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Valenciennes Rail Station provides a gateway to the city and the Nord Department of eastern France which abuts the Belgian border. Since Valenciennes was largely destroyed in both WWI and WWII, attractions in town are few. Valenciennes is more of a base for exploring the region with self-drive car hire. Popular excursions are the Lewarde Mining Heritage Centre, the Great War Museum, Somme Valley battle sites and Scarpe-Escaut National Park.
Who to Book With
Europcar’s office is located on the town’s Avenue Foch, which leads off Place de la Gare, and is just a few minutes walk from the station. Other vehicle rental companies with depots in the immediate vicinity are Avis, Hertz and Ucar. Booking online offers drivers a selection of rates from all the suppliers operating at Valenciennes Rail Station.
Best Time to Go
Rain is liable to fall in Valenciennes at any time of the year. Statistical records show that August is the wettest month. From late spring to the end of July is the best time to visit. Temperatures are consistently above 14°C during these months and the sun shines more often. September and the first half of October are also pleasant and car rental rates and hotels are usually cheaper.
Need to Know Essentials
The hire company will need you to produce these items when collecting your car:
- Drivers from the UK and other EU nations need their national licences
- Photo identification (preferably your passport)
- The credit or debit card you used when you made the reservation
- A printout of the reservation details and confirmation number
Our FAQ's page provides more information.
Drivers unfamiliar with the streets of Valenciennes may encounter some difficulty getting around. Once the streets are behind you, rural routes and motorways are easy. The junction of the A2 and A23 motorways is on the south side of town. The section of the A2 from Cambrai to Combles is a toll road. There are a number of car parks in Valenciennes. Fees for the station car park are €11 (£9.40) a day. Central ones such as Rue du Quesnoy are €1.20 (£1) per hour.
You can find more information in our Guide to driving in France.
Valenciennes Rail Station is only 300 metres from the town centre. Unless visitors have heavy bags when they arrive, it is an easy stroll. Bus routes cover all the outer districts of town. There is also a tramway and local services from the rail station are another option for getting around. Taxis are readily available and are cheaper than in Paris or London. Daytrips are most comfortable when you have the freedom to stop and start in a self-drive rental.
SNCF manages Valenciennes Rail Station. The station is the terminus for TGV high-speed trains from Paris Nord which stop at Douai and Arras en route. Regional trains operated by TER Nord-Pas-de-Calais serve destinations including Lens, Jeumont, Cambrai and Lille-Flandres. The latter is 500 metres from Lille-Europe Station, the French hub for Eurostar services from the UK.
Buses and Tramway
The main bus company in Valenciennes is Transbus. The 640km network has more than 30 lines and as well as travelling to all parts of the town also links villages and towns in surrounding rural areas. One-way tickets are available onboard for €1.50 (£1.30). Multi-trip tickets need to be pre-purchased from official outlets. The 11 mile (18km) long tramway is modern and follows a track from the University of Valenciennes, past the train station and terminates at Espace Villars.
Taxi-drivers wait at the station for passengers. Several companies also offer telephone reservation services. Two of these are Gourgeot Taxi (telephone +33 67496 3804) and Taxi Fifon (telephone +33 62197 0407). The minimum fare is €1.90 (£1.60) and this increases with distance travelled and waiting time.
Valenciennes is at the centre of a triangle formed by Lille, Arras and the frontier with Belgium. The national parks of St Armand les Eaux and Avesnes are pastoral districts within a few miles drive of town. Car hire provides the means of reaching Lewarde, the Somme Valley’s WWI monuments and unique tourism draws in the region.
The Great War Museum - Those with even a passing interest in history will enjoy the many thousands of exhibits at the Historial de la Grande Guerre. Posters, helmets, uniforms, photographs, soldiers’ personal effects and newspaper reports allow visitors to relive the conflict that changed the world forever. The museum shop sells peerless souvenirs including tin soldiers, model tanks and period comics.
Lewarde Mining Heritage Centre - Lewarde is 22 miles from Valenciennes and home to the biggest coal-mining heritage centre in Europe. The centre was the Delloye mine until the 1970s. Visitors are able to walk through a preserved washroom and lamproom before descending to a 450-metre complex of galleries and coalfaces where they are able to witness the mine’s heavy machinery in operation.
St Amand les Eaux – This attractive town at the heart of Scarpe-Escaut National Park is a historic spa centre with waters believed to contain therapeutic properties. The Fountain of Bouillon is one of four sources used by town spas. Other town draws are mud-baths, a casino and elegant architecture. The surrounding park has lots of hiking trails which pass through verdant forest.