Just 15 minutes from Arras, Village Patrimoine© labelled Hermaville has lost none of its historic pastoral charm. With its combination of white stone and brick, its architecture tells the story of the local traditions and history. It can be discovered step by step along a trail that unlocks the secrets of some unexpected little treasures.
A pastoral village
Don’t be misled by its appearance as a crossroads village. Hermaville is peppered with bucolic little roads that tell of an ancient history, from as far back as the Gallo-Roman period.
A rustic soul that is set aglow by the typical white stone of Artois. There is a very good reason why the walking trail through the village is called “Les Porches”. Typical of Artois, imposing manor farms with enclosed courtyards and boasting substantial entrance gateways (porches in French) punctuate the route, in particular along the rue d’Arras. The trail leads past the Ferme Saint-Georges which used to belong to the château, now a superb privately-owned building; it is closed to the public but its exterior can be admired.
A living heritage
The trail leads on to another rather unusual feature of local agricultural life: a nineteenth century cart-house.
Take the time to view the pastoral landscape through its wooden beams. In the background, a copse of trees was the original site of a bandstand which has been re-erected by the municipality just behind the town hall. It now hosts festivals and gatherings for the 560 villagers. Because they love their heritage here and are at pains to preserve it.
A village standing witness to history
Another example is this wooden lodge in the Rue Izel-lez-Hameau.
It tells of the incident on 21 May 1940 when the German Totenkopf division set fire to the village. After the war, the villagers were rehoused in temporary lodges such as this. Out of the original ten or so, this is the last to remain standing and it was occupied until the 1950s. A rare piece of heritage that reminds us today of a forgotten page in history.
A crocketed spire
Here is the Church of Saint-Georges and its crocketed spire, typical of the Pays d’Artois. It is part of the Eglises Ouvertes (Open Churches) network.
Rebuilt in the eighteenth century, its interior is astonishing for its luminosity and space. In striking contrast to the massive feel of the tower, which is of more ancient origin. Make the most, too, of the guided visits to climb up to the bell tower and see the seventeenth century graffiti! Then discover these famous crockets. They are ornamental yet practical first and foremost: battens would be attached to them to enable maintenance of the spire. These crocket spired churches still punctuate the Artois countryside, which certainly has many secrets to yield up.
Hermaville in practice
- Two complementary routes can be followed for a discovery of Hermaville: the unmarked “Village Patrimoine” trail (7 waypoint panels) intersects the discovery walk “Les Porches” (2km loop, 1 hour) a map of which can be found on a panel at the town hall.
- The “Le Chemin de la Vertu Bleue” walking trail, 12.5 km, 3 hours, starts at the church in Hermaville. .
- Le sentier « Le Rideau Du Diable », 12,5 km, 3 heures au départ d’Habarcq passe par Hermaville.
- The “Le Rideau Du Diable” path, 12.5 km, 3 hours, starts from Habarcq and passes through Hermaville. http://campagnesartois.fr/decouvrir-le-territoire/les-sentiers-de-randonnee
Places to stay in Hermaville:
Gîte Le Riez aux chandelles (4 pers.) No restaurant.
Gîte les Aubépines (5 pers.)
- Gîtes Le Riez aux chandelles (4 pers.) No restaurant.
- Gîte les Aubépines (5 pers.)
- To find out more: Office de Tourisme des Campagnes de l’Artois Tourist Office – 1050 Avenue François Mitterrand – 62810 Avesnes-le-Comte. Tel: +33 (0)3 21 220 200 – http://www.campagnesartois.fr