The prefecture of Haute-Marne, the town of Chaumont, built in the 10th century on a rocky spur overlooking the Marne and Suize Valleys, has kept a picturesque charm from its medieval days. Lovers of old buildings should take a walk in the historic centre to discover Chaumont's ancient heritage: a Gothic and Renaissance-style basilica, a keep from the 11th and 12th centuries, the 13th-century Arse Tower, turreted houses with corbels, 15th and 16th-century private mansions and more...
A relic of the castle of the Counts of Champagne, the feudal keep, a square tower standing 19 metres tall, offers a beautiful panoramic view over the Suize Valley from its terrace. The Museum of Art and History, based in the lower rooms of the old castle, displays collections of archaeology (including a bronze breastplate from the 8th century B.C.) and Fine Arts (paintings from the French, Italian, Flemish and Dutch schools; works by the Bouchardon family...).
Another of the town's flagship monuments, the basilica of St. John the Baptist, dates back to the 13th-16th centuries and is remarkable for its elegant south door, splendid Entombment in polychrome stone dating from 1471, and its sculptures by the Chaumont artist Bouchardon!
To enjoy a beautiful view of the basilica's towers and the old town's façades, head to Square Philippe Lebon, in the middle of which stands a stone statue of Philippe Lebon, the inventor of lighting gas.
Also worth seeing is the Crèche Museum, on Rue des Frères Mistarlet, which has collections of old crèches including superb Neapolitan crèches from the 18th century.
The House of Books and Posters, a cultural centre based in the silos of an old agricultural cooperative, contains an exceptional collection of old and contemporary posters, and hosts temporary exhibitions, conferences and workshops throughout the year. Every year in May-June, the graphic arts are honoured at the international festival of posters and graphic design, which is held at various locations in the town.
To the west of Chaumont, be sure to go and admire the magnificent railway viaduct, inaugurated in 1857, which overlooks the Suize Valley. With its fifty arches spread over three storeys, this remarkable hewn stone structure is 654 metres long and 52 metres tall, and has a specially created footpath on the first storey.
Chaumont is the prefecture town of the department of Haute-Marne, in Greater East.
In the heart of the Plateau of Langres, where the Seine, the Aube and the Meuse, in particular, originate at the junction of Champagne and Burgundy, Chaumont (literally the Bald Mountain) was first established as early as the 10th Century on a spur without trees which dominated the valleys of the Suize and the Marne. Benefiting from a strategic positioning on the roads of communication and thus commercial exchanges as military stakes, the city is chosen like residence of the Counts of Champagne from the thirteenth century. Under the first empire, the sovereigns united against Napoleon I signed the treaty of the Holy Alliance and in 1917, Chaumont welcomed the headquarters of the American armies.
In the twentieth century, its status as a prefecture city allowed the city to retain its tertiary activities and garrisons, and if the glove industry that made a part of its reputation gradually disappeared, a few subcontracting units (BTP, Automotive) take over. Having preserved a large part of its rich heritage, the city which has nearly 24,000 inhabitants has become the capital of the art of poster and graphic design.
A visit to the city can begin with its many elements of architectural and historical heritage. This is the case with the chapel of the Jesuits, whose construction was completed in 1640, and whose rich interior decor is remarkable. Such is the altarpiece by Claude Collignon (1632), which resembles a theatrical decoration completed with a high relief, representing an assumption, realized in the eighteenth century. To the right of the façade is the Bouchardon fountain dedicated to the sculptor of King Louis XV. Open in the afternoon (except on Tuesday). Continue by the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste, which became a collegiate church in 1474 and a basilica in 1948. Built at the beginning of the 13th century, enlarged and reworked until the 16th century, it houses many works of art. Inside, in particular a sepulcher with life-size figures and various works by the Chaumont sculptor Jean-Baptiste Bouchardon (high altar, furniture). Open from 9am to 6pm.
Also worth seeing is the keep of the Counts of Champagne, built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries on a rocky spur and the last vestige of the castle. Square tower 20 meters high, it retains its medieval appearance. Guided visit on reservation on +33 3 25 03 80 80.
At the old hamlet of Reclancourt, to see also the church of Saint-Aignan whose existence goes back to the thirteenth century. The building was rebuilt and modified in the 16th and 19th centuries but it still has some old parts, such as its massive and decorative bell tower. Inside, we can admire the altarpiece of the gilded wooden altar, ordered by Jean-Baptiste Bouchardon in September 1735. In the neighboring cemetery, there are numerous funerary monuments dedicated to the former glove-makers and soldiers of the first war. Guided tour of the church and the cemetery by calling +33 3 25 03 80 80.
