Lens, Pas-de-Calais

Lens (French pronunciation: [lɑ̃s] (listen); Picard: Linse) is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It is one of the main towns of Hauts-de-France along with Lille, Valenciennes, Amiens, Roubaix, Tourcoing, Arras and Douai. The inhabitants are called Lensois.

Lens in late-July 2006

Coat of arms
Location of Lens
Coordinates: 50°25′56″N 2°50′00″E
IntercommunalityCA Lens-Liévin
  Mayor (2014–2020) Sylvain Robert
11.70 km2 (4.52 sq mi)
  Density2,700/km2 (6,900/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
62498 /62300
Elevation27–71 m (89–233 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Metropolitan area

Lens belongs to the intercommunality of Lens-Liévin, which consists of 36 communes, with a total population of 250,000. Lens, along with Douai, forms the metropolitan area of Douai-Lens, whose population at the 1999 census was 552,682.[2]


Lens was initially a fortification from the Norman invasions. In 1180, it was owned by the Count of Flanders, and sovereignty was exercised by the Crown of France. In the 13th century, Lens received a charter from Louis VIII of France, allowing it to become a city. The Flemish razed the city in 1303. Prior to this, the city's population relied on its markets.[3] In 1526, Lens was made part of the Spanish Netherlands under the ownership of the French monarchy, and only passed back to France on 7 November 1659 with the Treaty of the Pyrenees.[4]

In 1849, coal was discovered in Lens after surveys were carried out at Annay, Courrières and Loos-en-Gohelle. This led to the expansion of the city into an important industrial center. The Lens Mining Company was founded in 1852 and experienced large profits.[5] The city was largely destroyed in the First World War and half of the population perished.[6] The Gare de Lens railway station, built in 1927, is served by regional trains towards Lille, Arras, Douai, Dunkirk, Calais and Valenciennes. In World War II, the Allies bombarded the city from the air, leaving 500 dead.[7]

Approximately nine kilometres from Lens, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial was opened in 1936, dedicated to the Battle of Vimy Ridge (part of the Battle of Arras) and the First World War Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the war; the Memorial is also the site of two Canadian cemeteries.[8] The centennial commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge was held at the Memorial on 9 April 2017. The official ceremony included comments from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General David Johnston as representative of the Monarchy of Canada, Prince Charles as representative of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the President of France François Hollande, and the Prime Minister of France Bernard Cazeneuve.[9][10]

The last coal mine in Lens closed in 1986. Since 2012, Lens has been the location of the Louvre-Lens art museum.


Lens is connected to the TGV network, with high speed trains to Paris.


Football club RC Lens plays in the town. Their stadium, Stade Bollaert-Delelis, was used for UEFA Euro 1984, the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016 and the 1999 Rugby World Cup and the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

See also


  1. "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. OECD (8 August 2006). OECD Territorial Reviews OECD Territorial Reviews: France 2006. OECD Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-92-64-02266-9.
  3. "Medieval era". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  4. "Modern era". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  5. "Discovery of Coal". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  6. "World War I". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  7. "World War II". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  8. "Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France". The Great War UK. The Great War UK. 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2017. The ridge runs in a direction from Givenchy-en-Gohelle in the north-west to Farbus in the south-east.
  9. "Vimy Ridge: Royals commemorate defining WW1 battle". BBC. BBC. 9 April 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  10. François Hollande et Bernard Cazeneuve confirment leur venue à Vimy le 9 avril, Le Voix du Nord, 25 March 2017, retrieved 1 April 2017
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