ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting the belfry at Douai, France: Gothic structure dating from the 14th century

Updated on March 20, 2012
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Douai's City Hall belfry
Douai's City Hall belfry | Source
Map location of Douai
Map location of Douai | Source

80 metres of impressive, Medieval architecture

Work on this striking belfry in Douai, northern France, began 1380, although an earlier tower is known to have existed on its present site. Its conspicuous Gothic features, including prominent turrets, have thus been part of the skyline of Douai for many centuries.

Among its features, the 80-metre high belfry, executed in stone, is known for its 62 bell carillon; some of the bells are hundreds of years old. During World War One, Douai was occupied by Imperial German troops, and, to add to the tragic human cost of the war, some of the priceless bells were removed for their metal value in the war effort.

Guides of the belfry are sometimes available, and I was interested to climb the tower and drink in the sense of history. The belfry forms part of the city hall (French: Hôtel de ville ) building and thus may be said to provide a somewhat historically and aesthetically intense perspective to this hub of municipal affairs.

An English College at Douai, Roman Catholic in affiliation, sponsored an Old Testament translation in 1609, at first widely regarded with distrust in England; this volume was added to an English New Testament produced at Reims some decades later; this widely used edition became known as the Douay-Rheims Bible (1) and has historically been regarded as the Roman Catholic edition equivalent to the Protestant King James Bible.

Douai is situated in the Nord department of northern France. The city did not become definitively a possession of France until 1667, when the armies of King Louis XIV took the city from the Habsburgs; this was confirmed in 1668 by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Coalmining was formerly an important, local industry. Thus, this ancient belfry may be said to have witnessed both Spanish (2) and Austrian administration before the city actually became part of France.

Notes

(1) Note on spelling: the modern, French spelling of the town is 'Douai', used in this article. A former spelling, which continued to be used in English writings, was 'Douay'. 'Rheims' is also an archaic spelling which is usually rendered 'Reims' in France.

(2) It was the Spanish authorities which received the religious exiles in Douai at the time of the Reformation in England.

Also worth seeing

In Douai itself, the Valenciennes Gate (French: Porte de Valenciennes ) is a noted structure which has survived from the 15th century.

Vimy (distance: 34 kilometres) has the National Canadian Vimy Memorial, with its impressive monument to the Canadian fallen of World War One.

...

How to get there: Continental Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), from where car rental is available (distance from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to Douai : 170 kilometres). The French railroad company SNCF maintains a service between Paris-Nord station and Douai . Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.You are advised to consult with appropriate consular sources regarding border crossing visa requirements for citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)