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The magnificent former offices of the Lens Mining Company, built in 1928, are now part of the University de l'Artois

Legacy of mining
Lens barely existed before coal was discovered here in the 19th century. It mushroomed into a rather depressing conglomeration of grimy terraced streets of houses built for miners by the Mining Company. Dark grey slag heaps and the winding gear of several coalmines towered over the mean streets.

First World War
The area was occupied by the Germans from 1914-18, who left it devastated. Many Polish and Belgian immigrants moved here in the 1920s to re-open the mines.

Last pit closed
By the time the last pit was closed in 1990, Lens had already started to built itself a new future - with new jobs, and a more attractive cleaned-up environment.

Lens station Bollaert Stadium, Lens
1. Lens SNCF station was rebuilt in 1928 after devastation in World War I, and now a protected example of Art Deco design
2. The huge new stadium is part of French government and European help to revive the area.

Football Town
Lens is the only town in the Nord-Pas de Calais region with a football team in the French First Division [1998-9 season]. Huge crowds come to its football stadium to watch famous clubs such as Paris SG, neighbouring rivals Metz, Marseille, Le Havre, Bordeaux, Nantes, Toulouse and Strasbourg play the home team.

Lille were relegated to Division 2 in 1997, joining Wasquenal (near Dunkerque), and Amiens and Beauvais from nearby Picardy. The Lens stadium has the biggest seating capacity in the region, and it has a whole range of other excellent sports facilities.

Lens RC players
The home football team - Lens Racing Club - comes out onto the pitch at Bollaert Stadium, Lens
Crowd at Lens RC Lens RC - facepainted supporter 'Sang et Or'
"Goal!!" ...Supporters of Lens Racing Club football team - the "blood and gold" (Sang et Or) - come from all over the North. The good-natured crowds include more families and children than is common in the UK.
For more information on
Lens Racing Club football:
- the official website:
- other links can be found at:
Meneux' giant is a Lens Racing Club football supporter

A Lens Supporters' Club now has its own giant, in Lens Racing Club colours! Ir comes out for local festivals and special outings. See ' Giants in Nord - Pas de Calais'

More information

Places to visit
Loisinord ski and watersports resort, Noeux-les-Mines - new use for an old coal-mine slag-heap
Centre Historique Minier, Lewarde - mining museum in former colliery

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Douai Last updated 10th June 2003 © Copyright Invicta Media 1999-2003