Charleville is a major international puppetry centre (its school is justly famous), and every two years it hosts one of the largest puppet festivals in the world, the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes (wfestival-marionnette.com). Up to 250 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, pass by the Institut de la Marionette on place Winston Churchill during the day to 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 (wwww.marionnette.com/).

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