In the 10th century, a castle and fortified citadel were built to defend the County of Bar against the Kingdom of France. Despite the fortress being demolished in 1670, and the damage during the French Revolution, some vestiges of the fortifications are still visible: the Porte Romane (the Romanesque Gate) and the Clock Tower.
Besides these few remains from the Middle Ages, the Upper Town is best known for its 16th-century Renaissance heritage. From a political and cultural point of view, this was the most prosperous period for the town. Magnificent freestone dwellings and residences line up for the visitor to see, in a protected, listed urban group.
Particularly worthy of note are the architectural riches of the Place Saint-Pierre, with the Eglise Saint-Etienne (St Stephen's Church) which houses Ligier Richier's famous "Transi", as well as the façades of the Rue des Ducs. Further down, the Castle Esplanade leads to a building constructed in 1563 at the request of the Duke of Lorraine and Bar, Charles III, for his own residence, now the Musée Barrois (Barrois area Museum).
Under the vertical sweep of the esplanade stands the Collège Gilles de Trêves, described by Montaigne as "the most beautiful town house in France". It was Gilles de Trêves himself who had the college built, to provide education for the children of the town. During the 17th century, Oudinot and Exelmans, future Marshals of the French Empire, passed through this institution.
As for the Lower Town, this enjoyed a real economic development from the middle of the 19th century, with the building of the Paris-Strasbourg railway and the canal from the Marne to the Rhine. The textile, metal-working and brewing industries were then the main activities in these quarters.
Bar-le-Duc is also the home town of Bergère de France knitting wool. This family company is one of the largest and most competitive spinning mills in Europe. There are visits to the factory.
Every year at the beginning of July, do not miss the "Festival RenaissanceS", which is a brilliant festival of street entertainment.
For further information, contact the Tourist Office at Bar-le-Duc.
The Saulx Valley, Valley of the Renaissance
The Renaissance style of the chateaux of Gilles de Trêves at Ville-sur-Saulx and La Varenne at Haironville appears in all its glory, while at Nettancourt, the Château de la Grange aux Champs is notable for its landscaped park and its curious rocky grotto.
Ligny-en-Barrois, town of the Dukes of Luxembourg
Gateway to the Barrois area, Ligny-en-Barrois reveals its amazing history, which made it an enclave of the Duchy of Luxembourg. At the end of the 19th century, Ligny became one of the most industrialised towns in the département, with breweries, factories making furniture, shoes, clothes and jam, and especially firms making precision instruments and optical apparatus.
Ligny-en-Barrois has a "Village étape" label (member of a network of villages with tourist facilities).
The Tourist Office at Ligny-en-Barrois is at your disposal for any further information that you might require.