How to visit Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin? - UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali

A ROAD TRIP IN NORTHERN FRANCE TO VISIT ITS UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
AN ULTIMATE TRAVEL GUIDE TO VISIT THE NORD-PAS-DE-CALAIS MINING BASIN

Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slag heaps in Haillicourt. Photo by: Benoît Diéval.

Cité des Électriciens UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin
Cité des Électriciens. Photo by: Benoît Diéval.

Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slagheaps
Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slag heaps in Haillicourt

Chevrette du Terril Nord-Pas de Calais
Biking from Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourism office to Cherettes du Terril. Photo by: Benoît Diéval.

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin
Lewarde Mining History Centre

One of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France is on the northern border of France along the Belgian border - the strip from Valenciennes to Bethune - called the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin. While it is super close to Brussels, it is not very easy to do it by public transport. The 2 ways to explore this region are either by car or by bike, which is why it took some time for me to finally head there. 
So, here's your ultimate travel guide to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin - places to visit, how to visit by car, how to visit by public transport, tickets, timings, Nord-pas de Calais mining basin hotels, itinerary for 2 days by car & by bike, and more. 

HOW TO VISIT NORD-PAS DE CALAIS MINING BASIN?
When I decided to visit the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining basin, my biggest challenge was, of course, the mode of transport. The thing about the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining basin is that it is spread across a huge area. The strip of land in the region from approximately Valenciennes to Bethune covers a length of 120km and a width of 12km. 353 individual sites are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin. 
The region around Valenciennes is considered the Cultural Cradle of the mining basin; the region around Douai is considered the Institutional Heart of the mining basin; the region around Lens is considered the Social Heart of the mining basin and the region around Bethune are the mines in the rural areas.
Depending on public transport is possible but you'll need quite a few days to cover at least the major places to visit in Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin. The best would be your own mode of transport which could be a car or bike. I was lucky to be accompanied by a friend with a car to visit all the below-listed places in 2 days. At the end of the article, I will also give you an idea of how to visit these places depending on public transport.

WHAT ARE THOSE NUMBERS ASSIGNED TO THE MINES?
Well, each of the mineshafts has been assigned a number and each of the slag heaps have also been assigned a number. Here's an interactive map of the region via the official website of the region -  Bassin Minier Patrimoine Mondiale. If you click on the legends, and deactivate everything except Terrils, it will show all the Slag Heaps in the area with the numbers assigned to the Slag heaps as well as the numbers of the Shafts/Pits associated with those Slag Heaps. 

Cité des Électriciens UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Cité des Électriciens UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Cité des Électriciens UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Cité des Électriciens UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Cité des Électriciens UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

CITÉ DES ELECTRICIENS
My first stop in Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin was Cité des Électriciens. This is an excellent starting point because it gives a clear overview of the entire region along with a map of how the mining industry developed and declined over the years, region by region. One of the highlights here is we get to understand the region in the architectural PoV - how the township, community, architecture, etc changed over more than a century of coal mining in this region. Miniature models made of wooden blocks explained how the township evolved from Corons, to Suburban Cities, to Modern Cities to Garden Cities.
Cite des Electriciens is the oldest of the mining sites in the Pas-de-Calais basin founded in 1826. This is quite awesome because everything in this Interactive Center is quite interactive and keeps the attention of kids too. There are places where the kids could rearrange wooden blocks to make their own townships. There are, of course, touchscreen, digital displays, and audio headsets.
Out of the Interactive Centre, my first stop was at the little farm(-ette?). Basically, there were only a few rabbits and Atyudarini absolutely loved petting & holding them. Then, it was time to explore the township and some of the houses to see how the house of a coalmine worker here was. It began with the nameplate in front of the house which indicated the worker's name, family members, address, and other details. There was an exhibition of historic photos inside as well as some modern art, in some of the houses. There was one house with nothing inside to depict how it was originally - with blue wall paint, a room with a window on the first floor, etc.
10 of the miners' houses (social housing) have been renovated and are still being used for social housing projects. 3 houses have been renovated and rented out to artists to stay for a year and realize their projects in the premises. Their artworks were the ones displayed in some of the houses. 
It is also possible to stay here inside Cité des Électriciens as well. 5 of the miners' houses here have been converted to apart-hotels where tourists can stay for a night or more. The capacity of each house varies from 2 persons to 8 persons. I didn't stay here overnight, so I cannot personally review it for you in terms of comfort or facilities or say how the place feels in the middle of the night. But I can imagine it to be peaceful with a sky filled with stars (away from the city's light pollution).

