Via Francigena_Les Randonneurs @claire Decraene Arras Pays D'artois TourismeVia Francigena_Les Randonneurs @claire Decraene Arras Pays D'artois Tourisme
©Randonneurs sur la Via Francigena|Claire Decraene - Arras Pays d'Artois Tourisme

Walking the Via Francigena through the Historic Artois Region

Encounters and landscapes

The Via Francigena comprises 3,200km of routes to follow at your own pace and a slice of history rich in cultural discoveries and marvellous landscapes. It also takes you through the entirely of the historic province of Artois, a vast territory including the cities and towns of Arras, Béthune and Saint-Omer.

Venturing from the north to the south of the Artois, from the towers of Mont-Saint-Éloi to Rocquigny church, you’ll make wonderful finds along the Via’s 45km of walking routes, which take you through idyllic villages as well as the historic heart of the city of Arras.

Via Francigena_Carnet de Tampons @Claire Decraene - Arras Pays d'Artois TourismeVia Francigena_Carnet de Tampons @Claire Decraene - Arras Pays d'Artois Tourisme
©Via Francigena, Carnet de Tampons |Claire Decraene - Arras Pays d'Artois Tourisme

Taking the pulse of the Artois…

It was in the 10th century that Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, undertook to walk between Canterbury and Rome on foot to meet Pope Jean XV. On his way back, he divided the route into 80 stages, each covering about 20km – and thus the Via Francigena came into being! The stage that goes from Ablain-Saint-Nazaire with its Ring of Remembrance WWI Memorial to Arras take you into the historic province of Artois via Mont-Saint-Eloi, give you a spectacu-lar first impression. The heights of this Village Patrimoine® (village listed for its heritage) offer you wonderful views over the countryside around Arras.

If you need to refuel before carrying on from here, head for La Table des Tours, for a delicious meal based on local produce. Its terrace is a great spot for admiring the abbey ruins that make this place so magical.

… in the rhythm of your footsteps

There’s still quite a way to go to Arras, a stage in the Via Francigena, and from there on to Bapaume. Before making your way across the marshes, stop off in Maroeuil for its spring that has been ascribed miraculous powers.

Once you’ve arrived in Arras, make time to appreciate its tranquil squares and the rich archi-tecture of its centre. After spending this well-deserved break discovering the local heritage, find your way back onto the route with the help of the copper arrows inlaid into the paving stones of the city centre.

Follow the signs to Bapaume and its belfry. There are a few more miles between the World War II memorial sites and the Art Deco gems in the south of the region. From here you’ll ar-rive at the Artois’ southern border, marked by the remarkable church at Rocquigny with its lace-effect belltower made of reinforced concrete.

Local's tip

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Around Mont-Saint-Eloi

I could talk to you about the ruins of the abbey of Mont-Saint-Eloi, overlooking the country-side around Arras from its 145m altitude offering 360° views. But lesser known here are walks in the woods, one of the region’s last churches with a crocketed spire, at Ecoivres, the chalk quarry at Bray, and the twin prehistoric megaliths of Acq. You’ll come across lots of in-teresting things as you walk through the village, including Rue de la Warde, constructed by locals.

Clémentine, host at the Choucas des Tours community cafe in Mont-Saint-Eloi

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