Here you’ll find travel reports about Charleville-Mézières. Discover travel destinations in France of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

2 travelers at this place:

  • Day1004

    Charleville-Mézières (3rd time)

    March 27 in France ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    We are at Charleville-Mézières, in the Champagne Ardenne region, for the third time of this tour, having previously visited in July '16 and November '17. It was one of the first official aires we ever stayed, when in our old van, we took a week to visit the dealer in Germany where we bought our current motorhome, Martha. The aire itself requires vans to park side on to each other on a slope and its old service machine is out of order, meaning there is no fresh water. Perhaps it is our historic connection that keeps drawing us back, but we really love the place. It is situated on a large river island in a horseshoe meander of the Meuse. Overlooking a marina, we are in an area of the town dedicated to leisure, with a rowing club, indoor swimming pool, walks, cycle tracks and of course the obligatory petanque pitches nearby. A short walk over the powder green pedestrian bridge transports you into sandstone streets and the hustle and bustle of town, in whose heart you'll find the beautiful, cobbled Place Ducale. Classy cafés, bars and restaurants spill tables and chairs out from underneath the stately porticos into the open air and at this time of year a lively buzz emanates from whichever corner the sun is shining on. A fairground carousel adds a touch of magic to the scene.

    When leaving our previous stopover at Boussois, Vicky spotted a bulge in Martha's left rear tyre as well as a broken cable hanging down. Whilst we had the front tyres replaced in Norway back in 2017, the rear ones are the originals, meaning they are 4 years old and have travelled over 53,000 miles. Will searched online and found a tyre specialist (point S), just a few kilometres from our intended aire and added it as a waypoimt to our journey. Arriving at 1:30pm we waited half an hour for them to open. They checked the specs and although they didn't have anything suitable in stock, they could order new tyres and fit them in two day's time for €213 all inclusive. This suited us well and we agreed to return then. Although we don't understand all of what is being said in French and are only able to express ourselves in very basic terms, we really appreciate having taken the time to learn enough of the language to get by in situations such as these, without requiring the person we're conversing with to go out of their way and speak our language (although many choose to practice their English with us!)

    We snapped up the last space at Charleville-Mézières and Will fished in the marina while Vicky sat outside and got to work with a needle and thread, repairing tears in our insulating windscreen mat. As the sun began to get low in the sky, we wandered into town and picked up some fruit at our favourite grocers. We remembered buying freshly made pasta on a previous visit, but perhaps the little store had shut down, as we didn't manage to find it. Never mind, Will cooked up veggie spag bol with some dried pasta we had in the cupboard and we'd enjoyed soaking in the jovial, early evening atmosphere.

    The following day's weather was good for outdoor activities; the sky wasn't clear but enough sun came through to warm the air. Vicky set out on foot for an early morning explore of the steep, wooded hill behind the aire, dropping down and crossing the familiar road bridge, whose stand out feature is the national flags flying at an angle over the water. Looping back, she walked the length of the small, mid-river island, upon which the pedestrian bridge touches down. There was a multitude of Spring flowers spreading their petals, from clusters of primulas in white and lilac to a spread of white woodland flowers with glossy, deep green leaves that covered the ground.

    By looking on Trip Advisor, we discovered Charleville-Mézières was the start of the 85km Trans Ardennes cycle route, leading north along the winding course of the River Meuse, to Givet, near the Belgian border. It had been ages since we'd taken the tandem out together and this sounded like just the sort of route we'd enjoy (it was flat)! Maps.Me showed that the town of Nouzonville was just 9km downriver and had a few bars, a boulangerie and a waterside picnic area; perfect!

    Closed roads made it a little difficult to start with, but we were able to cycle the perimeter of our island and cross over at the south end, to where the Trans-Ardennes track began. It was a great route that took us away from roads and wound between tree clad hillsides, past fields and little plots of land that looked as if they were used as summer getaways. We even passed a mansion with a small herd of deer!