Where is Cité des Électriciens (on Google Maps)Cité des Électriciens
How to reach Cité des Électriciens? 5km from Vis à Marles railway station; 6 mins (500m) from the nearest bus stop
Cité des Électriciens tickets: €6
Cité des Électriciens timings: Wed-Sun 1:00PM to 6:00PM

Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slagheaps

Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slagheaps
Photo by: Benoît Diéval.

Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slagheaps

Terrils du Pays a Part Twin Slagheaps Chardonnay Vineyard
View of grapes plantation for Charbonnay wines from Haillicourt. 

TERRILS DU PAYS À PART, HAILLICOURT 
The next site we headed to was Haillicourt. This was our first stop at an actual slag heap (called a Terril in French). Now, what is a Slag Heap / Terril? When coal mining happens, they obviously dug up the ground to mine for coal. Whatever was not coal - rocks, stones, soil, dirt, even fossils were all heaped up as, what could be described as, little hills! 
Terrils du Pays a Part are Twin such slag heaps, meaning two such black hills (Slag Heap 2 & Slag Heap 3), which were created by the Shaft/Pit No: 6. Today, it is possible to climb Slag Heap 2! It is easy with a series of stairs as well as a nice viewpoint at 180m making it easier for kids to climb. Atyudarini loved it! There are 420 stairs though, so set aside ample time for this. But being outside with spectacular views and soothing breeze, it doesn't feel difficult (unlike climbing spires & towers). 
From this point, it is possible to see the entire region with all its green fields with the other black hill in the foreground. Just incredible. It is super windy up there, so definitely wear your layers. 
There are 3 different way-marked trails from Parking of 2km, 5.5km, and 14km. I just did the 2km hike directly from Parking to the peak of Slag Heap 2. 

Where is Terrils du Pays a Part (on Google Maps)Parking terrils jumeaux Haillicourt
How to reach Terrils du Pays a Part? 3km from Cité des Électriciens
Way-marked trails at Terrils du Pays a Part, Haillicourt: via Bethune Tourism (downloads/opens as PDF)

CHARBONNAY WINES & VINEYARD
That's a funny twist to the name Chardonnay with Charbon (Coal in French). Slag Heap no:9 has vineyards planted all over it. However, it is not open for visitors, but a drive-along Rue de la Libération will lend you stunning views of the vineyards along the slopes of the slag heap.

Where can I get a view of Charbonnay Vineyards from (on Google Maps)Rue de la Libération
Where is Slag Heap no:9 (on Google Maps): Slag Heap No:9

