- Troyes Champagne Métropole conceals many charms and tourist assets with an exceptional heritage, a preserved nature and a thousand and one activities and discoveries!
- Points of interest
It was at the end of the 11th century, when the tomb of Christ had fallen into the hands of the Turks. A first crusade was organised to reopen the road to Jerusalem to gain access to the tomb. That is when Hugues de Payns decided to move permanently to the Orient, to lead a troupe of knights whose mission was to protect the pilgrims. In 1120, supported by King Baldwin II, he created the Poor Knights of Christ militia, which was later renamed the Knights Templar, otherwise known as the Order of Solomon’s Temple. Made official in 1129 by the Council of Troyes, the order also received its statutes, influenced by Bernard de Clairvauw.
In 1998, archaeological excavations were carried out on the site of Hugues de Payns’ command headquarters. The foundations of a chapel and farm building were discovered, as well as fragments of small columns and tiles. But the most exciting find was a monetary treasure - 708 deniers dating back to the 13th century!
Visit the Hugues de Payns and Templiers museums in the centre of the village, and discover or rediscover the history of the Knights Templar.
The town of Payns is proud of its history, and not only the Knights Templar episode. This is demonstrated by the Poilu soldier war memorial, commemorating France’s First World War victims who died for their country between 1914 and 1918, and the stele in remembrance of the four French patriots executed on the 22nd of August 1944.
And don’t miss the church of the Assumption of our Lady where the nave, transept and steeple tower are all reminders of the flamboyant Gothic style. The Virgin and child and the Pietà date back to the 16th century, and are listed historical monuments.
For example, the Montgueux castle, built in 1512 and destroyed in the Revolution, and the 16th-century church of the Exaltation de la Sainte Croix have fuelled many popular fables. The church, with magnificent 16th-century stained-glass windows is a listed historical monument, due in part to the crosses engraved on the walls...
The most memorable of all the legends is about Mont Chirac:
In medieval times a fortified castle overlooked Mont Chirac. It was home to a baron who lived there in austere solitude with his daughter, Clotilde. But Clotilde was already an emancipated child. Unbeknownst to her father, she was going out disguised as a shepherdess to spend time with Thibault, Count of Champagne. Then one Christmas eve they disappeared into the night together. The next year, just before Christmas, a terrible fire burned the castle down. The Bishop of Troyes was called to exorcise the haunted site. The next day, an enormous dragon came out of the ruins of the castle which immediately fell into the Trou de Chirac. Only one stone remained, bearing the inscription: « Passants, faites une prière pour la pauvre Clotilde ». “Passers-by, say a prayer for poor Clotilde.”
And rumour also has it that the township has a hidden treasure! In days gone by, somewhere between Montgueux and La Grange-au-Rez, was the Convent of Sainte Croix. In the 15th century, seeing pillagers approaching, the monks living there hid their treasure and it has never been found...
Most famous for its 186 hectares of vines with the Champagne appellation, Montgueux has been known for many years as Champagne’s “Montrachet”. And did you know that the wine produced in Japan is from Montgueux? That’s right! That’s where Charles Baltet, a famous nursery gardener from Troyes chose to experiment. In the 19th century he introduced two Japanese men to the art of the vine, and in 1876 they created Yamanashi vineyard. The vineyard now produces half of the archipelago’s wine!
Let’s start with Fontvannes: in 1019 the township was called Fons Vennae. It was home to Vanne’s biggest spring, and
had a was a covered washhouse, the lavoir-halle. Recently restored, the washhouse has wooden beams which recall the famous timber-framed houses in Troyes.
The Saint Alban church has a stunning clear view over the hills of Pays d’Othe. The wooden altarpiece, where the Last Judgement is depicted, is the only one of its kind in the area. Fontvannes is also home to several Paleolithic and Neolithic archaeological sites!
There is nothing left of Saint Liébaut castle, but Domaine du Moulin d’Eguebaude is open to visitors.
Visit the “open-cage” washhouse or à cage ouverte, adjoining place Caroline. Built in brick by the Vanne river, the architecture is both aesthetic and practical.
Finally, according to recent historical and archaeological research, the famous Battle of the Catalaunian Plains when the Huns were beaten in 451, took place around Estissac.
