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 - The Meuse valley Voir sur la carte
Leaving, leaving, leaving Charleville, this is what the young Rimbaud wanted. In 1863, the railway crossed the steep-sided Meuse valley: it went where the Industrial Revolution was unfolding, to Revin, Fumay and Givet. Rimbaud jumped on the train and into progress. He was to see this fabulous machine pass beneath the mountain of the Four Sons of Aymon and cross the Meuse over huge viaducts.
These days, it is possible to cycle from Charleville to Givet along one of the loveliest green paths of Europe (open to non-motorised vehicles). You can return by train, if you wish, along this same line that carried Rimbaud towards his dreams of escape. Bicycles can be taken on the trains free of charge.
B - 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.
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