Louvre Lens Museum

Louvre Lens Museum

Louvre Lens Museum

Louvre Lens Museum

Louvre Lens Museum

LOUVRE-LENS MUSEUM
My next stop was the Louvre-Lens Museum. Yes, as the name suggests, louver-lens is a branch of the Louvre Museum in Paris. Quite amusingly, there is no entry ticket to Louvre Lens, none at all; it is open to all for free! 
The major attraction of the Louvre-Lens Museum is its permanent exhibition which has more than 200 masterpieces loaned here by the Louvre Museum in Paris! The permanent exhibition is called Galerie du Temps (The Gallery of Time) where the pieces have been displayed in chronological order from 4th Millenium BCE to 19th C CE in one single stretch. The room is a humongous with 3000 sqm area and 120m length. This is perhaps the most unusual fine-arts museum that I've been to. Usually every other museum is split into various rooms for each art era and region, but here, it is one single straight passage through time! Even though it is called the Permanent Exhibition and even though the concept is permanent, the individual pieces of art keep changing once every year with new loans from the Louvre Museum in Paris. Unlike most other museum, unlike the Louvre in Paris, here, the museum building itself is very simple, streamlined, and contemporary, so there's nothing to divert you from the actual masterpieces on display. It is made of aluminum and concrete only which lends a hazy reflection on the walls, making the experience even more inwards.
Pavillon de Verre (Glass Pavilion) is another gallery which is an extension at the end of the Galerie du Temps. As the name suggests, the room's walls are all made of glass and the experience is more outwards. This is set aside for temporary exhibitions & contemporary art. 
The location of the Louvre-Lens museum was originally the spot where Shaft/Pit No.9 existed. The entire region is like a plateau, created by the slag heaps of this mine. The architecture of the museum was designed by a Japanese team who won the design contest with their proposal to make a seamless architecture that blended the coal mines, slap heaps, and the reclaimed greenery of the landscape into the museum building.

Where is Louvre-Lens (on Google Maps)? Musée du Louvre-Lens
How to reach Louvre-Lens? 1km (14 mins walk) from Loos-en-Gohelle railway station
Louvre-Lens ticket: Free
Louvre-Lens timings: Closed on Tuesdays. Open on all other days 10:00AM to 06:00PM

Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin
Photo by: Benoît Diéval.

Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin
View of Vimy Ridge Memorial from 74B

Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

LOOS-EN-GOHELLE - TWIN HIGHEST SLAG HEAPS 
The highlight of Nord-Pas de Calais is the Twin Slagheaps. It is such an icon of the region that the snowglobes of the Tourism Office of Nord-Pas de Calais region have them! This is Shaft/Pit No: 11/19 and Slag Heaps 74, 74a and 74b. 
The tallest of the twin slag heaps is No:74, at 188m. To give you a point of reference, if you've been to London, 180m is the height of Gherkin Tower and that's 50m taller than London Eye; if you've been to India, 182m is the height of the Statue of Unity which is also the world's tallest statue! Here's something remarkable if you think about it, the 180m tall hill is completely made of dirt dug up out of the ground when coal was being mined here, basically this is coal-waste, an entire hill made of coal-waste! It's remarkable! There's more, this dirt comes from deep under the surface of the earth which means it has fossils!!!
The height of the other of the twin peaks (74A) is only slightly shorter at 187m. While it was possible to scale the tallest peak until a few years ago, it isn't anymore. Since the last couple of years, the 'hill' has started to get a bit unstable and the whole hill has been barred from climbing. I was told that reaching the absolute peak of that hill was quite something and needed some fitness with the last part requiring, holding some rope and scaling a steep bit. Anyway, none of that is possible anymore. However, the 2nd tallest peak is perfectly suitable for climbing, but that requires quite a bit of strength and of course, time! 
Slag heap 74 has something like a wooden staircase. Well, it isn't! It is something like a rail that was used to transport wagons containing waste (slag) to the top of the hill when coal mining still happening. 
Of course, if you're lucky, you could spot hares, badgers, butterflies and much more. You will definitely spot some little fossils for sure! However, I didn't get to climb up the hill but only chose to hike up to the base hill (the plateau slap heap between the slag heap hills). This is Slag Heap 74B and is the central point between the 2 hills with a fantastic view of the entire town. This point is just 1.4km from the parking/base, but a bit of an upward ascent (not a steep climb as climbing the hill itself).
As I mentioned earlier, it is possible to hike up the 2nd slag heap. This is a dirt track and not a paved path/staircase. It is possible to hike/bike up there. I spotted a father and son duo breezing down the slag heap on their bikes from the plateau point where I was. 

Where is the parking of Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle: Twin Slagheaps
How to reach the Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle: 750m (11 min walk) from Loos-en-Gohelle railway station
Where is the viewpoint between the Twin Slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle: Slag heap 74b
Hiking route from Parking to Peak of Twin Slagheaps: via Cirkwi

la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

la Trouee d'Arenberg UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

LA MARE À GORIAUX NATURE RESERVE, LAKE & VIEWPOINT
On day 2, my first stop was at la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve. After a short hike of about 500m from the parking lot, we reached the viewpoint. Here's the thing, just like Loos-en-Gohelle, a Mare à Goriaux is also a slag heap, however, this is not like a hill, but more like a plateau that is 2km long! So once you climb up a bit, then the terrain gets flat, and it stays flat at that level for quite a bit, like a plateau! Now, comes the more stunning aspect - since the land beside it is at a lower level, it forms an awesome waterbody by rainwater collection. Thanks to this water collection, this has created a beautiful ecosystem with birch trees. The view of black slag heaps with the blue waterbody and green birch trees is, just, so stunning. The waterbody alone covers an area of 90 hectares (the whole reserve covers 270 hectares) and is the home to at least 300 varieties of birds, making it one of the best places for birding in France. There is a 6.5km long walking route that goes around the waterbody. Unfortunately, it was rather cloudy when we went; but I can imagine how stunning the place would look when it is sunny and when those colors of the sky, water, trees & soil really show! After spending quite some time there, we were off to our next spot.

Where is la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve (on Google Maps)Mare à Goriaux
Where is the parking of la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve (on Google Maps)Parking du site de la mare à Goriaux
How to reach la Mare à Goriaux Nature Reserve? 3km from Raismes railway station
Walking Map of Goriaux Nature Reserve: via la Porte du Hainaut Tourism Office (downloads/opens as PDF)

LA TROUÉE D’ARENBERG 
Our next stop was la Trouee d'Arenberg. It is quite an amusing site. It is a 2.3km long cobbled street which, at first glance looks like any other cobbled street in Europe. This is particularly special because of 2 reasons - 1. It was laid during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte to help cross the Saint-Amand-Wallers forest. 2. This forms a section of the one-day professional biking competition Paris–Roubaix. 
The road is 3m wide, has uneven cobblestones, and goes through the middle of the forest with lush greenery or snow (if you go in the right season). I didn't venture much to walk into it. At the beginning of the road is a memorial to Jean Stablinski, a French professional cyclist of the 1950s and 60s. 

Where is la Trouee d'Arenberg (on Google Maps)La Trouée d'Arenberg
How to reach la Trouee d'Arenberg? 3km from Wallers railway station

Arenberg Mine UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Arenberg Mine UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Cité Sainte-Marie UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Chevrette du Terril Nord-Pas de Calais

Chevrette du Terril Nord-Pas de Calais

ARENBERG MINE
Arenberg Mine is located right there, beside Trouee d'Arenberg. Unlike some of the other mines which are located in the region, the Arenberg Mine has been converted into a creative center and is called Arenberg Creative Mine. It is a center of excellence dedicated to the image and digital media - quite a futuristic theme for a coal mine! While it is possible to visit parts of the mine as a part of a guided group tour, normally it is not open to the general public and is a dedicated space for artists to work on their creative outputs. That said, it is really nice to walk around the streets to have a feel of how the people, the miners would have lived in those very houses. 

Where is Arenberg Mine (on Google Maps)Site minier d'Arenberg
How to reach Arenberg Mine? 3km from Wallers railway station
Arenberg Mine timings & tickets? Not applicable!

CHEVRETTES DU TERRIL - BEST THING TO DO WITH KIDS
The word Chevre in French means Goat, so 'Chevrette du Terril' literally means the 'Goats of the Slag Heaps'. Les Chevrettes du Terril is a charming little goat farm in the region. If you are traveling with kids, this place is not to be missed. Of course, you can purchase from farm fresh goat milk, cheese, etc! Most definitely this is one of the best places to visit with kids, in the region.
The best way to visit les Chevrettes du Terril is by hiring a bike from Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourism office and biking about 2.5km to les Chevrettes du Terril. While you're there, also don't miss the charming houses in the neighborhood around the tourism office. These are the Cité Lemay and Cité Sainte-Marie which are part of the 353 sites under the UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin.

