Sedan (pop. 200,000) is the largest city in the département des Ardennes, accounting for over two third of the department's population. The historic center is built on a peninsula formed by an arc of the Meuse River.
Sedan is a relatively new city by the standards of the region. The city was born with the construction of a castle in 1424 by Evrard de la Marck, a member of the powerful La Marck family from the Principality of Liège. In the 16th century, the same family became sovereign Princes of Sedan, soon after acquiring the title of Duke of Bouillon.
During the Wars of Religion, Sedan acted as an asylum for Protestant refugees. Sedan has always had a significant Jewish community as well.
In 1591, Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne (1555-1623), Viscount of Turenne, maries Charlotte de la Marck, sole heir to the Duchy of Bouillon, and inherits Sedan as well.
His second son, Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne (1611-1675), known as Marshal Turenne, was born in Sedan. He was one of six marshals in history who has been made Marshal General of France.
However, the Principality of Sedan was annexed to France after the failed conspiration of the Marquess of Cinq-Mars against Richelieu.
A centre of cloth production, begun under the patronage of Cardinal Mazarin, supported the town until the late 19th century.
During the Franco-Prussian War, on 2 September 1870, the French emperor, Napoleon III, was taken prisoner with 100,000 of his soldiers at the fateful Battle of Sedan.
This decisive victory effectively ended the Franco-Prussian War and established the 'Second Reich' in Germany. To commemorate the event, 2nd September was declared "Sedan Day" (Sedantag) in Germany, a national holiday, which it remained until 1919.
At the onset of World War II, the German army invaded neutral Belgium and crossed the Meuse River in Sedan. This allowed them to bypass the French fortification system, the Maginot Line and to conquer France fairly easily.
The main attraction in Sedan is its massive medieval castle. With its 30,000 m2 (7.5 acres) spread on 7 levels, it is one of the largest medieval fortress in Europe.
Opening Hours & Admission
The castle is open from March to September on Wednesday and Thursday from 1:30 pm to 6 pm (last entry 4:30 pm), as well as weekends and holidays at the same times + 10 am to 12 noon. It is open everyday from 10 am to 6 pm in Juy and August.
Admission is 6.9 € for adults, 4.6 € for children, and 5.35 € for students, teachers, the unemployed or the disabled.
How to get there
Sedan is on the E46 motorway, between Charleville-Mézières (20km) and Bouillon (15km) in Belgium.
By train, Sedan is 15 to 30min away from Charleville-Mézières, and 1h20min from Reims. There is no direct train connection with Belgium or Luxembourg.
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