Bar-le-Duc, prefecture of Meuse, is located 53 kilometres from Verdun and 38 kilometres from Commercy. The River Ornai runs through it, crossed by seven bridges, and so does a parallel artificial canal, the Marne-Rhine canal, which is used for water tourism.
Bar-le-Duc shows the influence of the Renaissance, a prosperous period for the town, when many buildings developed in the upper town and in the lower town, the original settlement in the Gallo-Roman era.
The upper part forms an exceptional architectural ensemble from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, when the nobility came to settle around the castle of the Dukes of Bar. Many mansions made of blond stone have gardens and pretty inner courtyards. The district is traversed by Rue des Ducs de Bar, the former high street or “Grand-Rue” of the upper town.
The beautiful Place Saint-Pierre is occupied by some fine Renaissance houses, including the Florainville mansion, now the Law Courts. A sight to see in the 14th-century Gothic Cathedral of St. Stephen, a listed Historic Monument, is a statue by Ligier Richier named “The Cadaver” (“Le Transi”) or “The Flayed Man” (“l’Écorché”), representing René of Chalon, Prince of Orange, as a skeleton. In the Romanesque Church of Our Lady, there is a figure of Christ on the cross by the same Ligier Richier. The 14th-century Church of St. Anthony in the Bourg district is also a listed Historic Monument.
At the end of Rue des Ducs de Bar is the 12th-century Clocktower, which was part of the old ducal palace; the Gilles de Trèves College, with beautiful stone balustrades, built between 1571 and 1574; and Rue du Bourg, one of the most elegant streets in the town.
The Barrois Museum in the former Dukes’ castle tells the story of the town, with some fine archaeological collections, French and Flemish paintings, and works of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
For a beautiful view over the lower town, head to the Grangettes belvedere.
Located behind the front during the First World War, Bar-le-Duc had a strategic role. Bollard zero on the Sacred Way can be found there.
Bar-le-Duc est is also the land of redcurrants, which produce a succulent jam called “Bar caviar” when the seeds are removed using goose feathers!