The city of Chaumont is on a plateau above the River Marne and is a great place to stop off if you’re travelling from Calais to the Alps.
Boasting a population of over 23k, part of the Haute-Marne department, it sits on a railway line that links Paris and Basel, Switzerland, over an impressive viaduct that draws tourists from far afield. And, there’s plenty to do and see here…
Visit Chaumont’s impressive Viaduct
At 52 metres tall and 600 metres long, you can’t miss the striking stone viaduct which dates back over 160 years. This popular tourist attraction was built in the mid-1850s to link the capital Paris to the city Basel – on the River Rhine where the Swiss, French and German borders meet – and boasts 50 impressive arches, stacked three on top of each other up to 50 metres high.
Described as one of the most remarkable bridges built in the second half of the 19th Century in Europe, it’s not only a sight to behold in its own right, but it also offers a fantastic view of the picturesque Suize valley. There’s more on this top tourist attraction here.
Square Phillippe Lebon
Just a stone’s throw from the Hotel Les Remparts – you can park up in the street just outside the hotel – you’ll find yourself in the small but beautiful Square Phillippe Lebon. Featuring a stone statue of gas lighting inventor Phillippe Lebon, it rewards those who stop off to visit with a stunning view over the surrounding countryside, and it also boasts a children’s playground.
Basilique St Jean The Baptist
As you stroll around the oldest part of Chaumont be sure to take in this Gothic basilica with its two towers that peak over surrounding buildings. This Roman Catholic church, which is classified as an historical monument, dates back to the 13th Century. Featuring modern stained glass and several art works, just one of many highlights if you step inside the church is a “remarkable example” of a Jesse tree dating back to the 15th century. Made of limestone this Christian motif is over four metres high and it sits on a three-metre wide base.
Where to eat
Restaurant Des Remparts on Rue de Verdun, next to Square Phillippe Lebon, is a great place for both evening meals and breakfast. You can choose from one, two or three course meals in the evening, with starter and desert in buffet format. Everything was either fresh or cooked beautifully and the service is impeccable. There is also a delicious, freshly made or baked choice at breakfast.
Close to Chaumont is Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises and La Boisserie, the former home of General de Gaulle, President of France. You can also visit the Charles de Gaulle Memorial Centre which is a fascinating presentation of the life and times of de Gaulle. It’s packed full of artefacts from the car in which he was travelling when an assassination attempt was made on his life to furniture and fashions of the mid 20th century.
Where to stay
A great place to stay in Chaumont is at Hotel Les Remparts, on Rue de Verdun via a beautiful wooden door. Comfy, peaceful rooms provide a very pleasant mid-way stop on the nine-hour journey from Calais to the Alps. The lovely hotel has the added bonus of having its own restaurant so there’s no need to worry about finding somewhere separate to eat nearby. You can book here
Find out more about Chaumont: tourism-chaumont-champagne.com
Justine Halifax is a multi award-winning writer and has worked as a journalist and feature writer for the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury.