The gateway to Champagne and Burgundy – with history and mouth-watering gastronomy aplenty – Troyes is the perfect spot for a weekend break.
1. History galore
Troyes is best explored on foot. Take a stroll along the Ruelle des Chats (the lane of cats) – the narrowest street in the city – and wander past the colourful timber-framed houses that adorn the historic centre, before exploring its medieval-inspired gardens and secret courtyards.
2. Listed churches
Troyes has no shortage of stunning churches. Take Sainte-Madeleine, with its magnificent rood screen, Saint-Pantaléon and its remarkable 16th-century statues, or the Saint-Urbain basilica and its radiant Gothic architecture. How about popping into the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul which boasts more than 1,500m² of stained glass, or the church of Saint-Nizier with its spectacular glazed roof-tiles? These are a just a few of the beautiful churches in the area.
3. Rare collections
Culture vultures will get their fix at one of the city’s countless museums. Among them, the Vauluisant Museum of hosiery and Champagne art, Museum Saint-Loup (archaeology and fine arts), The City of Stained Glass, the Rashi House, and the House of Tools and Workers’ Thought (MOPO), with its wonderfully creative displays of 11,000 hand tools. The Museum of Modern Art (MAM) is a real collectors’ museum. After several years of renovation, the presentation of the collections has been completely redesigned to provide a new backdrop for the works of the Pierre and Denise Lévy National Collections. This is an opportunity to discover paintings, sculptures and works of art, from the realism of the 1850s to the abstract works of the 1950s. The itinerary of the permanent exhibition has been thought out chronologically; it will allow you to admire works by great artists such as Gustave Courbet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, André Derain or Robert Delaunay.
4. Shopper’s paradise
The home of iconic fashion designers Lacoste and Petit Bateau, Troyes is also the European capital of shopping outlets, with more than 250 stores and 400 brands. Four million visitors take advantage of the huge discounts on offer each year, which range between 30% and 70% off.
5. A monument to love
Don’t miss Thierry and Michèle Kayo-Houël’s three-metre-high metal heart sculpture. This romantic artwork sits at the heart of the city’s historic centre and, poetically, not far from the bridge of Héloïse and Abélard – tragic lovers who courted in the Middle Ages.
6. Delicacies to savour
No trip to the Champagne city would be complete without sampling the famous andouillette of Troyes, Chaource cheese, the Prunelle de Troyes (local liqueur), or ‘world champion of desserts’ Pascal Caffet’s chocolate confections – all washed down with a cheeky flute of champagne!
7. A breath of fresh air
Ready for a little exercise? Why not head to the Great Lakes of the Orient Forest? A 42km cycle path links Troyes’s historic centre and this lush forest. A favourite with hikers, it also makes for an idyllic picnic spot.
8. Henry V of England
It was in the cathedral of Troyes on the May 21, 1420, that the French and the English sealed the union of their respective kingdoms, thus ending the Hundred Years’ War. To reinforce this pact, on June 2, Henry V married Catherine de Valois, daughter of King Charles VI of France in the church of Saint-Jean-au-Marché. As a result, the king of England became the heir to the crown instead of Charles VII. Following Henry V and Charles VI’s deaths, Charles VII inherited the throne, returning the crown to the French royal family. In July 1429, he stayed in Troyes with Joan of Arc, who had sworn to “kick the English out of France”.
9. Stained-glass city
Troyes and the Aube département are home to the largest and most stunning collection of painted stained-glass windows in Europe (spanning 9,000m2). Troyes also boasts a stained-glass interpretation centre, which showcases the hand-painted marvels found in churches across the Aube.
You can’t zip off to Troyes without sampling the local tipple: champagne. Don’t miss the Chardonnay vineyards of Montgueux, just 10km out of the city. The Côte des Bar – 63 villages making up the world-famous appellation and encompassing a quarter of all champagne vineyards – is also just 30 minutes away.
More information at en.troyeslachampagne.com
Lead photo credit : Look up to see the lovely timbered houses of Troyes city centre © Olivier Gobert Troyes la Champagne Tourisme
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