The mining areas listed as UNESCO world heritage

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Since 2012, the mining area of the Nord-Pas de Calais has featured alongside numerous prestigious monuments on the World Heritage list. It has been registered as a "Paysage culturel évolutif vivant" (living and evolving cultural landscape).


The "cultural landscape" is the combined product of man and nature, being an area in which man has benefited from the natural resources and created new landscapes. The mining area here is an outstanding example of a landscape transformed by the coal industry. By their very nature, industrial landscapes are constantly changing. The mining landscapes of the 20th century replaced those of the 19th century. These landscapes have themselves been modified by the technical and economic developments of the 20th century. Today, in the 21st century, the challenge is to continue these changes while at the same time respecting the heritage sites of these areas. They today constitute the signature and identity of the mining area, marking its differentiation within the Nord-Pas de Calais area, in France and the rest of the world.


It was in 1720 at  Fresnes-sur-Escaut, in the Valenciennes area that the first pickaxe blows were struck, marking the start of coal mining in the Nord-Pas de Calais. For almost two and a half centuries, the Compagnie des Mines d’Anzin (Anzin mining company) made the Valenciennes area a pioneer and a source of progress in this industry, of which the region has retained a number of prestigious heritage sites to this day.

Numerous sites from among the 353 heritage sites included on the global heritage list can be discovered thanks to a number of circuits or heritage trails organised by the Valenciennes Métropole Tourism and Conference Bureau, including:


The château de l’Hermitage at Condé-sur-l’Escaut (where the deed of incorporation of the Compagnie des Mines d’Anzin was signed in 1757). The Sarteau Fire pump at Fresnes-sur-Escaut (the region’s only reminder of the incessant battle waged by the miners against the encroachment of water). Outstanding miners’ housing estates: the Coron des 120 in Anzin, the "Thiers ancienne" estate in Bruay-sur-Escaut, the "Soult ancienne" estate in Fresnes-sur-Escaut or the Taffin estate in Vieux-Condé. The spoil heaps of La Bleuse Borne in Anzin or those of the Ledoux site at Condé-sur-l’Escaut. The Dutemple mine head frame in Valenciennes and the Ledoux mine head frame in Condé-sur-l’Escaut.


The mining area developed in what was originally a rural area with numerous natural features (waterways, plains, valleys and forests, etc.) which makes the landscape all the more varied. Mining also significantly modified the area’s hydrography, with the introduction of a new feature on the landscape, the subsidence pond, particularly in what were originally marshlands. This resulted in the development of huge expanse of water and the creation of walking trails where the natural environment is today shared with an abundance of birds and outstanding plant life. The ponds of Chabaud-Latour and the Digue Noire in Condé-sur-l’Escaut or the Amaury pond in Hergnies survive as remarkable examples.


The Somain-Péruwelz line, a former railway track serving the mining facilities, which has been landscaped between Bruay-sur-l’Escaut (France) and Péruwelz (Belgium) offers a very pleasant hike and a great way to discover the various mining heritage sites, as do the current lines of the Valenciennes area's tram system.

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