Arras (Dutch: Atrecht) is a city and commune in northern France, préfecture (capital) of the Pas-de-Calais département. In 1999, its population was 43,567.



Originally settled by the Celtic tribe of the Atrebates, it later became a Roman garrison town known as Atrebatum.

It is located in the former Dutch and French province of Artois (Dutch: Artesië). For many centuries, Arras was on the border between France and the Netherlands and it frequently changed hands before firmly becoming French in the late seventeenth century, the fortifications upgraded by Vauban helping keep it in French hands. The town was closely linked to the trade of Flanders and later became an important centre for sugar beet farming and processing and became a prosperous market centre.

The Union of Atrecht was signed here in January 1579 by the states of the Low Countries that were loyal to king Philip II of Habsburg; it provoked the declaration of the Union of Utrecht later the same month. Arras was also the birthplace of Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), French revolutionary leader.

During the First World War, Arras was near the front a long series of battles nearby are known as the Battle of Arras in which a series of medieval tunnels beneath the city, unknown to the Germans, became a decisive factor in the French holding the city. The city, however, was heaviliy damaged and had to be rebuilt after the war. In the Second World War the town was occupied by the Germans and 240 suspected French Resistance members were executed in the Arras citadel.


The centre of the town is marked by two large squares. The Grande Place and the Place des Heros. These are surrounded by buildings restored to the pre-war conditions. Most notable are the gothic town hall and the cathedral.

Vimy Memorial is memorial just North of the City honouring a major WW I Canadian battle.

In Literature

Arras is commonly a setting in many famous works of French literature, such as Cyrano de Bergerac, the fourth act of which takes place during the French siege of Arras in 1640 during the Thirty Years' War. Arras also makes an appearance in Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables where it is the scene of Champmathieu's trial.

External link

eo:Arras fr:Arras gl:Arras nl:Arras ja:アラス pl:Arras ro:Arras sv:Arras


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