Givet (The mild Meuse )
The Meuse twists and turns, crossing the Ardennes massif once more before entering Givet. The valley widens, bathed in light, with the imposing Charlemont Castle towering above it.
A - A “daughter of the Meuse” to be defended Voir sur la carte
Lying in the broad Meuse valley, the small town of Givet has linked its destiny with this river. A commercial waterway, in the Middle Ages the Meuse quickly took on a strategic importance. Whoever held sway over it was master of the economy in northern Europe. So Givet became a fortified town! In 1554, Charles the Fifth had a major fortification built here, Charlemont fort. He defied the hegemony of the King of France, Henri II. In the 18th century the inevitable Vauban, architect of King Louis XIV, came to Givet, which had become French by then, to erect a gigantic defensive system around the town. The fortifications, garrison forts and moats were to surround the town, making it impregnable.
Guided tours of the town and its fortifications provided by the tourist office.
B - Charlemont Fort Voir sur la carte
Overlooking the town, on a steep rocky spur, the imposing Charlemont Fort dominates the landscape. Built on the orders of Charles V, this citadel covers a surface area of 60 hectares, with over 10 kilometres of ramparts, rising 100 metres above Givet.
In addition to its defensive role in time of war, Charlemont Fort was, in the more recent past, as of 1962, used by the military as a commando training centre or CEC. As such, it resumed the traditions of the 9th regiment of Zouaves. The so-called PAR courses included acclimatisation, climbing, escape, urban combat and other challenges.
Following the reorganisation of the National Defence ordered by President Nicolas Sarkozy, the military handed over Charlemont Fort to the municipality in July 2009.
Did you know?
In the 19th century, the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo sealed the fate of Givet. For almost six months, the French general Bourke withstood the assaults of the Prussian troops: Givet was to remain French.
Did you know?
Givet once had six gates, all with a drawbridge and a guardhouse. The Gates of France, Rancennes and Charbonnière are the only ones to have survived to the present day.
C - Walking
Walk. The Mont d’Haurs circuit
There’s nothing quite like climbing to realise the power of the citadel. On the opposite bank, as you ascend the Mont d’Haurs, the bastion is revealed in all its vastness. From the Grégoire Tower, the circuit runs along the perimeter of this camp which could accommodate 20,000 men and over 3,000 horses: beneath their feet, a whole subterranean network was established. Givet was able to withstand any siege at all! These days, it has regained its tranquillity, becoming a nature reserve rich in chalk grassland.
Distance: 4 km
Start: From the Meuse bridge, go to the Grégoire Tower along the quays.
To go further afield
Topo guide, The Ardennes on foot, published by the French Hiking Federation. Walk No 11
Did you know?
Givet was ideally situated on the axis of the Saint-Quentin – Cologne Roman road: a bridge was built across the Meuse from the 12th century. The inhabitants coveted this strategic passing place. Taxes levied on goods in transit enriched the city: markets and three fairs were organised there every year.
D - Meet and savour
Auberge de la Tour
(Ardenne de France label – Master Restaurateur title)
E - Reception and tourist information site
Tourist information point of the Office de Tourisme de Val d’Ardenne Tourisme (Givet branch)
near the Tour Victoire
on the quayside
Tél. : +33 (0)3 24 42 92 42