Thanks to the ever-gracious Lyn from Freewheeling France and the French Ardennes Tourism Office I have just returned from my 2nd press trip of the year. This one was to explore a little of the northern department of the Ardennes, but more specifically, the Trans Ardennes Bike Path, which the department has obviously invested a lot of money and time into, hence the willingness to pay for me and my Bianchi to come and pedal up and down it.
My first day was mostly spent on the train, since I live pretty much as far as you can get away from the Ardennes, in northeastern France. I was met at Charleville-Mézières station by Jörg from the tourism office, and we strolled around the town for a bit.
Above is Place Ducal, the main square of Charleville. Does it remind you of anything? Ever been to Paris? Marais? OK, you get no more hints. This square was, according to Jörg, designed by the brother of the architect that made Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square (and tourist hell) in Paris. This one was much more pleasant.
Here is Charles Gonzague himself, an Italian prince who wasn’t satisfied living in cities named after other people I guess, since he built Charleville (later joined with older Mézières) from scratch. A fickle man, Jörg told me that he went back to Italy later and died there. Some people are never satisfied.
After a couple of hours I left Jörg and headed out onto the road. My destination: Sedan. Although technically not part of the Trans Ardennes Bike Path (yet), it is certainly worth the extra 25 km detour. Sedan houses the largest medieval fortress in Europe, which also happened to be my hotel for the night.