mining town - Cité De La Clochette Et Notre Dame Des Mineurs Bassin Minier Unesco Waziers Douaisis Northern France (c)ADLangletmining town - Cité De La Clochette Et Notre Dame Des Mineurs Bassin Minier Unesco Waziers Douaisis Northern France (c)ADLanglet
©mining town - Cité De La Clochette Et Notre Dame Des Mineurs Bassin Minier Unesco Waziers Douaisis Northern France (c)ADLanglet
Unesco industrial heritage


The Nord-Pas-de-Calais coalfield is an exceptional example of industrial change in Northern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 150 years of intensive coal mining of the coalfield contributed to profound changes in this formerly rural area.

Evidence of the mining industry

Today, there are still many traces of this industrial past in the landscape of the coalfield: still extant mining installations, slag heaps that rise proudly from the flat landscape, and nearly 700 mining towns that were built to accommodate an increasingly large workforce.

Unesco inscription in 2012

Its exceptional value led to its inclusion as an Evolving Cultural Landscape on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 30 June 2012.

In the Douai region, five ‘exceptional’, 14 ‘remarkable’ and 41 ‘witness’ towns belonging to two mining companies, Aniche and Escarpelle, are still visible. Not to mention churches, headframes, slag heaps…

From Guesnain to Roost-Warendin, following the coal seam, visitors can explore different types of mining habitat: traditional terraced corons, housing estates, garden cities, modern cities… Douai is a town and region that deserves a visit!

Focus on the unmissable!

Cités Minières – La Clochette, in Douai and Waziers

Let yourself be captivated by the beauty of La Clochette, a mining town listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built between 1925 and 1927 to accommodate the immigrant workers toiling at the Gayant pit in Waziers, today it features neat houses, a school, a presbytery, a church and a social centre, housed in a former workers’ centre completed in 1928. A focus for the Polish community, this lively and particularly well-kept district features wide avenues leading to delightful gardens, decorated brick facades, half-moon porches and picturesque roofs…

The miners’ church

Don’t miss the Notre-Dame des Mineurs church, built for the Polish workers and their families who came in large numbers between the wars. Adorned in brick, it is a subtle combination of art deco and neo-Romanesque styles, and dominates the district in all its unique majesty. You will be dazzled by the richness of its furnishings, borrowed from traditional Polish art (masses are still celebrated here in Polish). The ceiling of the nave, evoking the supports of the mining galleries, is the highlight of this remarkable monument!

Remarkable cities of the mining basin

In Douai – Frais-Marais: the presence of four miners’ housing estates, of four different designs, makes this complex an exceptional example of the provision of housing for miners and their families.

Built from 1927 onwards, the Solitude housing estate is a garden estate with houses of various shapes arranged around a vast oval square.

Neighbouring the Solitude housing estate, the Ferronnière housing estate belongs to another scholl of housing design known as pavillonnaire, with houses featuring rich decoration on the gables and facades.

In the 1950s, the Groupe de Douai built the Godion housing estate, with single-storey houses grouped in pairs.

The Saint Joseph housing estate is a small housing estate comprising 37 houses, along a single street, in a sober style.

In Guesnain: the garden cities of La Balance and La Malmaison, and the modern city of Guesnain. These elements were built for the Aniche mines’ Saint-René pit, active from 1864 to 1964.

In Auby: two mining housing estates, dating from the 1930s and attached to the Compagnie des Mines de l’Escarpelle.

Built between 1923 and 1930, the cité de la Justice is a housing estate with semi-detached houses along dead-end streets.

The Moulin housing estate is recognisable by its curved streets, along which houses with ornamental gardens are built, a typical garden estate.

Built in the 1960s by the Groupe de Douai, the health clinic is shared with the Justice housing estate and the Moulin housing estate.

In Roost-Warendin: the Cité de la Belleforière was built between 1946 and 1956 by the Groupe de Douai. This modern housing estate has semi-detached dwellings in a sober architectural style.

Iron giants

A headframe – Pit No. 9 in Roost-Warendin

The headframe – the structure in which the mine lift is located – facilitates the movement of the miners from the surface to the galleries and back, and also to transport the coal to the surface. Pit No. 9‘s headframe dates from 1955 and comes from the Noeux No. 13 pit in Sains-en-Gohelle. It was dismantled following the end of production in 1973 and then reassembled in Roost-Warendin in 1975. It came into operation two years later and remained in service until 26 October 1990, when coal mining in the Nord department ceased. A few weeks later, the last coal extraction in the Nord-Pas de Calais coalfield took place in Oignies on 21 December.

Today, it bears emblematic witness to Pit No. 9 of the Escarpelle mines which were active between 1920 and 1990. Following the closure of the pit, the town of Roost-Warendin undertook to save and maintain the building. This 61-metre-high headframe now has a strong symbolic and memorial value.

See also:

In Anhiers: the headframe of Pit No. 2, known as the Flines pit, built in 1921. It is unusual in being constructed of concrete. A rarity, as there are only three more in the region made of this material.

A danger notice, which forbids public entry to the site, was issued in 2018 and today the headframe can only be seen from a distance.

A Terril - The Escarpelle Terril in Roost-Warendin

Get some height with the climb to the Escarpelle! This conical slag heap rewards hikers with a breath-taking view of the Scarpe valley and the chain of slag heaps. Four viewpoints have been installed, allowing all visitors, young and old alike, to appreciate the exceptional landscapes of the Douai region.

The Pâturelles slag heap, just next door, is a vast, flat slag heap featuring a mountain bike track!

In the heart of this protected and preserved green setting, fauna and flora display their beauty along a pedestrian trail of several kilometres. Birch forests, ponds and open spaces are revealed along the marked paths, offering numerous fun and educational activities. Are you a trail enthusiast? You will have the chance to run a course taking in small rises, wild paths and open spaces. Animal lovers? You will never be alone: in fact, some 50 different species of birds have made their homes here!

Also visit:

In Auby: the slag heap 140 is the only visible trace of coal mining left today. This artificial hill is the result of the storage of mine waste, mainly sandstone and shale.

This small, flat slag heap is linked to several pits of the Compagnie des Mines de l’Escarpelle, but in particular to the former Pit No. 8; known as Port-Arthur (1906-1968). Built along a railway line, slag heap no. 140, also known as the marsh slag heap of the western vivier, was exploited for its economic value with earthworks following the cessation of coal mining. Development work was undertaken to make it more accessible. Today, located near a fishing pond, the site is considered a nature and leisure location.

Since 2016 it is part of the classified ‘Chaîne des terrils du Bassin minier du Nord de la France’ along with 77 others sites.

In Flines-lez-Râches: the Germinies Nord slag heap, a sensitive natural area located in the Scarpe-Escaut Regional Nature Park.

Covering 135 hectares, it consists of a vast slag heap on a plateau with a wetland area at its base. A paradise for lovers of flora and fauna, with 27 rare to exceptional species of flora, and the presence, during the nesting season, of the European nightjar, the slag heap and its surroundings constitute one of the region’s richest sites in terms of biodiversity.

In Flines-lez-Râches and Lallaing: the Germinies Sud slag heap, a 100-hectare paradise for fishermen and hunters. Access is regulated and guided tours are available.