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The station of Fresnes was recently one of the shooting locations for the television series Germinal that aired on France 2 in 2021.

Anzin railway

Coal track through Northern France

From 1838 onwards, the railway from Somain in France to Péruwelz in Belgium served several coal mines around Valenciennes and crossed the Belgian border at Vieux-Condé.

The 38-kilometer-long railway was run by the Compagnie des mines d'Anzin. This mining giant held sway in northern French coal exploitation for almost two centuries and operated, among other things, the Fosse Arenberg.

In 1963, passenger traffic disappeared, and later, freight transport also disappeared. In 1989, the closure of the Ledoux mine in Condé-sur-l'Escaut dealt a death blow to the railway.

Walking and cycling route

The tracks have been demolished today, and since 2015, the railway has been revived as a walking and cycling path along the mining and railway heritage relics: the Voie Verte des Gueules Noires.

In Vieux-Condé, where the railway left France, the border station has disappeared, only a substation at the former level crossing on Rue Jean Jaurès remained standing and was restored.

Since 2014, you can take the tram towards Valenciennes from the former station at the latest. However, we continue to follow the route of the former railway line.

Railway bridge

After you cycle or walk more than a kilometer south, you end up at an iron viaduct. The railway crossed the D954 via this bridge.

Switching station

The next stop on the line was about five kilometers away, in Fresnes-sur-Escaut. There, you cycle on the former railway track, first past a link building that has been renovated, just like in Vieux-Condé.

Fresnes station building

Nearby, you will find the platforms of Fresnes station, where both the station building and the shelters have been preserved.

The station dates from the early nineteenth century, and the facade welcomes travelers with rich geometric motifs in red, white, and gray bricks. After dismantling the railway in the 1980s, the station escaped the demolition hammer.

Today, the building is part of the 353 elements of the northern French mining basin inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The station was recently one of the shooting locations for the television series Germinal that aired on France 2 in 2021.

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