Charleville is a major international puppetry centre (its school is justly famous), and every three years it hosts one of the largest puppet festivals in the world, the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes (wfestival-marionnette.com). Up to 150 professional troupes – some from as far away as Mali and Burma – put on around fifty shows a day on the streets and in every available space in town. Tickets are cheap, and there are shows for adults as well as the usual stuff aimed at kids. If you miss the festival you can still catch one of the puppet performances year-round at the Institut de la Marionnette on place Winston Churchill (whttp://www.marionette.com). If you’re passing by here during the day, you can see one of the automated episodes of the Four Sons of Aymon enacted on the facade’s clock every hour, or all twelve scenes on Saturday at 9.15pm.

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