Ardennes, Shades of Green
Nature and scenery
Situated northeast of Paris near the Belgian border, the French Ardennes can be reached easily by Highway or by the TGV high-speed train. The greatest aspect about the Ardennes is its verdant nature, as it includes the famous Meuse Valley and Semoy Valley. Hikers are often drawn to this area, as they can take the journey from Charleville to Givet. The Ardennes encompasses 5,246 km² of park space.
Heritage and History
The Ardennes, a strategic corridor through which all invasions from the east have come throughout the ages, is a veritable open-air museum. Sites punctuate the key historical periods, such as the Waroux Windmill and the Villy-la-Ferté Fort from the Second World War, the House of the Last Cartridge from 1870 and, of course, the Castle of Sedan. Fortified churches can also be found in the region of the Thiérache Ardennaise. Charleville-Mézières has as its epicenter the delightful square, the Place Ducale, which remains associated with the name of Charles de Gonzague. The Ardennes is filled with not only history, but literature. On October 20th 1854, the famous poet Arthur Rimbaud was born in Charleville. More recently, In the town of Bogny-sur-Meuse, the Museum of Ardennes Metallurgy has opened, dedicated to showcasing fossils and minerals, as well as unveiling the history of iron and ironmakers.
Outdoor Sports and Leisure
Fans of greenery and leisure activities will find exactly what they are looking for in the Ardennes. Whether on foot or bike, the marked footpaths of the Meuse and Semoy valleys, as well as those of the Argonne and Sedan are perfect for anyone looking to embark on a scenic trail. Kayaks and fishing equipment are available to use at recreational parks and lakes all over the Ardennes. More adventurous travellers can go zip-wiring in Fumay, zooming over the Meuse River at the high speed of 60 mph.
Along the Meuse River, between Charleville-Mézières and Givet, is a new Green Trans-Ardennes path, an ancient towpath converted into a trail for pedestrians, horses, cyclists and skaters. On this 83km trail, visitors can discover the beautiful landscapes of the valley where so many legends were born.
Throughout the year, there are countless events that take place in the French Ardennes. One of the largest events is the Medieval Festival, taking place near Europe’s biggest castle in Sedan. In the regional capital of Charleville-Mézières, major festivals include a contemporary music festival called Cabaret Vert, and the World Puppetry Festival, taking place every two years and attracting more than 150,000 visitors over ten days.
Land and gastronomy
The Ardennes, a land profoundly connected to its traditions, is unique because of its gastronomy, especially due to the label, 'Ardennes de France'. The local Red Turkey, a star of the poultry yards of the Ardennes, is considered to be one of the best. Another local product is Rethel's White Sausage, a tasty mix of fresh pork meat, milk and eggs. Ardennes beer is another gastronomic specialty. The best way to discover all the local specialities is to try them at the country markets.
Welcome to the French Ardennes!
- By car:
From PARIS: Autoroute A4 from Paris to Reims, then A34 to Charleville-Mézières.
From LILLE : Autoroute A27 / E42 from Lille direction Brussels (Belgium) via Tournai, Mons, Charleroi. On the Charleroi ring road, follow sign for Philippeville and Reims (N5). Continue via Couvin and Rocroi to Charleville-Mézières.
From LONDON, via Calais: M20 to Folkestone / Channel Tunnel. In France,
From Calais takes the motorway A26 to Reims, and then join the A34 to Charleville-Mézières.
- By train:
Via LILLE: Eurostar from London to Lille-Europe (journey time 1 hr 40), then from Lille-Flandres a minimum of 3 direct trains for Charleville-Mézières.
Via PARIS: Eurostar from London to Paris. 3 direct TGV for Charleville-Mézières and several TGVs for Reims change for Charleville-Mézières.
- Nearest Airports:
Paris (Charles de Gaulle)
24 Place Ducale – BP419
F-08107 Charleville-Mézières cedex
Tél. : 03 24 56 06 08