The capital of the Ardennes department, Charleville-Mézières (pop. 52,700) spans across either side of the Meuse riverbanks. The current city was formed in 1966 by combining the formerly separate communes of Charleville and Meziers. However, these communes have retained their distinct identity despite the merger. Charleville retains its sleek 17th century layout (which was conceptualized by the Franco-Italian Prince Charles of Gonzaga, duke of Nevers), while Mézières preserves its raw beauty with its imposing medieval ramparts and towers. (The name Mézières comes from the Latin term maceriae, meaning ramparts).

Charleville was once home to the poet Arthur Rimbaud, to whom a museum has been dedicated. Musee de Rimbaud [Quai Arthur Rimbaud, +33 324324465 ad/ch €4/Free] is housed in an old mill, exhibiting the poet’s personal belongings, portraits and letters. Rimbaud spent most of his childhood and adolescence years here before leaving for Paris. He was eventually buried in the city cemetery upon his death in 1891.

The Musée de l'Ardenne [+33 324424460 ad/ch €4/Free] also stands in this part the city.  The museum is located in the beautiful Place Ducal that is home to a string of stunning 17th century buildings. Inside, the museum houses various artefacts that date back to the Roman and Merovingian era. 

Charleville-Mézières also became well known for the art of puppeteering in the 20th century. Today, the city hosts the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes once every two years, in the month of September. This quirky, colourful affair brings international attention to the otherwise, quiet city.




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CHARLEVILLE-MÉZIÈRES1. Hôtel de Ville  2. Railway station  3. Tourism office (adjacent Place Ducale)  4. Musée de l'Ardenne  5. Musée de Rimbaud