Simply needing to get out of paris and not having much money, i found myself heading to arras, fr, on a 10 euro ticket.
There’s a lot to say about just going to a random place. Among the highlights was a giant labyrinth/maze out in the countryside in a cornfield as well as the strange nightlife- though very small.
From a cultural point of view you have a rather interesting mix of dutch, british and french. I suppose this is to be expected based on the geography. Its particularly apparent with the history of the architecture. Some streets look very dutch, with thin brick buildings, while others are typically parisian.
There was a battle of Arras not only for the first world war but also the second. You can still see massive bullet/shell holes on some churches. One particular church was almost completely destroyed and they’re still rebuilding the surrounding structures. The photo above is of the memorial of the battle where some 30,000 soldiers died. Its quite moving, though it led me to wonder: years after a battle, where all reconciliation between the nations has passed and proceeding generations have mended the battle wounds of these particular towns, shouldn’t there be some memorializing of the soldiers who lost the war? One of the strongest symbols is of the “unknown soldier”, but yet its commonplace to forget the many equally yet opposing soldiers who just happened to lose.
With this train of thought, the main obstacle to overcome, i suppose, is time- as this blurs the purpose of a memorial- whose main purpose is in the years immediately following the event. While one main objective is so that one “never forgets” it seems that this is rather pointless unless one remembers both sides of the story.
In any case, it was nice to get out of paris. Heres the wikipedia link