The Lewarde Mining History Centre


Located in Lewarde, 40 minutes from Lille in the northern department of Nord, the Lewarde Mining History Centre is located in the heart of the Mining basin. The remains in this region make up the most significant industrial heritage of France and bear witness to a significant period in the industrial history of the country. Numerous activities have been organised to discover this region from an historical perspective, but also to discover its natural heritage. The Lewarde Mining History Centre, a major stakeholder in its territory, aims to preserve and promote mining culture. Thanks to this, this extraordinary site was the winner of the 2017 EDEN competition, the theme of which was cultural tourism. Furthermore, the local cultural offering is very rich as it includes the Louvre Lens museum, described as the "second Louvre". These two highlights symbolise the successful regeneration of the Mining Basin of Nord Pas de Calais.

A UNESCO World Heritage region

Almost three centuries of industrial history can be read here. This region of Nord where coal was mined from the 18th to the 20th century, has played a major part in the economic impetus of France during this period. The mining sites, the transport infrastructure, as well as the towns and villages housing workers, supervisors and traders make up the industrial landscape of the Mining Basin. An historical account which has earned the Mining Basin its UNESCO World Heritage status and which includes 353 elements spread over 109 sites. In the heart of the Mining Basin, the Louvre Lens museum was built on the site of an important former pit of the Lens mines. This partnership with the famous Parisian museum imbues this history-steeped destination with an artistic dimension. Visiting this region of France means re-immersing yourself in the period of the European industrial boom, discovering the places and working conditions of the miners, but also understanding the economic and ecological stakes involved in using coal.

 

The Lewarde Mining History Centre, the largest mining museum in France

Mining activity at the Delloye pit began in 1931, under the direction of the former Mines d'Aniche company. Difficult to mine, the deposit ceased to be very profitable and mining stopped in 1971. The Lewarde Mining History Centre opened its doors to the public in 1984. It is a listed historical monument. Based in the colliery yard of the former Delloye pit, mined from 1931 to 1971 by the former Mines D'Aniche company, it occupies over 8000m2 of industrial buildings, on an 8-hectare site. It has three additional structures: the Mining museum, the Archive and documentary resources centre and the Scientific Energy Culture Centre. It is the largest mining museum in France and welcomes up to 150,000 visitors per year.

 

On the trails of Green and Blue Infrastructure

This calm region in the north of France lends itself perfectly to walking and cycling. A Green and Blue infrastructure has been put in place: 'Green' for the natural land-based environments, 'Blue' for the water and wetland network. This ecologically orientated initiative plays its part in protecting and restoring the local biodiversity.  The Grande Boucle du Douaisis aims to link the natural spaces such as the slag heaps, woodland and wetland of the region. The Chemin des Galibots was born out of this initiative. It is made up of 36km of routes shared among several municipalities of Douaisis and Ostrevent, such as, for example, Lewarde and Rieulay. 

The Lewarde Mining History Centre highlights the exciting industrial and human adventure of coal. It is the largest mining museum in France. The Centre has been enriched by materials and documents coming from other mining sites in the region. In 2017, the destination won the EDEN competition, the theme of which was cultural tourism.

 

The Mining History Centre, an historical monument

 It was in the Delloye pit, a former coal mining site saved from demolition, that the Mining History Centre was created to showcase three centuries of mining activity. An historic site for an authentic reconstruction of the mine environment. The work places are presented with attention to detail, whether it is the lamps lined up in the lampisteria, or the ambient noises like the neighing of the horse in the stable. It all plays its part in a real immersion into the heart of the mine. The numerous historical and scientific exhibitions let you relive the coal saga, from the Carboniferous to our times and they retrace nearly 3 centuries of coal mining in Nord-Pas de Calais. The guided visits, as well as the testimonial-meetings allow you to better understand the life of miners and how their working conditions changed between 1720 and 1990.

 

Fun and educational activities to do as a family.

Learn while having fun! Families will love the programme that the Mining History Centre has created for them. The interactive Explora'mine visit allows children and adults to put themselves in the shoes of a family of miners from the start of the 20th century. Tools, accessories and archive images play a role in reproducing the living and working conditions of the workers. Especially designed for children, the discovery booklets accompany them during the route. Inside, a mystery and a puzzle to solve during the visit. Two different stories are planned for 6-10 year olds and 11-14 year olds. Heading off to explore and carrying out an investigation are ideal ways to grab the attention of children and teenagers. Other activities that your children will love can be found in the Galibot workshops. Several artistic and scientific workshops are organised for 6-11 year olds. The main theme is mining and its world. It is a chance for them to learn new techniques and to express their creativity.

