Valenciennes is a town and commune in northern France in the Nord département on the Scheldt river. While the city and region had seen a steady decline between 1975 and 1990, it has hence rebounded. As of 1999, the commune has a population of 42 343 while the entire urban area numbers 399 677. This renewed growth is particuarly noteable for Valenciennes, as well as some suburbs.
In CE 693, in an arcane document, Clovis II wrote the name of Valenciennes for the first time in history. In the 9th century this region was overrun by the Normans. With the Empire of the Franks established the city began to develop. In 1008 a terrible famine brought the Plague.
In the 14th century the Tower of Dodenne was built. In the 15th century the province of Hainaut was re-attached to Burgundy. In 1524 Charles Quint, Emperor arrived at Valenciennes. Because of the manufacturers of wool and fine linens, the city was able to become economically free.
By the treaty of Nimègue the French took control of Valenciennes in 1678. Shortly thereafter Vauban visited the city in the effort to fortify the northern reaches of France.
Valenciennes is historically renowned for its lace. Until the 1970s, the main industries were steel and textiles. Since their decline, reconversion attempts focus mainly on automobile : In 2001, Toyota built its Western European Assembly line for the Toyota Yaris. Because of this and other changes, the average unemployment in the region is now lower than the national average.
On July 15, 2004 the European Union's Railway Agency held its first meeting in Phénix, with representatives of the 25 Member States and François Lamoureux, General Manager of Energy and Transportation at the European Commission. Valennciennes was picked as the European Railway Agency headquarters in December of 2003. Technical meetings will be held in Lille.
Public Transportation System
Line #1 of the tramway, currently under construction, will be put into service on June 16, 2006. 9.5 km long, this tramway will cross the five communes in the Valenciennois Agglomeration. The price of this tramway is expected to cost 242.75 million Euros.
Valenciennes is a subprefecture of the Nord département.
Mayors since 1947
- Inhabitants are called valenciennois.
Monuments and Tourist Attractions
Valenciennes was almost completely destroyed during World War II, and has hence been rebuilt in concrete.
A few surviving monuments are:
- The façade of the city offices which managed to survive the bombardments of the war.
- Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon, to which there is an annual pilgrimmage.
- La Maison Espagnole, the remains of the Spanish occupation, which ended in 1678.
- The Dodenne Tower, the remaining part of the mediaeval fortifications after Charles V ordered them reduced.
People born in Valenciennes