Lens in late-July 2006
|Canton||Chief town of 3 cantons|
|• Mayor (2001–2008)||Guy Delcourt|
|Area1||11.70 km2 (4.52 sq mi)|
|• Density||2,800/km2 (7,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|INSEE/Postal code||62498 / 62300|
|Elevation||27–71 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.2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Lens (French pronunciation: [lɑ̃s] ( listen)) is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. It is one of the main towns of Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie along with Lille, Valenciennes, Amiens, Roubaix, Tourcoing, Arras and Douai. The inhabitants are called Lensois.
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.
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. 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.
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. The city was largely destroyed in the First World War and half of the population perished. 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. At Vimy, a small town very close to Lens, are the Vimy Memorial and Vimy Ridge. Since 2012, Lens has been the location of the Louvre-Lens.
Lens is connected to the TGV network, with high speed trains to Paris.
- OECD (8 August 2006). OECD Territorial Reviews OECD Territorial Reviews: France 2006. OECD Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-92-64-02266-9.
- "Medieval era". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Modern era". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "Discovery of Coal". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "World War I". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- "World War II". Ville de Lens. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
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