The Baltard halls designed in 1889 and their entrance gate decorated with a clock, the town hall built on the Late 18th century in a classical style or the monument dedicated to the Franco-American Friendship built after the First World War, which represents a woman (the fatherland) and a French soldier shaking hands with an American soldier. Discovery trail of Chaumont.
In another kind, it is impossible not to notice the railway viaduct inaugurated in 1856, 600 m long, composed of 50 arches over a height of 50 m. It is considered one of the most remarkable works of art of the second half of the nineteenth century. The walkers can take the first floor (nice view of the Suize valley). The viaduct has recently been the subject of an astonishing lighting that constitutes a spectacle as such. Each day, one color predominates and on the weekend, all the colors blend into one another to create a "tunnel of colors".
Note that the Tourist Office offers guided tours of the city including the main heritage sites. Price: 3,50 and 5,50 euros. Information on +33 3 25 03 80 80.
Chaumont also has a museum of art and history housed in the lower rooms of the former palace of the Counts of Champagne (12th and 14th centuries). There are several collections of archeology, history and fine arts, including paintings by Paul de Vos, Bartolomeo Bettera, François Alexandre Pernot, drawings and sculptures by Jean-Baptiste and Edmé Bouchardon. Open every day from 2 pm to 6 pm except Tuesdays. Entrance fee: 2 euros. Information at +33 (0) 3 25 03 01 99.
The amazing museum of the crèche also presents the most beautiful collection of napolitan crèches of the eighteenth century preserved in France. Other nativity cribs in terracotta and spun glass from Nevers and paintings from the Nativity, including the famous "Holy Family at the Staircase" from Poussin's workshop, complete this collection. Open every day except Tuesdays from 2pm to 6pm. Price: 2 euros (shared entrance with the museum of art and history). Information on +33 (0) 3 25 32 39 85.
Also to be seen is the Musée de la Ganterie Tréfousse, a company founded in 1854. It developed rapidly and employed nearly half of the working population of the city. Open every day except Tuesdays from 2pm to 6pm. Admission: 1,50 euro (ticket also valid for the museum of the crèche). Information at +33 3 25 03 80 80.
It is impossible to make a stop at Chaumont without a passage at the Sign, national center of graphic design, inaugurated in 2016. Initiated by the donation in 1905 of 5,000 posters by the deputy Gustave Dailly, Of posters kept at Chaumont is the most important of France. It now comprises about 45,000 emblematic pieces. This collection is at the origin of the festival now biennial. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 14h to 18h and Saturday from 10h to 18h. Free entry. Information on +33 3 25 35 79 01.
It will also be noted that the remarkable Carmelite House, which dates from the 16th century, now hosts many exhibitions. Information at +33 6 08 25 52 18.
It is probably time to air. This can be done by visiting the Agathe Roullot garden, with 22 sculpture bollards depicting the animals of the garden in order to sensitize the visitors to the biodiversity.
On the leisure side, the fishermen are at the party on Chaumont and its surroundings. Contact the +33 3 25 32 51 10 for information on suitable locations and regulations.
For a boat trip, from April to October, contact the +33 3 25 03 33 02.
For cycling enthusiasts, group excursions are proposed by the local cyclotourism club on +33 7 83 01 30 74 And discoveries of the city in 2 wheels are proposed by another association in +33 6 73 44 53 58.
For hikers in general, many routes are suggested on various themes, intended for walkers or mountain bikers. Inquire at +33 3 25 03 80 80. Those who prefer horseback riding will join the equestrian center in +33 6 75 27 62 13.
Sport side, again, the tennis club is open to visitors. Information on +33 3 25 30 69 05.
Finally, for the pleasures of swimming and idleness, the summer swimming pool with slides and play areas is open from mid-June to the end of August. Entry: 2,90 euros. Contact on +33 3 25 02 82 10.
In the absence of this, the indoor swimming pool includes two pools and is open all year. Information on +33 3 25 03 26 32.
In 2017, the festival of the poster of Chaumont becomes the Biennale of graphic design. Contests, exhibitions, meetings and conferences follow one another from mid-May to the end of September. Information on +33 (0) 3 25 03 86 97.
Original manifestation, the Grand Pardon is celebrated for more than 5 centuries, when Saint John the Baptist coincides with a Sunday. The next edition will be celebrated in 2018. On the program, besides the religious celebration, many popular and festive animations in the heart of the city.
Finally, in another area, the market halls host a famous flea market every third Sunday of May to September. It is still under the marketplace that the weekly market, on Saturday morning, from 8 am to 1 pm, a good opportunity to discover the specialties of the high-marne region.