Douai is blessed with tons of historic sites. While you're here, check out the 12th-century Église Notre-Dame.
Plan a side trip to the underrated Opal Coast
Douai is about a 90-minute drive from the Côte d'Opale (Opal Coast), a lovely stretch of sandy beaches, green coves and sheltered bays. Car rental is a must.
Raise a glass of local brew to the giants
This being France, food is a major attraction, and in this region hearty favorites include cheese tarts, beef stews and thick terrines. But this being the Belgian border, beer is a favored libation. Try the local brewery, appropriately dubbed Les Brasseurs de Gayant (Giant brewers).
France's high speed rail carrier runs numerous trains to Douai on a daily basis from Paris Nord station. The trip takes around two hours. If you're coming from the UK, numerous TGV lines run from Calais and Dunkerque (Dunkirk); again, travel time is around two hours.
About 100,000 people descend on Douai for the festival, so it's best to book early. Look for hotels near the city centre, as you'll be within easy walking (or at least taxi) distance of the celebrations.