Lens, Pas-de-Calais
Lens is a commune
Communes of France
The commune is the lowest level of administrative division in the French Republic. French communes are roughly equivalent to incorporated municipalities or villages in the United States or Gemeinden in Germany...

 in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. It is one of France's large Picard
Picard language
Picard is a language closely related to French, and as such is one of the larger group of Romance languages. It is spoken in two regions in the far north of France – Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy – and in parts of the Belgian region of Wallonia, the district of Tournai and a part of...

cities along with Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

, Valenciennes
Valenciennes is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.It lies on the Scheldt river. Although the city and region had seen a steady decline between 1975 and 1990, it has since rebounded...

, Amiens
Amiens is a city and commune in northern France, north of Paris and south-west of Lille. It is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy...

, Roubaix
Roubaix is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is located between the cities of Lille and Tourcoing.The Gare de Roubaix railway station offers connections to Lille, Tourcoing, Antwerp, Ostend and Paris.-Culture:...

, Tourcoing
Tourcoing is a city in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune within the département of Nord.Tourcoing is situated near the cities of Lille and Roubaix and the Belgian border.-Main sights:...

, Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

, and Douai
-Main sights:Douai's ornate Gothic style belfry was begun in 1380, on the site of an earlier tower. The 80 m high structure includes an impressive carillon, consisting of 62 bells spanning 5 octaves. The originals, some dating from 1391 were removed in 1917 during World War I by the occupying...


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
-Main sights:Douai's ornate Gothic style belfry was begun in 1380, on the site of an earlier tower. The 80 m high structure includes an impressive carillon, consisting of 62 bells spanning 5 octaves. The originals, some dating from 1391 were removed in 1917 during World War I by the occupying...

, forms the metropolitan area of Douai-Lens, whose population at the 1999 census was 552,682.


Lens is an industrial city and has a long history of coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 mining. Surrounding the town are many large spoil tips, evidence of over a hundred years of mining, which came to an end in the 1960s.

The city supports a top-level
Ligue 1
Ligue 1 , is the French professional league for association football clubs. It is the country's primary football competition and serves as the top division of the French football league system. Ligue 1 is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the other being Ligue 2....

Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

 team, Racing Club de Lens
RC Lens
Racing Club de Lens is a French association football club based in the northern city of Lens in the Pas-de-Calais department. Its nickname, sang et or , comes from its traditional colours of red and gold. Their primary rivals are their northern neighbors Lille OSC, whom they contest the Derby du...



In the 1520s, Lens was part of the Spanish Netherlands, and only passed back to France in 1659.

In 1849, coal was discovered in Lens, leading to the expansion of the city, becoming an important industrial center.

At Vimy
Vimy is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.-Geography and history:Vimy is a farming town, situated some north of Arras, at the junction of the D51 and the N17 roads....

, a small town very close to Lens, are the Vimy Memorial
Vimy Memorial
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for First World War Canadian soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known...

 and Vimy Ridge.

From 2012, Lens will also be the location of the Louvre-Lens
The Louvre-Lens is a planned branch museum of the Musée du Louvre, due to open in 2012 in the industrial French city of Lens, Pas-de-Calais.-Origin:...


Notable people

  • Émile Basly
    Émile Basly
    Émile Basly is one of the great figures of trade unionism in mining in the mineral field of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, along with Arthur Lamendin. He is primarily known for his participation in the strike of 1884, when he became known as "the untameable miner" and "the tsar of Lens"...

    , trade unionist then mayor of the city, died there in 1928
  • Maurice Garin
    Maurice Garin
    Maurice-Francois Garin was a road bicycle racer best known for winning the inaugural Tour de France in 1903, and for being stripped of his title in the second Tour in 1904 along with eight others, for cheating.-Origins:Garin was born the son of Maurice Clément Garin and Maria Teresa...

    , first winner of Tour de France
    Tour de France
    The Tour de France is an annual bicycle race held in France and nearby countries. First staged in 1903, the race covers more than and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours", the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world. The...

    , died there in 1957
  • Jamila M'Barek
    Jamila M'Barek
    Jamila, Countess of Shaftesbury, Baroness Ashley of Wimborne St Giles and Baroness Cooper of Pawlett is the widow of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, and is imprisoned for having been an accomplice to the murder of her husband by her brother.-Background:Born circa 1961, she was one...

    , Countess of Shaftesbury, born there in c. 1961

External links

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