Roche (In the footsteps of Rimbaud )
A - Rimbaud to Roche Voir sur la carte
Thirsting for infinity
“This French countryside is awful! My fate depends on this book, for which half a dozen atrocious stories still have to be invented. How can atrocities be invented here?”… And yet, it was at his mother’s family farm that Rimbaud was to write one of his greatest works. Walking around Roche, you can imagine the poet in the loft of the barn, completing ‘A Season in Hell’. This masterpiece harbours both a total rejection of his past and a need for a passionate life, for an immediate life. This poem is also an adieu. Rimbaud discovers that the western world is closed. Once it had been published, Arthur left for the East, in search of absolute purity. He was to lead the life of an adventurer there.
Did you know?
Nothing remains of the Cuif family home but a wall. Where the loft once stood, there is now a commemorative stele of Rimbaud.
B - Walking Voir sur la carte
In the footsteps of Rimbaud
“How could he have returned here time and time again, to rejoin family figures so stubbornly?” (Julien Gracq)
The peaceful countryside around Roche was above all a place of inspiration for Rimbaud. Let us follow in the poet’s footsteps, walking along these paths beneath a blue sky. Quiet countryside, where the pace is set by the work of the soil, as the seasons pass. But it was too quiet for Arthur. He tried to flee, avoiding manual work so as not to take root. His escape, his freedom, was to write.
A waymarked road runs through the countryside around Roche, passing where the poet ‘with soles of wind’ once trod these paths. The seven-kilometre route, enhanced by five sculptures representing his poem ‘Vowels’, goes past Vonq station, Méry chapel and the wash house.
Distance: 7 km
Waymarking: brown, walk No 34
Time: 1.30 h
Start: the wash house in Roche
To go further afield…
Topo guide: ‘Walks along the ridges’ available from tourist offices and bookshops. Circuit available for downloading on www.rando-cretes.fr.
C - The railway station Voir sur la carte
At the end of the 19th century, progress reached the French countryside with the arrival of the railway. For Rimbaud, this was to mean escape, hope, when it took him to the sun of Africa. And a long, hard path when he set off, with a purulent stump, towards death in the hospital in Marseille, on 10 November 1891.
During the season, a tourist train drawn by a Picasso rail car, will carry you along this line between Vouziers and Amagne.
D - Walking Voir sur la carte
Walking. The path of poets
Look out over the Aisne valley, a source of inspiration for several renowned writers. Go passed the house of André Dhôtel in the village of Mont-de-Jeux and be carried away by the beauty of this valley.
Distance: 6 km
Waymarking: green, walk No 32
Time: 1.30 h
Start: near Semuy church
To go further afield…
Topo guide ‘Walks along the ridges’ available in tourist offices and bookshops. Circuit available for downloading on www.rando-cretes.fr.
E - St Maurille’s Church and its Renaissance façade Voir sur la carte
A surprising church, thanks to its magnificent Renaissance gate with three porches, designed by the Champagne architect Jehan Laurens. The work was undertaken in 1517 following a period of prosperity, given the wish to build a big, beautiful church in Vouziers. But after the religious wars of the 16th century, the project was not completed. It was not until the 18th century that the gate was connected to the existing Gothic church, giving it its current atypical appearance.
Open all year round from Monday to Saturday – Tel. 03 24 71 97 57.