Archive for the ‘General France’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Visiting Champagne – Monthermé

So, here you are in Champagne, traversing the forests of Ardenne and exploring the Meuse to visit Monthermé. I subconsciously had the feeling that Monthermé had something to do with thermal springs, because of its name. But it does not always work that way in France! Also, I made a mistake here, referring to the people here as Monthermois. Mais non, they are proud to be called Baraquins because their ancestors lived in wooden barracks.



So am I going to see any of these ancient barracks here? Not exactly, but like any other ancient town I am going to see a number of old ruins and historical churches- Saint-Léger, a 12th century treasure- and abbeys -Laval Dieu -here. The jury is still out on the origin of this market town’s name – was it named after the fifth century Bishop, Ermel, or a pile of rocks (hermés) or the Celtic word for a forest area (hermé?) Who cares, but it was under the care of the ancient ruling Houses of Burgundy, Guise and Conti before it was ceded in 1629 to Louis XIII. In 1749, the first glass works were set up here, the which are still a major industry of this town, along with metal foundries. So, naturally, you are going to be buying artistic glass treasures.

The Saint-Léger church was rebuilt in 1445, after having served the parish of Monthermé for around 200 years, after some mercenaries calling themselves “the Torchers”pillaged and destroyed it. Talk about their not being worried about hellfire and damnation, one of the bugaboos of Medieval times! But then this church had to face many difficult times , thanks to future frequent and periodic religious wars. One is grateful that the relatively civilized society of today does not say, “hey, let us go destroy a historic Monument, because we are in the mood to sack its priceless heritage…” So, you are going to see the 16 century frescoes and the marble altar built by François Feuillat, in 1783.

The Laval Dieu Abbey goes back to 1128. But you can only see the 18th century paneling and part of an organ, here today. Many of the historical buildings and gardens were destroyed during the Second World War, so you can see the ruins. You can also go trekking here, if you want to explore the area around the river Meuse. So, enjoy your visit to Monthermé, Champagne!