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Lens town guide

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Visitors by hire car will probably not have arrived at this northern French town with the intention of using it as a tourist venue. Situated on what used to be the French Coalfield and sign posted off the Autoroute between Calais and Paris, this is a large industrial town. There are several good hypermarkets on the outskirts of the town which might be useful if you are heading towards home.

The town itself was pretty well destroyed during the Second World War and the rebuilding has left something to be desired. As you enter the town you will notice the cone shaped coal spoil heaps, it is these that give the clue as to something worth investigating. The coal mines have closed now but several pit heads have been preserved and made into interesting museums. Use your hire car to find the Delloye Colliery and Museum or the Musee de L'Ecole et de la Mines de Harnes, the first is the larger and covers all aspects of mining. The latter is smaller and looks into the social aspects of coal mining. It also houses a school museum.

Car hire users will also be able to look at the various museums and sights relating to actions in both World Wars, the largest of these is the Musee de Souvenir which contains thousands of artefacts and several reconstructions.

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