A Town of Art and History, once appreciated by the writer Victor Hugo who sang its praises, the medieval town of Laon, flanked by seven kilometres of ramparts, contains over eighty listed or classified historical monuments.
Its splendid Gothic cathedral, topped by five mighty towers, majestically dominates the whole upper town. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Cathedral of Our Lady has a harmonious west façade, with doors adorned with sculpted tympanums, and its west towers have unusual life-sized statues of bulls, a reference to an old local legend. Once inside, admire the grandiose elevation of the nave, as well as the magnificent rose stained glass windows of the choir and north transept...
Around the cathedral, take a walk along the ramparts and medieval streets and discover the monuments and buildings of the fortified town: the old bishop's palace, now the Courthouse; the 12th-century Hôtel-Dieu, the headquarters of the Tourist Office in Laon country, and its Gothic room with rib vaults; the citadel build on the orders of Henry IV; the Roman Chapel of the Templars, whose walls enclose the cadaver tomb of Guillaume de Harcigny, doctor to Charles VI; the Ardon Door, dating from the 13th century... Walk along the ramparts and you can also enjoy untrammelled views of the lower town and the landscapes of the surrounding plains. The tour of the upper town continues westwards, with a look at the Soissons Door and leaning tower, relics of the medieval era, along with the Abbey of St. Martin with its old 12th-century Abbey Church of the Prémontrés, 18th-century cloister with a medieval garden, and convent buildings, which nowadays are home to the municipal library.
Lovers of art and archaeology should go to Laon Museum, based in the old Commandery of the Templars, to see its collections of Greek, Egyptian and Cypriot antiquities, regional archaeology and 15th to 19th-century paintings from the French, Italian, Flemish and Dutch schools.
When it comes to festivities, try the Médiévales in June, with a medieval market, camps and street activities; and Laon Festival in September and October, dedicated to classical music.
Prefecture of the Aisne and City of Art and History, the town of Laon takes place about fifty kilometers from Reims, a few kilometers from the coast of Ile-de-France. The one that has been boasted many times by Victor Hugo for its beauty and charm, continues to seduce visitors with its more than eighty listed monuments.
Probably populated since the Neolithic, the city of Laon however does not know a permanent occupation that towards the middle of the 1st century bc. Frequent place of residence of the last Merovingian kings, it develops strongly in the Middle Ages, in particular through the construction of his famous cathedral. Besieged during the wars of religion, she sees her face gradually change at this time, before suffering the various Franco-German conflicts that will succeed until the mid-twentieth century.
Awarded two flowers in the contest of cities and flowered villages of France, Laon is also appreciated by tourists for the beauty of its architecture and the richness of its history to discover the time of a stroll in the heart of the medieval city.
Gothic style, the Notre-Dame cathedral served as a model for those of Chartres and Paris. Built between 1150 and 1180, it was however rebuilt at the beginning of the 13th century because of the smallness of its choir. Lovers of old stones will particularly appreciate the four campaniles, the lantern tower, and animals carved life-size. Today listed as a Historical Monument, it also features beautiful murals, including an icon of the late twelfth century Saint Face from Serbia, donated by Pope Urban IV. Open to the public, the cloister is not lacking in interest with its unique gallery with seven spans. Its remains are also classified as Historical Monuments.
Near the cathedral, you can not miss the episcopal palace listed as a Historical Monument since the end of the 19th century. Today, the building serves as a high court in the city of Laon. In the old big room of the bishop's palace, now the room of the court of assizes, one can admire decorated capitals, as well as three turrets and a gallery of arcades. Do not miss either the two superimposed chapels of the second half of the 12th century.
Laon has a beautiful religious heritage to discover the time of a walk in the streets. Founded in the first half of the twelfth century, the abbey church of St. Martin has a facade of the second half of the thirteenth century. His abbatial home was transformed into Hôtel-Dieu in the 17th century. Listed as a Historical Monument, the church of Saint-Martin-au-Parvis dates from the twelfth century and was transformed in the 1970s into a court of industrial tribunals.
Templar Commandery before being hospitable, the Templar chapel dates from the twelfth century and housed a prison under the French Revolution. You will also appreciate the Protestant temple of the end of the 19th century, the former convent of the Ladies, the church of Vaux-sous-Laon, the church of Saint-Pierre-au-Marché, the church of Notre-Dame-la- Deep or the church of Saint-Rémy-au-Velours. A small tourist train allows to appreciate all the charms of the old town.
It is still possible to discover the ramparts of the city with its towers and gates, as well as a beautiful town hall built in the first half of the nineteenth century. Two German cemeteries, those of Bousson and the Field of Maneuver, allow to learn a little more about the history of the First World War.
Housed in the former Commandery of the Knights Templar, the Museum of Art and Archeology Laon today has the label Museum of France. It presents a beautiful collection of regional and Mediterranean archeology, as well as fine art collections.
- Weekly markets are held every day of the week except Mondays.
- Between March and May, Laon hosts the jazz concerts of Jazz'itudes.
- In May, place in Cap'N'Roll and its concerts of current music.
- In June take place Medieval, with the market, the street animations and the encampments in the old.
- Fireworks and a ball are offered in mid-July for the National Day.
- Laon hosts in September and October an interesting festival of classical music.
- A Christmas market is proposed in December.
Exhibition in Laon: "Premonstratensian, 900 years: Material and Spiritual Heritage"
- From 18 september to 18 december 2021
- Rue Marcelin Berthelot
- On the occasion of the 900 years of this canonical order founded in the Aisne, this plural exhibition mixes manuscripts, printed books, and objects relating to the Premonstratensians… - RV in the Station Room of the Suzanne-Martinet Library! (consult it for its opening hours)
Exhibitions in Laon: "A Region, Landscapes" and "Landscapes in Hauts-de-France, a Permanent Creation"
- From 18 september to 30 november 2021
- 34 rue Sérurier
- Two exhibitions to see in the CAUE de l'Aisne premises, from a photo contest organized by the urcaue des Hauts-de-France… - RV from Monday to Friday in the premises of the CAUE de l'Aisne, from 9h to 12h and from 14h to 17h!
