Stage site for the third time
Located on the territory of Wallers-Arenberg, a commune in the Nord department (59)
Population: 5,600 in Wallers-Arenberg (Wallersiens et Wallersiennes), 160,000 in the 47 communes of the Porte du Hainaut agglomeration community
Personalities: Jean Stablinski (cyclist).
Specialities: Pavé d'Enfer (cake with orange marmalade), Craquelins (pastries from St Amand), Terril de Germinal (chocolate truffled with chicory), mineral water from Saint-Amand, Germinal beer
Sport: Wallers-Arenberg Handball (regional championship for men and women). Paris-Roubaix (cobbled sector of the Trouée d'Arenberg), Grand Prix de Denain (cycling), Course des Terrils (running).
Cycling: cycling circuits around the commune and on the cobbled sectors of Paris-Roubaix, provision of 28 bicycles as part of the Savoir Rouler à Vélo programme
Economy: old mines, tourism, cinema, digital.
Events: De terre et de feu en Hainaut in Denain (sound and light show), Raimses Fest (Hard Rock Festival).
Label: the Porte du Hainaut has been awarded the Cité de l'emploi label
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.agglo-porteduhainaut.fr / www.ville-de-wallers-arenberg.fr / www.tourisme-porteduhainaut.fr / https://twitter.com/wallersarenberg?lang=fr / https://fr-fr.facebook.com/WallersArenberg/ / https://twitter.com/wallersarenberg
LA PORTE DU HAINAUT TODAY
A mine of creation
Wallers-Arenberg is a town in the Valenciennes region, rich and proud of its mining past. The Arenberg site was exploited for almost a century (from 1899 to 1989) by extracting more than 32 million tons of coal. With its streets of red brick houses typical of the region and nearly 15 sites listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites, the town was the setting for the film Germinal (directed by Claude Berri in 1993) and the series of the same name to be broadcast in 2021 on France 2 (adapted from the work of Emile Zola, a mini-series directed by David Hourrègue). The former mining site and its three headframes, now a centre of excellence for image and digital media, make the town of Wallers Arenberg one of the symbols of the revival of the mining basin. Today, without forgetting its history, the town is projecting itself into the future by making a new start thanks to numerous projects for the development of the territory, the requalification of the Arenberg district and the revitalisation of the town centre.
ARENBERG AND CYCLING
Stablinski: miner, champion and cobblestone chaser
It was in the middle of the 2007 Grande Boucle that the caravan learned of the death of one of the most faithful companions of the Tour de France. Son of Polish immigrants and former miner, Jean Stablinski left his mark on the Tour's golden book with five stage victories between 1957 and 1967. World champion in 1962, winner of the Vuelta in 1958, "Stab" was also particularly motivated by the tricolour jersey, which he wore four times between 1960 and 1964. However, he never wore the Yellow Jersey in the Tour. After his career, he was a real cobblestone scout for the organisers of Paris-Roubaix and his best find was undoubtedly the Arenberg Trench, at the entrance of which a monument in his honour now stands. It is indeed to Paris-Roubaix that the Tour winks with this arrival in Arenberg, where the most famous cobbled sector in the world is located. The "Drève des Boules d'Hérin" is now known to all as the "trench" where the Queen of the Classics has so often chosen its winners and losers.
This is the third time the Tour de France has stopped in Arenberg-Porte du Hainaut, after 2010, when Thor Hushovd won, and 2014, when Lars Boom won in a stage that was fatal for Chris Froome, who was forced to abandon after a crash.
Arenberg mining site
Foundation: late 19th-early 20th century.
History: this pit was opened in 1899 by the Compagnie des mines d'Anzin, which also built mining housing estates in the vicinity to accommodate its staff. In 1930, the productivity of this mine increased significantly with the arrival of new coal extraction technologies. In 1954, the Houillères du Bassin du Nord et du Pas-de-Calais (HBNPC) established a new mining headquarters on the site and built an efficient washhouse. Mining ceased in 1989. The Wallers Arenberg pit was named after Prince Auguste d'Arenberg, administrator of the Anzin mines.
Current use: Restoration work on the buildings and industrial equipment was undertaken in 2005. Under the name of Arenberg Creative Mine, the site has undergone a major conversion to become a centre of excellence in image and digital media.
Listing: historical monument in 2010 / UNESCO World Heritage since 2012.
Trouée d'Arenberg (Arenberg Trench), whose real name is "Drève des Boules d'Hérin", is a cobbled sector made famous by the Paris-Roubaix cycle race. It was local rider Jean Stablinski himself who suggested to include it on the route and who was the first rider in history to ride it in 1968. With an approximate distance of 2,400 m and on grueling terrain, it crosses the national forest of Raismes - Saint-Amand - Wallers.
Terril 171 (Slag Heap 171)
It was created when production was concentrated on the Arenberg pit. A long, flat slag heap built by railway tracks and tilting wagons, it has retained its original "tongue-shaped" morphology. Bordering the Goriaux pond, it is also known as the "Arenberg Dyke", still protecting the railway line that runs alongside it from rising water. The stairway leading from the Arenberg Pit to the slag heap is still fully visible, as are the rails, which are positioned as a slight embankment on the surface of the heap. The oldest part of the slag heap has been placed in an integral reserve closed to the public to preserve the fauna and flora.
The Goriaux pond is the result of a mine subsidence, classified as a state biological reserve since 1982. Located at the foot of a slag heap, whose black soil contrasts with the white trunks of the birch trees, this immense 90-hectare lake is home to some 200 species of rare birds (great crested grebe, osprey, plover, etc.). A 6.5 km walking trail invites you to explore an original flora (aquatic herbaceous plants, broom reed, birch from neighbouring forests, etc.).
Raismes - Saint-Amand - Wallers State Forest
Covering 4,600 hectares, the Raismes - Saint-Amand - Wallers state forest is the largest in the Hauts de France region after the Mormal forest. Managed by the National Forest Office, it suffered from the clearing of the monks, then from the exploitation of coal in the 19th century, part of the woods having been chopped down. The First World War finally destroyed three quarters of it. Since then, new trees have been replanted.
Village hall of the City of Arenberg
It was inaugurated with great pomp in January 1910. The front building is richly decorated. The white and pale blue glazed brick facades are the trademark of the Mines d'Anzin Company. The entrance arch rests on two pillars decorated with tables made of Desvres ceramic tiles, each displaying a musical trophy. On the left, a lyre on a trumpet and a brass band; on the right, a large harp in front of an open score. These decorations are by Charles Fourmaintraux, one of the greatest ceramists of the early 20th century in the region. Renovated from 2014 to 2016 thanks to the support of Pierre d'Arenberg, Prince and Duke of Arenberg, descendant of Auguste Louis Albéric d'Arenberg, director of the Mines d'Anzin Company, the village hall now bears his name.
La Bonne Bière
It is in Hérin, six kilometres from Wallers, (the locality which gave its real name to the Arenbeg Trench: drève des Boules d'Hérin) that three enthusiasts invested the former site of the Hérin pit in 2019 to set up a brewery, simply called La Bonne Bière (The Good Beer). The brewery offers six beers: Blonde, Triple B, Saison, Chic', Mine dé Rin and Ambrée.
The older Valenciennoise is another craft beer, available only in 75 cl bottles, brewed since 1994 in Bellaing, three kilometres from Wallers.