Have you ever visited a town or city and left unimpressed with what you have seen?
This occurred on my first visit to Charleville-Mezieres. In fairness it was raining, the Aire I had parked on did not provide access to electric hook up (the campsite from which racelets are purchased was closed) and I was tired after a hectic few days. All in all, not the best time to be objective.
I have never been so happy to be wrong, my second visit to Charleville-Mezieres, the following day was an eye opener. Charleville-Mezieres sits on the Meuse river and became into being in 1966, when the towns Charleville and Mezieres were combined.
Mezieres began in the 10th century, when a wooden castle was built on a bend in the Meuse. It was economically prosperous until the 16th century, in part, because it was on the route between Reims and Cologne.
It was at this time that work started on the gothic styled Basilica Notre-Dame d’Espérance, which incidentally was where King Charles IX was married. It was to take more than 100 years to complete. The stained glass windows were created by René Dürrbach, a reputed friend of Picasso. When visiting the church, be sure to go on a day when the sun is shining through the windows, you will not be disappointed if you venture inside.
Mezieres is the medieval part of the town, the town hall which was initially built in the 17th century, was rebuilt in 1933 after being destroyed in the first world war.
Charleville is a later addition, when in the 17th century, an Italian prince, Charles de Gonzague, Compte de Rethel built a new town and give it his name. The Place Ducale dominates the centre and is a fine example of the baroque style architecture seen within the town, inspired by the Place des Voges in Paris.
I stayed at Camping La Murée, which on first impressions did not add up to much. I could not get hot water from the shower, the bar was closed and never appeared to open, it was situation miles from anywhere. However, some places just demand your affection and this was no different. It has a tranquility that is louder than the singing birds, an indifference to any opinion that is first formed. If a certain beer manufacturer made campsites, surely this would be one of them.