Langres does not always enjoy the reputation it deserves. And that’s a shame. Located at the crossing of the A5 and the A31 highways, those who live in the North frequently see its name on the motorway signs en route to the South with their caravan or campervan. But we rarely take the time to stop there. However, this beautiful fortified city, which stands on top of a hill in the heart of the 4 Lakes region, is well worth a visit. So be sure to discover it during your next CAMPING HOLIDAY IN CHAMPAGNE.
Langres, a beautiful walled city
Langres deserves above all to be visited for its ramparts. This city is indeed a real fortress built on top of a hill. The numbers speak for themselves: 12 towers, 7 gates and 3.5 kilometers of ramparts! To enter the old town, you have to pass through one of these gates. The most emblematic is the PORTE DES MOULINS (windmills’ gate) built in the 17th century. However, before you set out to explore the historic heart of Langres, we advise you to start your visit with the promenade of the ramparts. This stroll follows the old wall walk. It offers superb panoramas on the surrounding countryside with views of the nearby Liez lake, as far as the Vosges and The Jura further away. During your walk, you will discover the history of the fortifications of Langres from the 100-year War to the 19th century. The style of the doors and towers changes according to the time of their construction. The NAVARRE TOWER,for example, massive with its diameter of 28 meters, evokes the Middle Ages while the “Tour Piquante” is Renaissance-inspired. Some of the 12 towers of the Langres fortifications are worth a visit, especially to admire their beautiful vaults such as the Market Tower, the Tower of Navarre or the Tower of Orval. The most recent addition to the Langres ramparts is the rack railway. In 1858, the creation of a railway line between Paris and Mulhouse allowed Langres to set up a train station. However, it could not be installed at the top of the hill. It was therefore built in the Marne Valley. A RACK RAILWAY was therefore built to connect the city and the station. This train was the first of its kind in France. It rose 132 meters along its 1500 meters of track. It ceased to operate in 1971. However, it is still visible.
Small tourist train from Langres
During your camping holiday in Langres, you can choose to follow the path of ramparts on foot or by small train. During the tourist season (Easter to September) A TOURIST TRAIN offers several times a day tours in Langres. This train follows the round path of the ramparts before taking you to the old town. A 50-minutes tour that will take you to the iconic sites of the historic heart of Langres.
The old town of Langres
To start your walk in the old Langres, nothing beats the CATHEDRALE SAINT MAMMES, medieval jewel of the 12th century. It dominates what was in the Middle Ages a religious quarter when Langres was the seat of a bishop’s office. Around a tree-lined square you will find the cathedral, but also the Saint Laurent Hospital, the cloister and the old canonical houses (where the canons lived). These are among the most beautiful mansions in Langres.
St. Mammès Cathedral in Langres was the last building inspired by the Romanesque abbey of Cluny. It mixes Romanesque influences with the very first Gothic innovations. Take the time to climb to the top of the Cathedral’s South Tower. Of course, you have to face the 227 steps of its spiral staircase, but once at the top you will enjoy a beautiful view of Langres and its surroundings as well as the beautiful glazed tile roof of the cathedral.
Langres, in the footsteps of Diderot
Langres’ best-known personality is undoubtedly DENIS DIDEROT. This writer and father of the Encyclopedia is one of the great figures of Enlightenment thought. He was born in Langres on the square renamed Diderot Square. In 2013, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Diderot’s birth, theDENIS DIDEROT HOUSE OF ENLIGHTMENTSwas inaugurated. This museum is dedicated to the writer. Set in an elegant mansion, this museum offers a tour of paintings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean Simeon Chardin or Gabriel François Doyen as well as sculptures by Auguste Bartholdi or Antoine Besançon. Along the way, you will discover original editions of the Encyclopedias as well as scientific instruments from the 18th century.
After visiting the House of Lights Denis Diderot, you can walk in the footsteps of the father of the Encyclopedia. In old Langres, several sites have been marked by Diderot’s footprint. Notably his birthplace or the former Jesuit college. In the square that now bears his name stands a statue of the writer by Auguste Bartholdi.
Langres tours for all tastes and ages
During your camping holiday in Langres, you can choose to visit the city with your family. Several visits were indeed thought for the children. A visit with the Little Detective is planned for 6-12 year olds. Children will have to find mysterious animals escaped from the zoo as you visit Langres. Throughout the month of August, on the occasion of the “Estival des Hallebardiers” ( a medieval festival ), the hallebardiers troupe offers you a stroll through Langres.
In addition to these thematic and fun tours, Langres offers more “classical” tours with guide or audio-guide or accompanied by digital applications. For more information on these different possibilities of visiting Langres you can visit the website of thetourist office of Langres.