Labeled City of Art and History, Cambrai is a commune of the Hauts-de-France located in the department of Nord. It takes place about twenty kilometers from Douai, and about forty kilometers from Arras. Cambrai also benefits from a proximity to the Belgian border, which is only a hundred kilometers from Brussels.
A rural village in the Gallo-Roman period, Cambrai was mainly developed during the Merovingian period, becoming a city in its own right. The production of linen cloth and sheets, from that time, gives it a great place in the economic market of the country. Habsburg city in the sixteenth century, Cambrai found the kingdom of France in the seventeenth century. Strongly destroyed during the Second World War and the air raids, the commune of the North rebuilds itself in the stride, revealing nowadays a face pleasant to the tourists.
Although much of the heritage has disappeared over the centuries, the city of Cambrai still retains interesting sites to discover during a stay on site. Its gastronomy, with notably the famous Bêtises, also attracts visitors.
In classical style, the cathedral of Notre-Dame-de-la-Grâce was completed in the early 18th century. It replaced, after the French Revolution, the old cathedral of Gothic style of the twelfth century of which there remains today no vestige. Inside, one can admire the tomb of Fénelon with the sculptures of David d'Angers, as well as large organ of the late nineteenth century. The building has been listed in the Historic Monuments Inventory.
Other religious monuments are worth visiting in Cambrai, like the chapel of the Great Seminary, classified in the inventory of Historic Monuments. Built at the end of the 17th century, it is a unique example of baroque architecture in the north of France. Classified as Historic Monuments, the Saint-Géry church is one of the oldest sites in the city. Inside, one can see very beautiful pieces such as this Entombment of Pierre-Paul Rubens, or a rood screen in polychrome marble.
There are some vestiges of the citadel of Charles V at Cambrai, despite its dismantling in the nineteenth century. Thus, one can admire the royal door and its drawbridge classified to the inventory of the Historic Monuments, or even dwellings for officers and an arsenal of the sixteenth century. There are also vestiges of the medieval ramparts, such as the gates of Paris and Notre-Dame, or the towers of Sottes, Caudron and Arquets.
Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site among the group of 23 belfries in France and Belgium, the belfry of Cambrai is a must in the city. It became a belfry in the mid-16th century and used to be a bell tower in the church of St. Martin. Also listed as a Historic Monument, the building has four beautiful 1922 statues representing four figures of Cambrai: a warrior, a soldier of the communal militia, Louise of Savoy, or the Marquis of Cezon. The town hall also deserves a stop with its Greek-style façade and its bell tower on which one can admire two giants of the Moorish type. On request, it is possible to admire the frescoes of the wedding hall.
Walking through the city, you can admire the castle of Selles, an old castle from the 11th century, including the towers, the walls and buried girdles, or the Spanish house which now houses the Tourist Office. Dating back to the 16th century, it is the last example of a half-timbered house with gables on a regional street. It has been classified in the inventory of Historical Monuments.
The museum of Cambrai takes place in the hotel of Francqueville, edifice of the XVIIIe century. In particular, there is a relief map of the city at the end of the 17th century, as well as archaeological and artistic collections, with works by Ingres, Vasarely, Bourdelle and Rodin.
The Tourist Office of Cambrai offers guided tours of the underground which take place under the whole commune. One can notably see there vaulted rooms Romanesque or Gothic, as well as excavations hollowed out from the Gallo-Roman period.
The municipality of Cambrai, rewarded with three flowers in the "Villes et villages fleuris de France" contest, unveils several green spaces like the municipal park. Dating from the 19th century, it offers a three-part garden overlooking the ancient ramparts of Charles V: a flower garden, the English-style Monstrelet garden with a music kiosk, and the Caves garden with a waterfall. The palace in this location regularly hosts concerts.
Two military cemeteries take place at Cambrai, there are more than 10,000 German graves, as well as 500 tombs of the British Empire, and burials of Russian and Romanian prisoners.
The market of Cambrai is held every Wednesday and Saturday morning under the hall. The city also offers a Christmas market in December.
In April, the BetiZFest festival highlights alternative music through concerts.
The American Journeys festival is held every year in May. It highlights American culture through demonstrations of country dance, a market and other festivities.
The Juventus festival of Cambrai celebrates classical music.
Each last weekend of July, the Palais des Grottes hosts the national contest of trait of the North which unveils the most important parade of draft horses in France.
Every August 15, the city celebrates its popular festival with a fair, a parade of giants, Martin and Martine, or even fireworks.