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Trains from Lille, Hazebrouck and Arras


Bethune market and belfry
Lively weekly market in Béthune's main square around the old medieval belfry

Old coal mining town
The medieval town of Béthune grew spectacularly when coal-mining started there in the 19th century.

First World War
Like much of the coal-mining basin, Béthune was occupied by German forces in the
First World war, and left in ruins by fighting and bombardments.

The town centre was re-built in the 'twenties and 'thirties in flemish style, with attractive red-brick buildings, typical stepped gables and some unusual art-deco houses.

The 14th century belfry is one of the few survivals from older times. It has a carillon of 36 bells - some of which were taken by
Spanish king Charles V from the town of Thérouanne. It is now open to the public, and you can climb to the top. The Tourist Office is in the base of the tower.

Bethune belfry Bethune market square
Béthune's belfry in the town square dates from 1376, when it replaced an old wooden watch-tower (built 1346 - the year of the
Battle of Crecy). It stands alone in the Grand-Place.
Les economies by Delannoy 1902 Charitables Brotherhood Noeux-les-Mines artificial ski slope
1. 'The Economies' by Jules Charles Delannoy, in the Musée d'Ethnologie Regionale, Bethune. 1902 - symbolises the life-long poverty of peasants in this area 100 years ago.
2. The "Charitables" Brotherhood of Béthune - an ancient tradition dating back to a 12th century plague, when victims were bravely buried.
3. 'Loisinord' dry ski slope at nearby Noeux-les-mines; a former slag-heap
 medieval Bethune
Medieval Bethune - the walled market town had many churches; in the background, the chalk hills around Arras; in the foreground, market gardens on the marshes of the Lys valley. Boats came up the river Lys from the Flemish coastal ports.
Christmas market
Bethune's characterful Christmas market with festive craft and regional produce stalls near the belfry.

Weblinks and more information:
OFFICE DU TOURISME, le Beffroi, Grand-Place, BETHUNE
Tel: 00 33 (0)3 - Fax: 00 33 (0)3 21 57.01.60

Local area map:

Click on places for more information

Places to visit:
Olhain Castle - moated medieval castle
Olhain Park & Arbronauts - live in the trees in a local forest
Loisinord ski resort, Noeux-les-Mines - new use for an old coal-mine slag-heap
Centre Historique Minier, Lewarde - mining museum in former colliery
Bruay Mining Museum - hear about life underground in guided tours by old miners
Christmas markets - a tradition that's more popular each year

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QUICK TOUR round the Artois region, starting with Vimy Ridge...

Background information:
Coal mining




Lens Last updated 27th May 2000 © Copyright Invicta Media 1999 - 2000