Our host town: Valenciennes

The Valenciennes Métropole urban area is situated in the Hainaut region. The automotive and rail industries, digital design, and logistics are all economic centres of excellence in the area. But the Valenciennes area has also stood out for its abundant talent. Without a doubt, this is an area synonymous with artistic output and initiative.

Valenciennes' history offers some explanation for these artistic leanings. The town, which even minted its own currency back in the days of Charles the Bald (circa 870), used its wealth to promote the training and establishment of different artistes given the task of bringing an added decorative touch to the area’s comfortable dwellings. The trade which underpinned the growing wealth of the city gave rise to a unique culture among its inhabitants, one that was very demanding but also open-minded and which appears to be the main reason behind this frequently expressed capacity to imagine, to create, to discover, to find solutions, to endure the trials and tribulations of history and to come back stronger each time.

Among the manufactured goods in the Valenciennes area, the one which has made it most famous is lace. This contributed to the growth of the city in the 17th and 18th centuries, before the first French coal mining companies began the first trials of new machinery and techniques in the Valenciennes region, which would lead to the discovery of coal for the first time in France in 1721 at Fresnes-sur-Escaut. And then there are also the more original products such as that of chicory, for which France's first factory was opened at Onnaing in 1778. The impressive rise of the chicory processing industry once again demonstrates the region's pioneering spirit and its flair for innovation and enterprise.

Valenciennes also hosts one of the world's largest schools of digital creation: created by the CCI Grand Hainaut, the Rubika Higher Institute of Design (ISD) for industrial design Supinfocom Rubika for animation and Supinfogame Rubika for video games.

Even today, the Valenciennes area is proud of this tradition of innovation and creativity with its world-famous competitive clusters focused on the digital sector, design, logistics and the ITRANS land transport cluster.