Charleville-Mézières – an agglomeration of former stand-alone towns Charleville and Mézières – provides a good base for exploring the northern part of the region, which spreads across the meandering Meuse before the valley closes in and the forests take over.

The splendid seventeenth-century place Ducale, in the centre of town, was the result of the local duke’s envy of the contemporary place des Vosges in Paris, which it somewhat resembles. Despite the posh setting, the shops in the arcades remain down-to-earth and the cafés charge reasonable prices to sit outside.

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