The department of Meuse, in the region of Lorraine, boasts twenty centuries of history, illustrated by a cultural heritage that is worth a detour, such as Bar-le-Duc, with its old town (Ville Haute) and Renaissance quarter. There’s also Montmédy with its fortifications, Marville with its Spanish renaissance feel, and don't forget the chateau of Commercy, the summer residence of King Stanislas (father-in-law of Louis XV of France).
Located between the Germanic Empire and France, the Meuse area has been closely linked to French history for centuries. In 843, the Treaty of Verdun made official the breakup of Charlemagne’s empire, the saga of Joan of Arc began in Vaucouleurs, and when fleeing the French Revolution, Louis XVI was arrested in Varennes-en-Argonne. Plus the Battle of Verdun was one of the bloodiest struggles during World War I.
Indeed, in the French collective memory, the Meuse is a land soaked in red, a dreaded battlefield where a major page of European history was written. At Verdun, the recollection of soldiers and their sufferings is ever present.
But the Meuse is also home to varied landscapes ranging from the lake-studded plain of Woëvre, to the deep forests of Argonne. There, the charming valleys of Saulx and Ornain alternate with the majestic heights of Montmédy and Hattonchâtel in Côtes de Meuse.
With its natural environment, the Meuse offers a perfect setting for sports of all kinds. The lake of Madine, the largest leisure-activity centre in Lorraine, has already played host to a stage of the Tour de France.
Finally, the Meuse always offers a warm and simple welcome from a population whose sole purpose is to share their love of the land, and their delicious gastronomy. Simply listing the local specialities evokes the area’s creative tastes. Indeed, the pastry known as a madeleine was inspired by Marcel Proust, while Verdun’s sugared almonds (dragées de Verdun) were the delight of Colbert (Louis XIV’s chief minister), and Alfred Hitchcock was a fan of the local jam (confiture de groseilles) made from red-currents, whose seeds are removed one by one with a goose quill (épépinées à la plume d’oie)!
Camping cars and caravans are welcome in the Meuse. There are special maps indicating the authorised parking and service areas.