New Wonders of the World
UNESCO/ Hubert Bouvet
Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, France
It’s more about brawn than beauty in this part of France, where coal was mined from the 18th to the mid-20th centuries. Spread over nearly 300,000 acres, the site has 109 individual components, many of which demonstrate the intense social controls within these mining communities, meant as model worker villages and outfitted with schools, religious buildings, railways, offices, and other mining company structures. A visit here pays tribute to an important period in European industrialization and informs how and why workers began to mobilize in unions.