Charleville-Mézières France is a hidden gem in the region of Champagne-Ardennes. This town is not so well-known as compared to other French cities such as Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, and Strasbourg, since it is located outside the main road and thus less travelled by tourists. However, Charleville-Mézières France is one of the places that you should visit when in Champagne-Ardennes. This medieval city is located along the river Maas (Le Meuse) and has many things to offer for both tourists and locals. So if you have one free day in your trip and are just close by the area, you can visit Charleville-Mézières. This trip is well recommended especially if you have family and the weather is nice. In this blog, I will discuss the one day itinerary of this town as you can see in the map below.
Charleville-Mézières one day itinerary
1. Place Ducale (Charleville-Mézières square)
Place Ducale is the heart of Charleville-Mézières. It is a classical French square built with early 17th century buildings that is executed to perfection. In fact, this square can be as big as a soccer playing field. This square is surrounded with many restaurants and cafes, which provide seats outside to allow you to enjoy the beauty of the square. During summer season, or if the weather is beautiful, this square is filled with fun children and family activities such as carousels, sand games, water games, and so on. You can also find in the square the tourist information, exhibition, as well as museums in the vicinity of Place Ducale.
2. Musée de l’Ardenne
Musée de l’Ardenne is located in one of the corners of the Place Ducale. When visiting this museum, it is best to combine your visit with other two museums (Charleville – Maison des Ailleurs and Musée Ardennes) located just close to the square. It only costs 8 euros per person for the visit to these three museums. We went to Musée de l’Ardenne since it was rainy during our visit and we were happy to discover some histories of this city. This museum is a four story building that displays a range of exhibits such as centuries old pots, coins, guns, paintings, and puppets. Note that the descriptions of the items in this museum is in French, so it is wise to buy an English booklet guide if you are not French speaking.
3. Musee Arthur Rimbaud in Charleville-Mézières France
If you are a fan of Arthur Rimbaud, then you should not miss this museum. Arthur Rimbaud is a famous French poet that influenced the modern literature and arts of Surrealism. This museum is just 3-minutes walk away from Place Ducale towards the river Maas. The museum’s building is set-up in a 17th century water mill facing the river Maas. The tour of the building begins in the attic, and going down each floor (a total of 4 floors), where you can find some handwritten manuscripts, the history, and life of Arthur Rimbaud together with another famous French poet Paul Verlaine. You can also find in the museum information about the childhood of Arthur Rimbaud, his high school awards, his first publication in the newspaper of Ardennes, the fews copies of his early publications and a class-photo during his elementary school days. When planning your visit to the museum, note that it is close from 12:00-14:00.
4. Église Saint-Rémi Charleville-Mézières France
The Église Saint-Rémi is just a few steps from the Place Ducale. This church is built on the site of the chapel where Arthur Rimbaud was baptized. It was also the place where Madame Rimbaud had a Requiem Mass in honour of his son, who died 3 weeks after his 37th birthday. The funeral of Arthur Rimbaud was held on November 14, 1891.
5. Parc du Mont Olympe
After your visit to Musee Arthur Rimbaud, you can walk further to the Parc du Mont Olympe. You will find a little harbour along the river Maas. This area is nice for family with children since there is a playground in the area and you can enjoy the relaxing view of the forest and the river.
6. Statue de Charles de Gonzague
If you walk on the other side of Place Ducale (which is the complete opposite direction of Musee Arthur Rimbaud), you can find the statue of Charles of Gonzague. He is the Duke of Mantova (Italy), Nevers and Charleville, and is known as the founder of Charleville (which is now called Charleville-Mézières).
7. Basilique Notre-Dame-d’Espérance in Charleville-Mézières France
Approximately 15 minutes walk further from statue de Charles de Gonzague, where you need to cross the bridge over the river, you will reach the Basilique of Notre Dame-d’Espérance. It is a Gothic style church building that was built between 1499-1682. The Basilique of Notre Dame-d’Espérance is famous for its beautiful stained glass, that took 25 years in the making, and the drawings of René Durrbach, a contemporary of Pablo Picasso. This church has suffered severe damage throughout the history of religious wars (in 1815), French revolution, and World Wars 1 and II. Luckily it has been restored and became a historical monument in the year 1910.
8. Fort des Ayvelles Charleville-Mézières France
The Fort des Ayvelles, also known as Fort Dubois-Crancé, is a fortification in the southern area of Charleville-Mézières France. This fort is established to protect the city centre away from artillery. However, the citadel has suffered a strange fate during the German invasion of France in World War 1 (1914), as the city hardly fought back the invaders. The fort is an interesting illustration of how water management, ammunition, and powder storage technology come together to protect the city from invasion. There is also a nice walking paths to the forest and picnic tables where you can relax with family and friends.
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