The church of the Assumption was built in the 1750s on the remnants of two churches, destroyed in turn in 1705 and 1749. Despite having been built in the 18th century, the architecture combines details of Baroque and Grecian-Roman antiquity styles, such as the pilasters and pediments around the front portal. The church and a collection of about two dozen objects are listed as historical monuments; these include an 18-century main altar in red and grey marble and painted wood panels.
A local anecdote: it was in Vauchassis in 1815 that a priest concocted an infusion based on “sugar and good wine”. He dispensed it to ill people who came to see him. They came from all over Champagne to try his concoction. This energising remedy is still used in the village today. In fact, the Troyes library has two manuscripts of his medical recipes which treated asthma, coughs, daily fevers, not to mention snake bites and tapeworm!
Mandrel Nicolas is an important name for the town, as he was elected Deputy in 1906, but more importantly because he founded the library, La Bibliothèque Démocratique et Populaire, in 1879.
Near the town hall you will find the church of Saint-Pierre-ès-Liens which dates back to the 16th century. It is home to several listed elements, such as the flamboyant southern portal, a Pietà and many sculptures of saints from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
Two war memorials commemorate the victims of the two World Wars in the village. The monument to the Second World War is a pedestal and fluted column, crowned with the Lorraine Cross. There is a sculpture of four men with thin torsos. Their hands tied behind their back, they stand to face their dreaded fate.
Nearby, the township of Souligny is located at the foot of the Montaigu site, with the old Montaigu castle. It is said that Saint Loup used the castle as a refuge to protect the population dispersed by the passage of Attila in 451 and partially decimated by the epidemics that followed. Some even think it was the first home to the long-haired Gallic tribe, the Tricasses who established the town of Troyes. Montaigu castle was the subject of many quarrels between Armagnacs and Bourguignons until its destruction was ordered in 1420, after the Treaty of Troyes. The site has been rehabilitated and is open to visitors. It is said that a secret subterranean tunnel links it with the Troyes cathedral!
In the centre of the village you can visit a museum with a very original name: the Musée du Passé Simple - the museum of the simple past. The exhibition features tools and utensils from bygone days which recall daily life and customs. Thanks to these collections which are regularly updated, the museum attempts to revive memories of a not-so-distant past.
Just 200 metres away, in Ruelle de l’Etang, there is an 1850s washhouse. A brick construction with openings for ventilation, it is in line with the hygiene principals of the period. It is also a reminder of the daily life of the population of Crésantignes.
Saint-Sébastien church nearby, built in 1780, is a typical example of 18th-century construction. Certain elements of the rich collection of furnishings are listed. In particular, the polychrome limestone altarpiece featuring the Passion of Christ. Amongst the other listed elements, stop to admire the sculptures of saints, a lectern crowned with an eagle, or the Madonna and child in golden white marble.
On each side of the church, there are two black marble plaques in commemoration of the two World Wars which pay tribute to the victims.
The name Lirey is often associated with the story about Saint-Suaire: the shroud in which Christ was wrapped, leaving the imprint of the image of a crucified man. It was conserved in this town between 1353 and 1418. The Lirey collegiate church was built in 1356 to preserve it. It was demolished during the Revolution and most of its furnishings were displaced to other places of worship and museums; such as the altars, now conserved in the London Victoria and Albert Museum. The current church, built between 1870 and 1880, is dedicated to the Annunciation of our Lady.
To the east of the village, in the street of the same name, rue du Lavoir, there is a washhouse with openwork beams. You can just catch a glimpse of the basin used by the washing women from the second part of the 19th century to the second part of the 20th century.
In the centre of the village is the Saint-Pouange church, rebuilt to restore it to its original state. The apse dates back to the 12th century, the vault and a window to the 15th...and the building was overhauled in 1854! Some of the sculptures in the collection are listed: the polychrome limestone Madonna and child, or the limestone Saint Sébastien which is suspected to be the work of the atelier of Maître de Chaource. The glass work of Saint-Pouange church dates back to the 16th century, and is also listed.
In front of the church is an obelisk on a base, decorated with the Palm of Victory, to commemorate the heroic French victims of the First World War.
Isle-Aumont is particularly renowned for its hillock which bears the scars of the centuries.
In the 5th century, during the Merovingian dynasty, it was the site for one of the first Gallic monastic constructions.