 

In favour of accessible tourism

Being accessible to all, such is the objective that the Mining History Centre has set itself. This approach is supported by a community network of disabled people in order to meet their expectations. The infrastructure and staff are therefore able to welcome all visitors and make their visit easier. These measures take into consideration physical, auditory, visual and mental disabilities. In 2010, the Centre received the "Musée pour tous, musée pour chacun" (Museum for all, with something for everyone) prize, awarded by the French Ministry for Culture. 

Introduction

This former mining region from the north of France is made up of different natural and semi-natural environments. For 3 centuries, the coal mining sites altered the landscape. The natural element gradually regained the upper hand following it, giving a new face to the sites such as the slag heaps. To discover this surprising region, here are some ideas for remarkable sites and itineraries to cover on foot or by bike.

 

Hikes

To visit the small town of Lewarde and its surrounding area, nothing beats a walk. The Circuit de la Fosse Delloye (Delloye Pit Circuit) connects the main sites of the mining area: the town centre, the Mining History Centre and the Lewarde wood. The 9km route can be covered in under 3 hours. It is a pleasant way to discover the cultural and natural heritage of Douaisis. Another favourite route: the Chemin des Galibots. This circuit, also called the Grande Boucle du Douaisis (Great Douaisis Circuit), connects the stunning natural areas of the region: slag heaps, woodland, parks and wetland like the Terril des Argales in Rieulay or the Grand Marais de Guesnain. This 36km circuit can be enjoyed on foot or by bike alike. It can be done as a whole for the sportier among you, but also in sections, targeting a few top sites. In Lewarde, the path goes alongside the Mining History Centre.

 

Bike rides

Cycling fans will love the region of Douaisis. "Bassin minier à vélo" (Mining basin by bike), an initiative supported by the Communauté de communes Cœur d’Ostrevent offers 4 routes to discover the natural and cultural heritage of the mining basin. Over a day or a half day, choose the option which best suits you. The Maison du Terril de Rieulay also offers two guided walks on Sunday mornings. One is based on mining heritage, the other on the biodiversity of the slag heap. Electrically assisted bicycles are available for hire. This greatly reduces the effort required and will convince the less sporty to undertake a trip in the fresh air.

 

Slag heap visit - the Terril des Argales in Rieulay

This is the largest flat slag heap of the Nord département. It is a testament to the prosperous mining activity of the region. Used from the start of the 20th century, the Rieulay site was modified and transformed over time. Once the mining stopped, nature took over again. A lake formed, due to the significant weight of the slag heap which pressed down on the water table. Now it is an ideal place for walking, fishing and water-side leisure activities. The Terril de Rieulay is the perfect example of a mining site reconverted into a natural area, where lizards run along the shale and the moorhens rub shoulders with curious toads.

The cultural programme of the Mining Basin relies on nearly 3 centuries of coal history. Numerous cultural events organised in the Mining History Centre highlight the tangible and intangible heritage of this mining region. In addition to this, an interesting range of historical monuments and museums will take you on a journey through the ages.

 

In the Mining History Centre there is an attractive cultural programme

All year long, cultural events mark the calendar of the Mining History Centre. Temporary exhibitions, workshops and entertainment welcome an ever-growing loyal public. The artistic, scientific and historical exhibitions allow the visitor to discover the mining world in a different way. During the Night of the museums, the Mining History Centre welcomes performances from artists in an evening full of surprises. During the European Heritage Days, the Centre opens its doors for free and offers activities with different themes each year. The numerous cultural events offer a family outing that is both fun and educational. During the Fête de la Science (Science Festival) there is a chance to test your scientific knowledge and have fun while learning. From February to April, children will have fun thanks to activities specially designed for them. They will carry out an investigation with the "Etrange affaire" activity and head off on a treasure hunt thanks to the "Le trésor de la fosse Delloye" (Treasure of the Delloye Pit) activity.

 

Lens and Douai, cultural capital of Nord.

