The Valenciennes or Vacqueresse Gate
Place d'Armes Square
The first settlement in Douai dates back to the 7th century and the town was granted a charter by the Count of Flanders in 1188. It is famous for the cloth trade, which developed along the river Scarpe from the 12th century. Belonging successively to Flanders, Burgundy and the Spanish Netherlands. Douai was annexed to France by Louis XIV in 1667.
When the cloth industry started to decline in the 1560s the town magistrates asked for a university to be built. The town still acts as Court of Appeal for the region and has the highest number of lawyers of any city in Northern France. It was damaged during both World Wars but still boasts impressive 18th century architecture. Today, Douai is most famous for its giants, the Gayant family, who go on procession round the town on the first Sunday following the 5th of July every year.
You’ll want to visit the Centre Historique Minier which retraces 300 years of mining history. Not to be missed, the Musee de la Charteuse housing works by Van Dyck, Delacroix, Pissaro, Renoir and Sisley.
Impressive Gothic style with 62 bell carillon