    Leaving the bike at the outskirts of Nouzonville, it didn't take us long to get our bearings. The place was a bit run down but the four florists on the high street seemed to be doing well! We'd spotted 'Bar Sulky' on Maps.Me and had been won over by the name but on closer inspection, it turned out to be a horse racing bar that didn't look very inviting, so we went to the popular boulangerie who did a lunch deal. From a range of savoury pastries, paninis and baguette sandwiches, Vicky had a cheese flan (the only veggie option) and Will a ham baguette, accompanied by a rasberry tart, custard slice and orange juice. We took them back to the out of town picnic area and ate overlooking the water. The flan was disgusting, but everthing else was scrumptious! All in all, we cycled about 20km and would definitely recommend the route to anybody in the area. It was well maintained and a great way to see the Ardennaise scenery without having to climb any hills!

    On Friday we drove the short distance to point S and were pleased when they remembered us. Martha couldn't fit inside their garage but they pulled their van alongside her in the car park and within 30 minutes of arriving, she had a new pair of good quality mud and snow tyres! We asked the mechanic about the broken cable and caught the word 'brake' in his reply. The ABS perhaps? Although the dashboard warning light hadn't come on... He said it would need to be changed, but that it didn't matter, so we left with just the new tyres to ponder what to do next...
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  • Day7

    Charleville Mezieres, Champagne Region

    July 3, 2016 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    We returned to this stopover by a river marina after visiting in November 2014.

    On arrival there was a fete in the adjacent park so we spent half an hour eating ice cream and watching live bands.

    Monday saw most shops closed but we wandered round town for 3 hours, crossing over the bridge to the 'Mezieres' part which was more run down and had anti immigration and anti EU stickers on lamposts. We returned to the Charleville part and bought 'plate du jour' and a small bottle of wine at a restaurant with street tables - delicious!

    Tuesday we bought a baguette and croissants from the mobile boulangerie van that visits the stopover each morning, then headed out in the canoe to explore the river.

    Wednesday we went for a dip at the swimming baths over the road, emptied tanks, filled up with water and moved on!

    Vicky: "I haven't found the change to living and travelling in the van as overwhelming or stressful as I feared it might be. Although it is early days yet, I've been the most relaxed I've been in a long time. We spent so many years and so much time in the last year preparing and ensuring that as many things as possible were in place, that the transition so far has been exciting rather than scary".
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  • Day509

    Charleville-Mézières, France

    November 17, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    We'd been driving close to the French border for some time and were nearing our favourite French town, Charleville-Mézières. We'd first discovered it in November 2014 when we'd taken our old motorhome to Germany, in order to choose and order the van we have now. We had also visited in the first week of our European tour so it seemed apt to return in the final week of this first chapter.

    The road dipped in and out of Belgium and France. Although we don't usually like to cross between different countries, preferring to immerse ourselves in one place, doing so between Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany over the last 6 weeks has given us a greater sense of the political and physical geography. For example, the wooded river valleys of the Ardennes region straddle Belgium and France.

    Taking the long route round, through chicaned residential streets to avoid the low bridge, we passed the swimming baths and busy petanque court, pulled in at the familiar aire and levelled the van on the chocks. It almost felt homely to be back overlooking this marina with its rowing and canoe club.

    We remembered that the main square had been beautifully lit 3 years ago, so waited until after tea , wrapped up warm and headed out into the near freezing air and over the bridge to see if it was still as beautiful as we remembered. The streets were strung with christmas decorations that had not yet been turned on. It must be magical when their warm white lights glow and rebound off the sandstone walls.

    The large main square didn't let us down; tall, stately buildings made out of the same sandstone as had lined the streets on which we had approached. A colonade ran along two sides, sheltering outdoor diners. The remaining sides were illuminated, one with coloured uplighters and the other with plain lights. The same carousel that we'd seen 3 years ago was beginning to close up, but stood out with large bulbs set in the shape of hearts around the top and strategically positioned to show the ride off at its best.

    During the night, temperatures plummeted to -3° and the ground was covered with white frost when we awoke, affording Vicky an opportunity to indulge her artistic streak with the camera. We wanted to pay Charleville-Mézières back for our overnight stay, so returned to the centre with a rucksack. There are a number of small independent shops and we were able to pick up some organic bread, fruit and veg, as well as some bubbly as a christmas present.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Charleville-Mézières, Charleville-Mezieres

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