A castle was built there in the 11th and 12th centuries: Domaine des Comtes de Champagne. In the church dedicated to Saint Pierre, you can catch a glimpse of the Carolingian sanctuary below the choir, and two naves - one Benedictine, the other Gothic. During the 1960s, a necropolis containing a thousand graves was discovered by Jean Scapula, a local archaeologist.
With such a collection of listed elements, the hillock is a museum in itself.
Saint-Parres-au-Tertres commemorates the two World Wars. The monument paying tribute to the First World War was next to the town hall. Destroyed during the Second World War, it was rebuilt in 1950.
And don’t miss the church of Saint-Pierre - a hall church! Listed as a historical monument, it is typical of local construction, with the naves and side aisles of the same height and width. With five traverses, it is one of the most extended churches. The flamboyant southern portal has a glass tympanum, and the 16th-century stained-glass windows are also worth a visit!
In 2014, it was at the centre of national - even international - attention! Archaeological digs revealed a princely tomb dating back to the 5th century. It is located in the heart of a necropolis, created 14th centuries before our time. The deceased, lying on a chariot, was buried in a monumental tomb in a funeral chamber. Many objects( were found with the deceased: gold bracelets, a bronze cauldron, an Attic ceramic piece and many other treasures. Unfortunately, these objects are not yet exhibited, but it is a major archaeological discovery, making Lavau a remarkable historical site.
It was the morning of the 24th of August 1944. A group of Resistance fighters decided to attack an approaching side-car and truck of German soldiers. One of the German soldiers in the truck managed to escape, and informed his superiors who were based in the Troyes secondary school. The reprisal was rapid: at around 11.00am, 300 German soldiers turned out to take on 50 Resistance fighters. The enemy infiltrated from every direction and took position. Given the numbers, the Resistance fighters gave in. The battle lasted 30 minutes. The battle was over, but the massacre had just begun. A crazed massacre, killing men, women and children, they burnt everything in their passage. 67 people were coldly executed and 50 homes destroyed in the fires.
Today a lantern stands in commemoration of the 67 civil victims.
The village had lived through other wars, many years before, as it was also the stage for the Napoleon campaigns in 1814. At that time, the area was occupied by encampments for soldiers attacking the Prussian army a few kilometres away.
Now, on a lighter subject... the village church, dedicated to the Assumption of our Lady was built in the 1850s. The neoclassical style is easily detected in the facade and the columns topped with Corinthian capitals.
The greater part of the town church, Saint Aventin, was built in the 16th century. It has a number of elements on the historical monument list, such as the 16th-century stained-glass windows, the 18th- and 19th-century reliquaries and a 19th-century lectern adorned with an eagle.
Next to the church, an obelisk pays tribute to soldiers lost in the 1870, Algerian, and First and Second World Wars. Creney-près-Troyes suffered greatly during the Second World War, commemorated by the war memorial in allée des Martyrs. The sculpture of a shot Resistance fighter stands on a pedestal, with the names of the martyrs engraved on a bronze plaque. And a tree was planted in memory of each victim. Two days prior to the Buchères massacre, the 22nd of August 1944 at about 5.00pm, 49 prisoners were led from Troyes jail to a shooting range, where they were executed without trial by Gestapo SS.
Once upon a time it was possible to travel to Lusigny by train; until the 1990s! The station is no longer in use, but it was used as the model for an electric train set which is still sold by the company Jouef. It has its own place in posterity!
Amongst the important monuments in the town, don’t forget to take a look at the 16th-century church of Saint-Martin and the furnishings, some of which are listed. The vestiges of the Larrivour Cistercian Abbey are also interesting to visit. And when you go through the town, don’t forget to admire the work by Klaus Rinke, Water which pays tribute to Gaston Bachelard. It is one of the four works dedicated to the Elements theme. You can also admire Earth in Mailly-Champagne, Air in Langres and Fire in Chooz.
But let’s go back to Lusigny, where a house has a wall pierced with bones, a local particularity the origin of which remains unknown. One legend says the bones belonged to horses killed in the 1814 battle between Napoleon’s troupes and the Prussian and Austrian armies. But it is also said that in some regions it was customary to use bones as tools, for trellising for example, or for conjuring up evil spirits. Despite all these ideas, the question remains unanswered. Take a look and make your own opinion.