Laon Underground Tour:"Secrets Under the City"
- From 14 to 31 october 2021
- Place du parvis Gautier de Mortagne
- Come and discover our new underground tour : more immersive thanks to the videos and sound effects, more fun thanks to the panels and the closing film, this audio-guided tour will retrace the history of Laon by going back 40 million years. - Get ready to live an experience in the heart of time, every day at 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm! / duration of the visit: 1h - (tickets and audioguides to be collected at the reception of the Tourist Office / comment of the audioguide adapted to children over 6 years old / attention, some projected images may strike the sensitivity of the youngest / family passport for 2 adults and 2 children at 20€, inquire at the reception). - attention: please come 30 minutes before each departure time with your ID! / any exempt ticket reservation nevertheless requires registration. - [covid-19 info]: wearing of the mask mandatory for the guide and visitors / visit limited to 25 people per session / hydroalcoholic gel available at the entrance of the Office and underground / implementation of a specific signage reminding the instructions to respect / disinfection and quarantine of each audio guide after use. - [info sanitary pass]: in accordance with the government announcements, the sanitary pass becomes mandatory (from 18 years) for anyone wishing to follow one of our guided tours, and this from this Thursday 12/08. - Thus, anyone booking one of our guided tours via our website http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com undertakes to produce us his health pass on the date of realization of his visit; otherwise, he will not be able to follow it.
Exhibition in Laon: "Grégory Valentin"
- From 15 october to 4 december 2021
- Place Aubry
- Architect by training, Grégory Valentin, is a lover of books, lines and Art. He integrates in his paintings the complete literary works by playing with spaces, fonts, letters to restore an intense emotion and a perfect aesthetic… - RV in espace Bernard-Noël de la MAL (every Tuesday from 10h to 13h and from 14h to 18h/ every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 13h to 18h / every Saturday from 14h to 17h)!
Guided Tour in Laon: 'In the footsteps of the Canons'
- From 16 to 17 october 2021
- Place du parvis Gautier de Mortagne
- It is said that the college of canons of Laon - those religious attached to the service of the bishop - was one of the most important in the kingdom in medieval times. Your guide will lead you to the places they walked in the neighborhood adjacent to the cathedral… - RV every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday at 16h at the Tourist Office to collect your tickets ! - (reservation mandatory because visit limited to 15 people per session / wearing mask mandatory / duration: 1h15)
Nature Outing in Laon: "Trees in Autumn"
- On 17 october 2021
- During this outing, we will give you tips to learn how to recognize trees in autumn, even without their leaves. We will tell you anecdotes and above all, we will give you their biggest secret: their properties! - A walk organized by the Centre Permanent d'Initiatives pour l'Environnement (CPIE) of the Pays de l'Aisne in partnership with the City of Laon (reservation required because limited number of places / place of RV communicated to the reservation / duration: 2h30)
Guided Tour in Laon: 'Notre-Dame Cathedral'
- From 17 to 26 october 2021
- Place du parvis Gautier de Mortagne
- Discover this masterpiece of Gothic art by visiting the cathedral on the ground with your guide, walking through the nave and its spans: the major building of the medieval city will have (almost) no more secrets for you! - RV at the Tourist Office every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday at 15h! - (limited to 15 people per session / wearing a mask mandatory / this visit does not include access to the tower or the grandstand / duration: 1h / registration mandatory at the Tourist Office) - [info pass sanitaire]: in accordance with government announcements, the pass sanitaire becomes mandatory (from 12 years and 2 months) for anyone wishing to follow one of our guided tours, and this from Thursday 12/08/2021. - Thus, anyone booking one of our guided tours beforehand via our website http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com undertakes to produce his sanitary pass to us on the date of realization of his visit; otherwise, he will not be able to follow it.
Concert in Laon: "Cookie and the Biscuit Rollers"
- On 17 october 2021
- Rue William-Henry Waddington
- Cookie is originally from Australia and she sings blues in the manner of Merline Johnson or Bessie Smith. It is an acoustic combo, rag band from the north of Aisne, called “Les Biscuit Rollers” that accompanies it. Their music is Hokum: a blues style that emerged in Louisiana in the 20s… - RV at the Conservatoire de musique et de danse du Pays de Laon (Rue Willima-Henry Waddington, lower town) from 16h!
Night of Jazz in Laon: "Daniel Sidney Bechet & Etienne Mbappé and The Prophets"
- On 19 october 2021
- Place Aubry
- The one who was bassist of Joe Zawinul, Manu Dibango, Salif Keita, Ray Charles or John McLaughli - excuse me! - will give this concert at the Maison des Arts et Loisirs at 20:30! - And this Night of Jazz will also see the presence of the Daniel Sidney-Bechet Quintet: to pay tribute to his father, the drummer Daniel-Sidney Bechet, only son of Sidney Bechet, surrounded himself with the best specialists of this music with the orchestra of Olivier Franc, unanimously recognized as the best disciple of Sidney Bechet… - (for the record, this concert was originally scheduled for 11/09/2020 but had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 epidemic). - RV at the Maison des Arts et Loisirs (Place Aubry, medieval city) from 20h!
Jazz'tiudes Concert in Laon : "Awek"
- On 20 october 2021
- Place Aubry
- Toulouse blues with Awek, who already has 11 albums to his credit (with the duo Rosaway in the first part)! - RV at la MAL from 20:30!