DAE-11459936 - © - De Agostini Picture Library
France, Haute-Marne (52), Langres, Maison des Lumières Denis Diderot
Troyes - Court
K50-467832 - © - Henry Beeker
Tracing the steps of illustrious men: Renoir, Diderot, Voltaire, De Gaulle
This 300km tour offers you a 6 day cultural getaway in Champagne-Ardenne. Tracing the footsteps of illustrious men, this journey from Langres to Troyes will allow you to discover where Voltaire lived, where Renoir spent his summers, where Diderot was born, as well as where General de Gaulle stayed in the charming town of Colombes-les-Deux-églises.
6 days on the most beautiful routes of Champagne to discover the regional built heritage. Ideal with friends or family.
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Your tour begins in Langres where you will spend your first day. Preserved from the wars, the centre, where Diderot was born, unfolds its winding streets and passages lined with limestone buildings.
Start with the 4km circuit of the ramparts and leave from the Place des Etats-Unis on the south side to reach the old town. You can visit the Cathedral of Saint-Mammès, the Museum of Art and History Guy Baillet and the Maison des Lumières Denis-Diderot. The latter occupies the beautiful hotel Du Breuil de St-Germain and tells of the life and work of the writer through an extremely well thought out course.
MyTripTailor tip: Useful! There are 200 free parking spaces outside the ramparts to the east of the city.
Leaving Langres, you are now heading for Joinville. Early in the day, go and explore Le Vallage, the name given to the land that stretches around Joinville and so named because of its many valleys which, near the Lorraine, host forging sites. The route takes you through villages marked by their former industrial activity, but part of a completely preserved natural environment such as Osne-le-Val, Poissons ou Saint-Urbain.
Your senses will be awoken in Thonnance-lès-Joinville. The Les Jardins de mon moulin, classified as “remarkable gardens” reveal their wonders at the edge of a water mill.
It’s now time to head to Joinville to visit its magnificent Château du Grand Jardin, Notre-Dame church and apothecary.
MyTripTailor tip: 4kms after Thonnance, turn right into the small road in the woods to discover the winding roads of Mélaire and beautiful views of the surrounding forest.
Waking up in the pretty town of Joinville, head in the direction of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises for about 50 kms.
Your first stop is Cirey-sur-Blaise. Dominated by the castle where Voltaire lived, the village occupies a pleasant site in the valley.
Enter the castle through a carved door designed by Voltaire and be sure not to miss the small attic theatre, restored with touching simplicity, where Voltaire would rehearse his plays.
Surrounded by beautiful countryside, Colombey is dominated by an imposing Cross of Lorraine in pink granite, visible for miles, in memory of Charles de Gaulle. The village owes its notoriety to the general, who would come to the area to stay in his property in La Boisserie. The Charles de Gaulle memorial and its remarkable setting should be your first port of call.
MyTripTailor tip: After visiting Château de Cirey, why not head the opposite way to St-Dizier or go up the valley and continue towards Chaumont.
Before leaving Columbey, and time permitting, visit La Boisserie, the House of General de Gaulle, before hitting the road for sixty kilometres.
Your first stop is Bar-sur-Aube. Allow a good hour to visit the centre and its two churches: Saint-Pierre and Saint-Maclou.
Then can then follow one of the Champagne tourist routes in the Côte des Bar region to Bayel, famous for its crystal museum.
At two kilometres, is a hotbed of religious history and spirituality: The Abbey de Clairvaux. The guided visit lasts 1h30 and includes the Bâtiment des Convers, the Grand cloister, and the Hostellerie des Dames.
Finally, head to Essoyes where will spend the night.
MyTripTailor tip: If you’re travelling with children, consider Nigloland Park – they’ll be delighted!
It was in this corner of the countryside that Renoir came to spend his summers. Here, you can discover Renoir’s region, his studio and his house.
It’s now time to take to the road to your last destination: Troyes with a stop-off in Brienne-la-Vieille which was once the leading timber rafting port supplying Paris.
The EcoMuseum of the Forêt d’Orient is well worth a visit. Allow 1h30 if you opt for the guided tour. Head next to the Napoleon Museum in Brienne-le-Château. On view in the ancient Chapelle des Carmélites are the treasures of the churches of the communes of the Forêt d’Orient and its region: sculptures, paintings, religious silverware including around fifty sacred vases.
Head now to Troyes for the last night of this tour.
MyTripTailor tip: Located next to the vineyards that dominate the city, don’t miss the arboretum and its giant sequoia.
Your last day is spent in the charming town of Troyes. Its historic centre, the famous “Champagne cork”, is full of timber-framed houses and medieval lanes, some so narrow that you can pass objects from one house to another, such as the ruelle des Chats.
Begin your visit with Sainte-Madeleine Church, the oldest in Troyes and follow this with a visit to the Museum of Vauluisant, built in the 16th century and housing two museums: the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Bonneterie (‘Hosiery’).
If you have a little time left, don’t miss the chance to go and admire the cathedral, remarkable for its size, the richness of its décor and the beauty of its nave.
MyTripTailor tip: For a shopping break, why not consider the factory outlets, heirs to an enduring hosier tradition.
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