From Béthune to Douai including Lens, this former mining region promotes its historic heritage thanks to the local initiative mind-set. It is on the site of the old pit no. 9 of the Lens mines that the Louvre-Lens museum was set up.  The date chosen for its inauguration, on 4th December 2012, is not by chance. It is Saint Barbara's day, the patron saint of miners. Linked to the Louvre in Paris by a cultural convention, the Louvre-Lens presents semi-temporary and temporary exhibitions that rival the famous Parisian museum. For example, the time gallery retraces 5000 years of history, thanks to the 200 historic works loaned by the Louvre in Paris. Furthermore, its position in the heart of the mining basin places it near to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the Cité pavillonnaire Jeanne d’Arc or the Eglise Saint-Théodore church. The essentials: At the Musée-Parc Arkéos, 40 years of research and archaeological discoveries are showcased. The Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Arras is located in the Abbey of Saint-Vaast, the most significant religious building of classical architecture in France. In Béthune, the Labanque production and broadcasting centre for visual arts offers an unusual visit with its modern art gallery located in the former Banque de France. A symbol of the town's medieval history, the Belfry of Béthune is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as is the Douai Belfry, a Gothic masterpiece of the Middle Ages. History fans will enjoy a visit to the Canadian monument of Vimy, a First World War memorial.

The opening of Louvre-Lens and the granting of the mining basin's UNESCO World Heritage status in 2012 gave rise to the ALL - Atour du Louvre-Lens (Around Louvre-Lens) destination.

For a cosy stay in the Nord region, choose from among a vast selection of hotels and guestrooms, for all tastes and all budgets. In terms of the cuisine, the restaurants mainly offer traditional Nord specialities. Welsh rarebit, Potjevleesch and Carbonade flamande are displayed on the region's restaurant and brasserie set menus. A gourmet and modern cuisine finishes off the menu, made from regional produce. Here are some ideas to help you choose from among the generous offer of accommodation and restaurants.

 

Where to sleep

  • La Terrasse, Douai: a hotel-restaurant with a vast range of rooms and suites, a gourmet restaurant based on local produce - Set menu from €20 - Double rooms from €100 –  www.laterrasse.fr  – 36 Terrasse Saint Pierre, 59500 Douai - 03 27 88 70 04
     
  • Les Béthunoises, Béthune: guestrooms, modern rooms with original décors varying the materials, spa and sauna, also offers 3 holiday homes - Double rooms from €90 – www.lesbethunoises.com – 107 Rue Edouard Herriot, 62400 Béthune - 06 30 89 61 69
     
  • Les Foulons, Douai: Guestrooms, family welcome in a completely renovated large house dating back to the 17th century - Single/double rooms from €85/€100 – www.lesfoulonsdouai.com  – 115 rue des foulons 59500 Douai - 03 27 86 13 75 
     
  • Maison d'hôtes La Corne d'Or, Arras: Cosy rooms in an 18th century private townhouse, tastefully renovated - Single/double rooms from €108/€130 – www.lamaisondhotes.com/bienvenue-a-la-corne-dor  – 1 Place Guy Mollet, 62000 Arras - 03 21 58 85 94 / 06 78 79 59 28 
     
  • Les Gîtes de l'Ecole Buissonnière, Lens: 3 unusual timber holiday homes designed by regional craftspeople – night stays from €77 -www.gite-lens.fr   – 4 Square Noguéres, 62300 Lens – 06 75 71 77 23 / 06 11 48 71 32

 

Where to eat

  • Restaurant Le Briquet, Lewarde: Mining History Centre restaurant, traditional Nord cuisine - Set menu from €14  –  Fosse Delloye, rue d'Erchin, 59287 Lewarde - 03 27 95 82 82
     
  • Le Prévert, Douai: local cuisine in a traditional small café décor, popular with locals - Dishes €12-€19 -  28 Rue de la Comédie, 59500 Douai - 03 27 98 59 51 
     
  • Le p’tit Nicolas, Douai: traditional cuisine in a friendly setting - Set menu from €19  -  www.leptitnicolas.com – 81 avenue Georges Clémenceau, 59500 Douai - 03 27 87 39 61
     
  • Al'Fosse 7, Avion: Brasserie in a reconstructed mine setting, local and innovative cuisine - Set menu from €26 - www.alfosse7.fr – 94 bvd Henri Martel - 62210 Avion - 03 21 43 06 98
     
  • L'Atelier de Marc Meurin, Lens: gourmet cuisine based on regional produce - Set menu from €33 – www.atelierdemarcmeurin.fr  – Musée du Louvre Lens, 97 Rue Paul Bert,  62300 Lens -  03 21 18 24 90
     
  • Potin de Casseroles, Béthune: rustic setting and traditional dishes - Set menu from €21 - www.potindecasseroles.e-monsite.com – 29 Boulevard Jean Moulin 62 400 Béthune – 03 21 64 18 93

 

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