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Soissons

Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Aisne

Soissons - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Aisne
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As the former capital of France during the time of the kingdom of the Franks, the town of Soissons has retained a rich religious heritage from the medieval era. Discover it through its main monuments, which are:

The Gothic Cathedral of St. Gervais and St. Protais, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, is superb with its transept's north and south arms, deambulatory with five radiant chapels, wrought iron choir enclosure and painting of the Adoration of the Shepherds by the artist Rubens;

Remarkable remains of the old Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, founded in 1076 by Lord Hugues le Blanc, can still be seen today, including the impressive and dizzying façade of the abbey church, topped by two tall towers, the 13th-century refectory, and the two galleries of the Gothic cloister;

The old Abbey of St. Leger, founded in 1139, whose buildings are now home to the Soissons Museum. Nowadays collections relating to local history, archaeology and the Fine Arts are on display there.

Additional information
Soissons

Soissons is a town in the Aisne department in the Hauts-de-France region, 55 km northeast of Reims and 30 km south-west of Laon.

With a population of just over 29,000, the town is surrounded by woods and agricultural crops, and its economy remains based on a few industrial units, but especially the exploitation of the sugar beet (typical of Picardy) Several tertiary activities areas (services).

Soissons was one of the first capitals of France and has preserved important patrimonial testimonies of this period pomp.

An important Roman city, it was chosen as a royal city by the first Merovingians (from the 5th to the 8th century) and then by the first Capetian monarchs (from the 10th century).

The height of its prosperity is in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, although in history it was the episode of the Vase of Soissons that made it famous: the last strong man of the Roman Empire, Syagrius is Defeated by King Clovis in 486. The latter then demanded one of his soldiers to hand him a precious vase in order to restore it to the Bishop of Reims. The soldier refuses, in the name of the tradition that the booty is divided among all, and it breaks the base. A year later, Clovis passing his troops in review recognizes the soldier, splits his skull and declares: "So you made the vase of Soissons".

Although affected by the Hundred Years War, then by the wars of religions and finally the Napoleonic conflicts and the world wars, Soissons remains for the visitor a rich tourist stage, with its monuments and vestiges.

Things to see and do

One can begin the discovery of the heritage of Soissons by its ancient vestiges: thus traces of the old castrum are visible place Mantua, but especially the decors of Gallo-Roman dwellings uncovered near the current high school Gérard de Nerval (statues, mosaics, murals).

From its medieval past, Soissons offers remarkable testimonials.

This is the case of the abbey Saint-Médard, founded in the 6th century by Clotaire. Essentially there remains only its crypt sheltering the tombs of the descendants of Clovis. Visit accompanied by a guide only. Information on +33 3 23 53 17 37.

Also worth seeing are the remains of the Notre-Dame abbey (ninth), but above all the Saint-Léger abbey, founded in 1139, which now houses the collections of the municipal museum (archeology, fine arts). Price: 1 and 2 euros. Information at +33 3 23 55 94 73.

Continue with Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais Cathedral, whose construction began in 1176 and ended in 1479. There are two periods of the Gothic style. Its movable heritage is also unique.

Also noteworthy is the Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (11th to 13th centuries): its two bell-towers, its sculpted decors, its vast refectory and its fortifications make it a unique monument of Gothic inspiration. The site hosts temporary exhibitions of the city museum. Information at +33 3 23 53 42 40.

The Pavillon de l'Arquebuse (17th century, whose style recalls that of the Place des Vosges in Paris) and the Saint-Charles chapel (XVIIIth) are also worth a detour.

One can not forget the Grand Place and its 17th and 18th century administrative buildings, as well as its refined private mansions such as the Hotel de Barral (guided visit only: +33 3 23 53 17 37).

The current Hôtel de Ville (the former palace of the Intendance in the 18th century, neoclassical style), the military arsenal on the abbey site of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (19th century), the covered market (1911) The numerous Art Deco-style dwellings (erected after the First World War) are still necessary points of entry for history and heritage lovers.

As for the contemporary period, the audacious rehabilitation of a barracks (the Gouraud park), the development of the banks of the Aisne (paths) and the Center of Conservation and Archaeological Studies, 'Arsenal (with bay windows to observe exceptional pieces) are finally to be discovered.

For information on tours (guided or free, and sometimes nocturnal and animated in summer) of the architectural and historical heritage, information on +33 3 23 53 17 37.

In a completely different way, to relax in Soissons, small and big can choose the tree climbing (information in +33 6 81 68 89 57) or the swimming pool (basins discovered in summer, information in +33 3 23 53 29 77).

Many excursions (on foot or mountain bike) are finally considerable from the commune. Contact the hotel on +33 3 23 53 17 37.

Places of interest

Information points
Leisure centres
Monuments
Performance halls
Transport

Events and festivities

From early January to mid-February, the Festival des Grands soirs in Saint-Médard offers live theater and theater performances. Information on +33 3 23 53 54 42.

At the beginning of March, the city welcomes the wellness fair (conferences, workshops, cooking classes...) over two days.

In mid-May, the festival V.O. proposes on Soissons and its surroundings shows all public theater, dance, puppets...

The last weekend of April, Soissons hosts the Days of flowers and flavors.

The 3rd weekend of September, the traditional festival of the Haricot program ludic animations, shows, parades and gastronomic animations.

The first weekend of October, Soissons hosts a book fair.

Finally, on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8h to 13h, a market is proposed place Marquigny and the covered market. Information on +33 3 23 59 90 00.

Operation Molière

Photos

Square and portal of the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
Square and portal of the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
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The city
The city
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Tower of the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
Tower of the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
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Portals of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© Jean Espirat)
Portals of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© Jean Espirat)
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Small cloister of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
Small cloister of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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House of the Abbot of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
House of the Abbot of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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Grand Cloister of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
Grand Cloister of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© Jean Espirat)
Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© Jean Espirat)
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Saint-Gervais-and-Saint-Protais Cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
Saint-Gervais-and-Saint-Protais Cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
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Cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
Cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
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Former Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
Former Abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© Jean Espirat)
Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© Jean Espirat)
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Explanations on the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
Explanations on the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
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Arrows of the towers of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
Arrows of the towers of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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Information on Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
Information on Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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Gargoyle of the Great Cloister of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
Gargoyle of the Great Cloister of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes (© J.E)
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Gargoyle of the great cloister (© Jean Espirat)
Gargoyle of the great cloister (© Jean Espirat)
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Gargoyle of the great cloister (© Jean Espirat)
Gargoyle of the great cloister (© Jean Espirat)
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Facade of the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
Facade of the cathedral (© Jean Espirat)
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The vase
The vase
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City Hall
City Hall
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Memorial
Memorial
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The city
The city
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The city
The city
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The city
The city
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The city
The city
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St. Gervais and Holy Protais Cathedral
St. Gervais and Holy Protais Cathedral
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St. Gervais and Holy Protais Cathedral
St. Gervais and Holy Protais Cathedral
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Visits, leisure and activities nearby

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