Where is Chevrettes du Terril (on Google Maps)Les Chevrettes du Terril
Where is Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourism office (on Google Maps)Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourisme
How to reach Chevrettes du Terril? 2.5km from Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourism office
Chevrettes du Terril timings:
Chevrettes du Terril tickets: Free to enter

E-bike rental in Montigny-en-Ostrevent half-day price - €16
E-bike rental in Montigny-en-Ostrevent full-day price - €24
Refundable deposit for E-bike in Montigny-en-Ostrevent - €900
Mountain bike rental in Montigny-en-Ostrevent half-day price - €8
Mountain bike rental in Montigny-en-Ostrevent half-day price - €12
Refundable deposit for Mountain bike in Montigny-en-Ostrevent - €400
Trailer carriage for kids -  €5
Phone number of Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourisme office - 0033 (0) 03 27 08 45 06
Location of Bike Rentals in Montigny-en-Ostrevent Cœur d'Ostrevent Tourisme

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

Lewarde Mining History Centre UNESCO Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin

LEWARDE MINING HISTORY CENTRE
Lewarde Mining History Centre is the absolute place to visit to understand the mining history and geography of the region. If you haven't been to any coal mines earlier, this in fact, could be a good place to start to understand what coal mining is, how is coal mined, what are the physical structures required to mine coal, how was the life and livelihood of the coalminers, how was the structure of the society when coal mining was happening in the region, etc. 
Also read: Coal mines in Belgium - Bois de Cazier, Bois de Luc, Grand Hornu, and Blegny Mine.
Lewarde Mining History Centre is huge, sprawling over 8 hectares of land! The most interesting section here is, of course, the underground mining experience simulation! However, before heading there, we headed to the 'Origins of Coal' area which is more about the geological and geographical aspects of coal. This is very interesting for Atyudarini who could compare the age of coal with dinosaurs! 
The next section was about the sociological and anthropological aspects of coal mining - the different types of townships that existed, working hours, rights, role of women, and in general about how mining evolved in the region over the almost 3 centuries that it existed here.  
The next part is where we dive into the actual, historic mining site of Delloye Colliery, where the museum is currently housed. There is a room for hanging the uniform (this is hung atop close to the ceiling to aerate it and let it dry quicker), a room for getting the lamp against your badge, etc.
Beyond this is the most fascinating part of the museum - a simulated underground environment to explain precisely how these coalworkers worked. In reality, this is on ground level, but you feel like you're underground and everything from the tunnel, galleries, life-sized sculptures of the various type of workers, wagons, incl. wagons pulled by horses. This was very exciting from Atyudarini because the last time we ventured into a coal mine was at Blegny Mine near Liege in Belgium when she was hardly a year old. Complete with the helmet, it was one awesome experience. 

Here's a tip: Wear sturdy shoes. The simulated environment is close to real with very uneven grounds. 

Where is Lewarde Mining History Centre (on Google Maps)Centre Historique Minier de Lewarde
How to reach Lewarde Mining History Centre? 4.3km from Montigny-en-Ostrevent railway station
Lewarde Mining History Centre Timings? Mar-Nov: 9:00AM to 07:00PM (last entry at 05:00PM); Winter - Tue-Sat: 01:00PM to 06:00PM; Sundays & Holidays: 10:00AM to 06:00PM
Lewarde Mining History Centre Tickets? €13.50

