As soon as you arrive in Montmédy, you are met by the impressive sight of the enormous citadel perched on a hilltop. Montmédy citadel is one of the largest fortresses in North-Eastern France. It was built during the reign of Emperor Charles V in 1545 then altered in the 17th century by Vauban and, in the 19th, by Séré de Rivières, who added a large number of bunkers.
Head across the two drawbridges and through the tunnel and you’ll find yourself in the centre of the citadel, a place for contemplation and dreams of days gone by. Every street and pathway is steeped in history and emotion.
Visit the tourist office and the Fortification Museum (musée de la fortification) which explains systems of defence through the ages and gives a clearer understanding of strategies of attack and defence as well as technical terms such as bastion, half-moon battery, curtain wall, outwork, covered passageway etc. Leave time for a tour of the gallery of works by portrait artist Jules Bastien-Lepage, who was born in Damvillers not far from Montmédy in the 19th century. He also painted landscapes and scenes of country life. A game in the form of a free booklet is available for your children to help them visit the two museums. During the school holidays, arts and crafts workshops and special shows are arranged free of charge for the younger members of the family.
After visiting the museums, take the steps up to the parapet walkway and read our Heritage Walk leaflet as you walk round the walls, admiring the breathtaking panoramic views and finding out about the life of the soldiers and the citadel’s system of defence (artillery bunkers, caponiers, powder magazines etc.).
This, though, is not the end of your visit! In summer, you can take a torchlight tour of the citadel at dusk – the flames alternately reveal and conceal every nook and cranny. And don’t miss the annual Mediaeval Ramparts Festival (Fête Médiéval des Remparts).
Drink in the gently-rolling countryside and enjoy this architectural gem in all its mystery and beauty.