Instagram #douaiandco
Instagram #douaiandco
Walk around Old Douai

The charm of Old Douai

Douai is a town that has constantly transformed and reinvented itself over the centuries. From the Middle Ages to the present day, it was in turn a merchant commune, a university town, a military area, a judicial centre and the capital of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining basin! Today, it is home to a Court of Assizes, a Court of Appeal and a renowned Faculty of Law. But Old Douai has preserved many of its charms, to the delight of history lovers…

Old Douai, a journey through time

Old Douai is full of incredible stories… Take a stroll along the ruelle des Minimes. Narrow and winding, it plunges you straight into the medieval era. A mill making ‘a hellish noise’ is said to be the origin of the name of a second alley, so aptly named the ruelle de l’Enfer, Hell Alley! Accessible only on guided tours, they have many secrets to reveal…

Next, go to Place du Marché aux Poissons: in the Middle Ages, a wooden building occupied its centre and fish was sold there at the auction. The layout of the square has not changed since then!

Come and admire the Porte d’Arras, built in 1312 during the reign of Philippe le Bel, the sublime Collégiale Saint-Pierre, completed in 1686, and the Porte de Valenciennes, a survivor of medieval fortifications built in 1453!

The ruelle des Archers et des Arbalétriers, the ruelle du Fort de Kehl or the ruelle du Verjus and de l’Évêque will not fail to amaze you! Winding around the river, they form a network linking the various districts. You are plunged into the Middle Ages…

Finally, don’t leave the city without visiting the belfry, the city’s emblematic monument dating from the 14th century, and the incredible Musée de la Chartreuse installed in the former Carthusian monastery, dating from the 16th century!

Discover Old Douai from the Scarpe

Comfortably seated on board an electric boat, let the guide recount the history of Vieux Douai and discover the town from a new perspective. From your boat, you can admire the charming traditional facades of the houses along the river, enjoy an unobstructed view of the Palais de Justice (one of whose cells was occupied by the criminal turned criminologist Eugène-François Vidocq, considered to be the father of modern criminology), and learn all about this town which has developed around the water, from its medieval past to the present day!

Whether on foot or by boat, Old Douai is a special place to be discovered at leisure.