BEST HOTELS IN NORD-PAS DE CALAIS MINING BASIN

ROYAL HAINAUT IN VALENCIENNES - BEST HOTELS IS IN VALENCIENNES
Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes is by far one of the best hotels in France. On the orders of Louis XV and under the leadership of Pierre Constant d'Ivry, his architect, the hospital construction began in 1752. It took a whopping 15+ years to complete and it was in 1774 that the construction of the chapel was completed. It was then called the 'Hospital Palace'. Since 1945 it has been declared a historic monument. Much recently, in 2019 it was converted to a hotel. 
Even before you enter the hotel, it looks majestic, with its sprawling frontage. The cobbled pathway from the main entrance leads, through the 3500sqm inner courtyard, which leads to the actual entrance. The lobby is palatial with a high glass ceiling and a grand a grand staircase with gorgeous chandeliers. It was absolutely magnificent. The hotel has a spa with a heated pool underground. There's also a very nice restaurant here called Le Storia. The rooms themselves were majestic and had a high ceiling & French windows with stone arches around them! 
Of course, the room had all the basic amenities including a hairdryer, mini bar, coffee machine etc. To help go to the spa and pool, the room also had bathrobes and bath slippers. There are 42 suites and 37 rooms at Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes. The only thing is, I was a bit sad that I didn't get to spend more time here at the hotel. 

Where is Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes (on Google Maps): Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel
How to reach Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes10 mins walk (700m) from Gare de Valenciennes Railway Station
Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel Phone number+33327351515
Reserve a room at Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennesvia the official site of Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel
Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel room ratesBegins at €200 for a Deluxe Room with double occupancy

Review of Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes

Review of Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes

Review of Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes

Review of Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes

Review of Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel in Valenciennes

LES BETHUNOISES - BEST HOTELS IN BETHUNE
The hotel Les Bethunoises is a very small charming hotel right at the central square with a view of the Belfry. It has just about 10 rooms, each decorated in a different way. The hotel is cute and adorable with all the basic facilities. The best part about this hotel was the morning breakfast. Because it has just 10 guests at any given time, the breakfast was almost like a very personal affair around a large dining table with a moving top.  
The hotel Les Bethunoises has a sauna room and a spa available on demand. Again, unfortunately, I didn't spend too much time here apart from the night to experience the soul-soothing facilities.

Where is Hotel Les Bethunoises in Bethune (on Google Maps): Hotel Les Bethunoises 
How to reach Hotel Les Bethunoises in Bethune17 mins walk (1.2km) from Gare de Bethune Railway Station. 2 mins walk (140m) from Bethune Grand Place & Bethune Belfry
Hotel Les Bethunoises Phone number+33 (0)6 30 89 61 69
Reserve a room at Hotel Les Bethunoises in Bethunevia the official site of Les Bethunoises
Hotel Les Bethunoises room ratesBegins at €100 for a Deluxe Room with double occupancy

CITÉ DES ELECTRICIENS HOLIDAY HOMES
As I mentioned above 5 miners' houses here have been converted to apart-hotels. The capacity of each house varies from 2 persons to 8 persons. I did visit the rooms for a quick look, but didn't stay there, so I honestly have no review of it. The rooms look absolutely awesome with all the amenities. Booking a stay here will give you free entrance to the Cité des Électriciens site.

Review of Hotel Les Bethunoises in Bethune
Hotel Les Bethunoises

Review of Hotel Les Bethunoises in Bethune
Hotel Les Bethunoises

Review of Hotel Les Bethunoises in Bethune
Hotel Les Bethunoises

Review of Holiday Home at Cite des electricians
Cité des Électriciens Holiday Home

Review of Holiday Home at Cite des electricians
Cité des Électriciens Holiday Home

NORD-PAS DE CALAIS MINING BASIN ITINERARY

NORD-PAS DE CALAIS MINING BASIN ITINERARY BY CAR
I followed the below itinerary with my starting point at Bethune and ending point at Valenciennes, from where I took the return train to Brussels.
Day 1:
Cité des Électriciens, Terrils du Pays à Part at Haillicourt, Loos-en-Gohelle twin slag heaps.
Overnight stay at Valenciennes 
Day 2:
La Mare à Goriaux, La Trouée d’Arenberg, Arenberg Creative Mine, Chevrettes du Terril, Lewarde mining history centre.

