the Protestants attacked it unsuccessfully. Henry IV was crowned there in 1594. During World War II, the town was severely damaged. Chartres is a market town for the region of Beauce (the granary of France) and has agricultural industries (fertilizers and farm equipment). Other industries include brewing, perfumes, the manufacture of car accessories, and electronic equipment. The proximity of Paris has stimulated its economic development.

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