It is also said that Lusigny gave its name to the fairy tale of Mélusine. But there again, opinions differ!
Besides an unrivalled natural setting, Mesnil-Saint-Père is charming for its architectural heritage: timber-framed houses similar to those found in the medieval centre of Troyes, the beautiful, colourful town hall, the war memorial in the impasse des Martyrs, where a woman is depicted crying for local victims. It is a particularly touching monument...
Then make a detour to the church of Saint-André which tells about the town’s life in the 12th century! Listed as a historical monument, it is now closed for security reasons, but you can still admire it from the outside.
In the 18th century, Mesnil-Saint-Père was at the centre of the tiling boom. Over thirty tile and brick factories operated in the Orient forest area. They experienced an enormous boom thanks to the use of clay for manufacturing tiles and bricks, used in traditional housing construction.
Near the Orient forest lakes there is a forest named Forêt du Temple, which evokes the Order of the Temple. It’s true that these monk-soldiers owned land, woods, lakes, villages and command posts which they often gave very evocative names.
The “Grand Mesnil”, as it was called in the Middle Ages, is a delightful place to live. The many holiday homes are an indication! It is also an ideal place for observing the wildlife of the Orient forest. It is home to a cervid reserve, home to many deer, and is also a migration stop for birds. Nearly 250 species have been observed!
The church of Saint Benoit dates back to the 12th century. It is one of the oldest Roman churches in the Aube area, and its architecture has not been disfigured despite a 16th-century restoration. The glass work and monumental Christ on the Cross, a 16th-century masterpiece made in Champagne, are listed historical monuments. The apse is a reminder of the influence of rural construction on places of worship in the 12th century. Ask at the town hall for opening times!
Feuges may not have provided many illustrious men and women to France’s history, but it did count a certain Charles-Michel de l’Epée amongst its residents, better known as Abbé de l’Epée. Parish priest of Feuges from 1736 to 1738, he founded the deaf and dumb institute in Paris and contributed to the improvement of French sign language.
The church, dedicated to the young saint, is a listed historical monument. The nave dates back to the 15th century and the sanctuary to the 16th century. It has a rich and diverse collection of furnishings, of which over thirty elements are listed. Note in particular the 9th-century sarcophagus, a statue and a reliquary bust...and of course, the stained glass!
Stop to visit Vermoise castle on the route to Saint-Benoit-sur-Seine . Dating back to the 16th century, it is listed as a historical monument for its Renaissance facade and the keep roof. Today it is private property and run as a guesthouse, where you can stay or organise a reception.
Saint-Maure also has an early 19th-century castle in the middle of a treed park which is now home to an agricultural college. In the entrance, there is an atlas that came from the Villacerf castle, about 8 kilometres away.
As you leave the village, heading towards Barberey-Saint-Sulpice, you cross the Haute Seine canal. A project initiated by Napoleon the First when he passed through Troyes in 1805, it was originally planned to link Paris with Burgundy. Digging was completed in the middle of the 19th century. From then, barges travelled regularly between Troyes and Paris. They transported a range of goods, including hosiery, wine, wood for heating and coal. The canal was operational until 1957, before being removed from the list of navigable waterways. A few years ago, a greenway was created on the former towpath. It goes all the way to the village of Saint-Oulph, on the border of the department.
20 Barberey-Saint Sulpice
Built in 1626 for Jean le Mairat, a prominent citizen of the seigneury of Barberey, the Barberey-Saint-Sulpice castle has two prestigious accreditations. The first: Jardins Remarquables for its remarkable gardens, awarded to the re-landscaped park in 1965 which is open to visitors in summer. The second: a listed historical monument, awarded to the Louis XIII-style castle for its roof and facade.
The church of Saint Sulpice, which also gave its name to the suffix of the town’s name, is also listed. A certain number of elements are worth visiting, such as the Roman nave, the Renaissance rostrum and the reliquary bust of Saint Sulpice. Discover the funeral monument to Claude-Louis Bruslé, the first Prefect of Aube, whose heart is said to be kept in an urn…
Four wars are commemorated in Barberey by a sculpted Poilu soldier bust and several plaques: the 1870-1871 war, the First and Second World Wars and finally, the Indochina war.
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