NORD-PAS DE CALAIS MINING BASIC ITINERARY BY TRAIN+BIKE
If you do not have a car you will have to take your bike by train. The below itinerary is for 2 days, but for a more relaxed trip, do it in 3 days. Keep a tab on the train schedule. While trains run once every hour on weekdays, during weekends the frequency is much lower with once in 2-3 hours. 
Day 1:
First, reach Valenciennes. Take the local train to Wallers.
This is about 4km from Arenberg Mine, and then 1km to reach Trouee d'Arenberg and Mare à Goriaux.
Take the same direction train from Wallers again to Gare de Somain (the very next station).
Ride 5km to visit Les Chevrettes du Terril and bike around the Cité Lemay region (further 3km away).
Visit Lewarde Mining History Centre which is about 7km from Cité Lemay locality.
Then, take the same direction train again from Montigny-en-Ostrevent (the station next to Gare de Somain already) to Lens.
Stay overnight at Lens.
Day 2:
Visit Louvre Lens and Loos-en-Gohelle Twin Slag heaps (5km away).
Take the train from Lens again and go to Vis à Marles. There's no direct train, so you'll have to change at Bethune. 
Cité des Électriciens is about 5km from Vis à Marles. 
Les Terrils du Pays à part is further 4km away. 

Bethune Belfry
Bethune Belfry

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Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. I had no idea of the existence of this Unesco site. And I was in Calais just last week, driving to Belgium from the UK. Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin seems huge to explore in just one day, so this two days itinerary is very handy. The Cite des Electriciens looks like a great place to start your trip to this area, to understand the mining history and why this is a Unesco site. Good to know that you need transport in order to move around, due to how big the area is. How interesting that the branch of the Louvre museum there doesn't charge at all.

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  2. Good to know in advance that visiting the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin requires a car if we were not up to visiting by bike. We would want to plan to see the major places that are spread out over a larger area. A stop at the Cite de Electriens sounds like the perfect first place to learn more about the entire region. Fun that you could actually stay in a former miner’s cabin! And I would definitely not pass on checking out the Charbonnay wines and vineyards. But would hope there is no taste of coal. An interesting trip visiting different slag heaps in the region. Especially if you collected some fossils along the way. Thanks for providing a few itinerary options.

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  3. I just spent a few days in Belgium and realized (again) how much there is to see in this little country. I am very interested in visiting UNESCO sites too - so your guide to the mining towns of Nord-Pas de Calais comes at the right time. Starting at the Interactive Centre and planning for two days in the area is a smart idea. I often find that understanding these off-the-beaten-path UNESCO sites really takes some time. Exploring by bicycle is a great way to see a lot.

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  4. This is such a great guide to Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin. I have never been to a mining basin before and I am glad I know about this place now. This historic site fascinated me and I would definitely visit it when I come to France. I did love to plan a stay there as well. The vineyards and Louvre-Lens Museum also look like places worth exploring. I am also pretty sure my son would also enjoy visiting Chevrette du Terril. Thank you for sharing all the detailed information.

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  5. That art history teacher in you shone through in this detailed article! Very impressive nuggets about the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin. It is good to know about the size of the place and equally that not all places are easily reachable via public transportation. For a place this size, it is essential to get an overview as you did in the Cite des Electriciens. All in all great to be introduced to this Unesco site where one can get in-depth to know the history of mining here.

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  6. UNESCO always puts their name on the most fascinating locations! The mines are such a unique site to visit in northern France, and I'd love a chance to explore the tunnels there. The first stop, with the view, really puts the entire site into perspective so was a great recommendation. I recognize some of the machinery for other mining experiences, mostly in northern England, but this all has such a uniquely French feel to the site and exhibits. I'd love a chance to visit!

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  7. Wow! I did not realize there is so much to see and do in the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin area. It's cool that the Louvre-Lens Museum is free and it's surprising that it has a lot of masterpieces there. :)

    By the way, your hotel room in Royal Hainaut Spa & Resort Hotel looks so majestic. Will surely consider this should we get a chance to visit.

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  8. What an interesting area to visit! I'd be sad not to visit the wineries, but I'd hope to get a taste, of course. I'm also surprised that there isn't a better way to get there, although biking sounds (and looks) like fun. I haven't been to France in so long, but I need to prioritize it this year or next. This area looks so interesting to visit, and I love UNESCO sites!

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