The prefecture of Haute-Marne, the town of Chaumont, built in the 10th century on a rocky spur overlooking the Marne and Suize Valleys, has kept a picturesque charm from its medieval days. Lovers of old buildings should take a walk in the historic centre to discover Chaumont’s ancient heritage: a Gothic and Renaissance-style basilica, a keep from the 11th and 12th centuries, the 13th-century Arse Tower, turreted houses with corbels, 15th and 16th-century private mansions and more…
A relic of the castle of the Counts of Champagne, the feudal keep, a square tower standing 19 metres tall, offers a beautiful panoramic view over the Suize Valley from its terrace. The Museum of Art and History, based in the lower rooms of the old castle, displays collections of archaeology (including a bronze breastplate from the 8th century B.C.) and Fine Arts (paintings from the French, Italian, Flemish and Dutch schools; works by the Bouchardon family…).
Another of the town’s flagship monuments, the basilica of St. John the Baptist, dates back to the 13th-16th centuries and is remarkable for its elegant south door, splendid Entombment in polychrome stone dating from 1471, and its sculptures by the Chaumont artist Bouchardon!
To enjoy a beautiful view of the basilica’s towers and the old town’s façades, head to Square Philippe Lebon, in the middle of which stands a stone statue of Philippe Lebon, the inventor of lighting gas.
Also worth seeing is the Crèche Museum, on Rue des Frères Mistarlet, which has collections of old crèches including superb Neapolitan crèches from the 18th century.