The Grand’Place and the Place des Héros, also known as the Petite Place or “little square”, are like no others in Northern Europe. They constitute a theatrical setting, an agora, a unique architectural ensemble, an age-old marketplace and long a favoured place for strolling: here, people have been taking the time to enjoy life for centuries!
Les Places – Truly moving places!
Grand’Place, Rue de la Taillerie, Place des Héros. Three places making an ensemble of stunning beauty.
You are carried away by the pirouette of houses and their scrolled gables. Enjoy the bustle of Arras in the Rue de la Taillerie before once again being overcome with vertigo as you gaze at the Belfry on the Place de Héros. A waltz of multiple beats, against a dream of a background .
A unique ensemble
155 facades punctuated by 345 columns : the houses on the Squares of Arras are listed as Historical Munuments.
Destroyed during the First World War, they were reconstructed in identical style. Galleries, arcades, bay windows, pilasters and street cellar entrances (entrances to the boves, the cellars of Arras): a veritable festival of architecture!
A sense of trade and celebration
Today, the markets on the Squares – the Grand’Place, the Place des Héros and the Place de la Vacquerie – are held every Wednesday and Saturday morning. They are among France’s finest and most typical markets. At the foot of the Belfry, more than 200 colourful and mouth-watering stalls offer local products, fruit and vegetables, meats, cheeses and authentic craft items.
It’s a real pleasure to shop in the open air, in a unique architectural setting. This tradition of exchange and trade has been passed down from the Middle Ages and is punctuated by festive events: the Festival of the Andouillette, the Christmas Market, the Illumination of the Belfry. You will love the positive energy exuded by the Squares of Arras.
A model of urban planning
This harmonious alignment of buildings with their arcades and scrolled gables leaves the onlooker awestruck.
United by diversity, each building on the Squares offers a different face. The First World War saw the destruction of this masterpiece, born of the royal will of Philip II of Spain. His edict of 1583 made construction in stone and brick mandatory and it was later followed by a series of building regulations which gave the Squares their incredible unity. Do make the most of the city centre trail which will reveal the little secrets harboured by some of these buildings, like the Maison des Trois Luppars (House of Three Leopards). And the origin of the French expression avoir pignon sur rue “to have a street-side gable” (and used figuratively to mean “to be well-established”) becomes all too clear.
La Petite Place or Place des Héros… but who are these heroes ?
The Rue de la Taillerie leads onto the Petit Marché, renamed Place des Héros to honour members of the Second World War Resistance movement.
Being a pedestrianised street, it leaves us as performers in our own right, masters of the space, to enjoy the view of the Belfry which looks down on us from its full height, and of the Town Hall covered in symbols of opulence. Trade has been a feature here since the twelfth century. Tempted by a trip back in time? Then head for the Timescope looking glass. At the corner of the Rue de la Housse, this innovative machine takes us on a virtual reality leap back to Medieval Arras. It’s sensational. In particular when the Chapel of the Holy Candle and the Maison Rouge appear. These are two long-gone historical buildings whose outlines are laid out on the cobbles of the Square. An immersive experience which turns us into heroes on a unique odyssey back in time.
You will take the time to enjoy life
The squares of Arras invite you to lift your gaze, to interact, to breathe in a unique art de vivre and to re-energise.
Here, a restaurant nestling in a cellar, there, a themed bar; a little further on, shops selling products of the local terroir and local specialities. Life is good here, enlivened in particular on market days. The squares come alive with the sights and aromas of colourful and bustling stalls. In the evening, dreamers and those who are creating another world under the sheltering arcades are gently lulled by their glowing lights. Do come, there are still so many wonderful stories to tell…