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Chaumont

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Chaumont, also called Chaumont-en-Bassigny,  town, capital of Haute-Marne département, Champagne-Ardenne région, eastern France, southeast of Paris. Situated on the edge of a plateau at the confluence of the Marne and the Suize rivers in the upper Marne valley, it was originally called Calvus Mons (Bald Mountain) and was built around a 10th-century castle. At first a stronghold of the counts of Bassigny, it was the residence of the counts of Champagne for a century until 1329, when it became attached to the crown. Great Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia concluded a treaty at Chaumont in 1814, binding themselves to prosecute the Napoleonic War until final victory.

The Church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was built between the 13th and the 16th century. Chaumont is on the main railway from Paris to Basel (Switzerland) and adjacent to the Paris-Langres highway. The town was originally a centre of metalworking; now its primarily light industrial base includes the manufacture of medical appliances. Pop. (1999) 25,996; (2005 est.) 24,200.

History

The etymology of the name Chaumont, 'Calvus Mons' or "Bare Mountain", refers to the site on which the town was founded in the 10th century - a sheer-side spur of rock overlooking the Suize and Marne Valleys.

Feudal in origin and once the residence of the Counts of Champagne whose influence extended over the entire region, the town very quickly took advantage of its strategic location on the borders of Burgundy and Lorraine. A famous treaty was signed here before the Holy Alliance of European sovereigns against Napoleon. Chaumont was also selected by General Pershing in 1917 as the headquarters for Alerican troops in Europe.

Once famous for its glovemaking, Chaumont is now best-known for posters thanks to the International Poster and Graphics Festival, a great opportunity to see the Dutailly collection (posters by Toulouse Lautrec, Choubrac etc.) and contemporary works by numerous international graphic designers

Angling Information

With its 1, 800 km of rivers and lakes, Haute-Marne provides fishing enthusiasts with a privileged setting.

The 900 km of waterways are classed as first category ones, reputed for their salmonids, such as trout and grayling (especially on the River Marne and the River Rognon).

The 900 km of second category waterways offer perch, pike, pike-perch and whitefish.
As for the major lakes, anglers will be able to catch carnivorous fish, pike, pike-perch and carp there, especially when they go night-time fishing.

Places of Interest

La Maison Laurentine is a Contemporary Arts Centre that hosts exhibitions on the Aube and Aujon Valleys and on the whole of Haute-Marne.

The church dedicated to St. John the Baptist was raised to collegiate status in 1474 and became a minor basilica in 1948. It is of average size - 55 metres long, 25 metres wide and 18 metres tall. It is a superb piece of architecture and it keeps alive the "history' of the town. Built in the early years of the 13th century then extended and altered until the 16th, it has a 13th-century nave, 14th-century side aisles and a transept, chancel and ambulatory dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. Inside, there are numerous works of art including an Entombment with life-sized figures, a Rod of Jesse and various pieces by the sculptor from Chaumont, Jean-Baptiste Bouchardon (High Altar, pulpit, Fabric Committee pew and furnishings).

The Viaduct
The foundation stone of this bridge was laid on 21st November 1855. One year later, the first locomotive steamed across the viaduct, which was officially opened on 18th April 1857. An engineer by the name of Decomble designed the bridge, which has a volume of 60,000 cu. metres. An average of 2,500 workers were employed on its construction, day and night. The viaduct is 600 metres long and has 50 arches up to a height of 50 metres. The stone viaduct is one of the most remarkable bridges built in the second half of the 19th century in Europe, or perhaps in the world. Walkers can take a stroll across the first level and enjoy a view of the Suize Valley.

The Jesuit Chapel was built thanks to donations from families in Chaumont between 1629 and 1640, the chapel is impressive for its size. It is an indication of the influence of the Jesuit College set up in 1617. Its style is typical of Jesuit architecture at that time and it is admirable for the richly ornate interior, notably the huge reredos by Claude Collignon. Created in 1632, it resembles a theatrical backdrop with a high relief depicting the Assumption made by Jean-Baptiste Bouchardon in the 18th century. To the right of the West Front, in honour of Edme Bouchardon, sculptor to King Louix XV, there is the Bouchardon Fountain which is listed as a historic monument.Open afternoons only during exhibitions (closed Tuesdays). Guided tour provided by the Tourist Office.

The Creche Museum was designed to echo the festive season, it has the finest collection of 18th-century Neapolitan Nativity scenes in France. The layout is traditional. Around the Holy Family are numerous little figures representing Neapolitan society and, walking through the group, are the Three Wise Men sumptuously dressed and followed by their cortege dressed in vividly exotic colours. Other Nativity scenes made of terracotta and spun glass from Nevers, wax figures of the Infant Jesus and paintings of the Nativity, including the famous Holy Family from Poussin's studio, round off the collection.

The lower chambers in the former Palace of the Counts of Champagne (13th and 14th centuries) house the archaeological, historical and art collections of the municipal museum. Set up in 1794 with pieces confiscated during the French Revolution, the museum had an eventful history. It was originally housed in the high school before moving to the former Carmelite convent. It has occupied its present premises since 1965. Among the collection of paintings are works by Paul de Voos, Bartholoméo Bettera and François Alexandre Pernot, drawings and sculptures by Jean-Baptiste and Edme Bouchardon, a reminder of Chaumont's glovemaking industry which lasted until the mid 20th century, and a collection of antique and vintage games and toyS

Located on the banks of the River Suize at the foot of a spur of rock topped by the village, The Wash-House in en Buez is a reminder that the town's heavily-laden washerwomen used to have a long difficult walk here in order to wash their household's clothes etc. It is a vast construction consisting of five wash-houses, four of them parallel to each other. The fifth one is set at right angles to the others and was used when the water level was low.

CEMETERY IN SAINT AIGNAN
Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, the church is flanked on the north side by a beautiful, massive bell tower built of freestone. Numerous workers from the famous glovemaking firm, Tréfousse, were buried in this cemetery as were British and American soldiers killed during the First World War. The cemetery also contains a number of war memorials dedicated to the Prussian troops of 1870, the soldiers of Chaumont's two regiments (21ème RIC (colonial infantry) and 109ème RI (French infantry)) and to the American soldiers of 1918.

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Gallery
One of the many chateaux at Chaumont The viaduct at Chaumont
Chaumont on the Loire in Burgundy A weir in Chaumont
 
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