Monday, June 04, 2007

Charleville, France

More accurately, Charleville is now named Charleville-Mézières after half-a-dozen local communities, including Mézières, were rolled together in the mid-nineties to form the present 100,000 plus urban area. The actual city Charleville was built between 1606 and 1627 under the direction of Charles de Gonzague, the local head honcho, and was the manifestation of his Utopian vision of the future. At that time, the River Meuse that runs through town, served as the border with Germany making the area of significant commercial importance. Since then, Germany has "moved away", so to speak, and is currently separated from Charleville by, among other things, miles of French territory and the country of Belgium. The Place Ducale (Ducal Square) is a major feature of the town which is otherwise famous as a world center for marionettes and the birthplace of the French poet and celebrated shirt-lifter, Arthur Rimbaud. The Institute of Marionettes is actually in Place Winston Churchill and sports an entertaining clock that puts on a different automated puppet show on the hour, every hour from 10 am until 9 pm. A jolly place for an impromptu overnight stay.

The Ducal Square is HUGE, well kept, symmetrical
and hosts a market every Saturday

Pleasant arcades run along the front of the building facing the square

Clock tower from an arcade

This is Charles de Gonzague (actually, it's a statue of him)

The fanciful Town Hall

A detail of the Town Hall

War Memorial to French dead in Place Winston Churchill

Another massive church near the Town Hall

Interior of church

Ferry across the Meuse from the campground

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