Haute Marne (Grande Est)

The Via Francigena runs through the forests of the Haute Marne department for a distance of 123km, passing the walled city of Langres, with alternative routes of 87 km most of the way. This section is well marked.

The departement is named after the Marne River, which rises near Langres, and has Chaumont as the capital. The southwest of the department is highest, but still only rises to 516m at Haut du Sac. From there a series of cliff-faces descend to the northeast. It has a low population, because about 40% of the area is covered with forest, much of it publicly owned. Much of the remainder of the land is used for agriculture, especially grazing, and produces famous cheese brands. It also produces some wine and champagne.

The industries are based on metallurgy but with some investment in modern industries. This has not kept pace with employment requirements and since 2000, there has been a loss of jobs and outward migration. Recently, service and hi-tech industries have been promoted.

History of Haute Marne

The province was Roman occupied but converted early to Christianity. Historically the seat of the Counts of Bassigny and later of Champagne, Haute Marne’s capital, Chaumont was the venue of an offensive treaty against Napoleon I signed by the United Kingdom, Austria, Prussia, and Russia in 1814.

During the 2nd World War, Haute Marne was occupied and partitioned – the eastern part was allocated as a German possession. Chaumont was bombed in 1940 and 1944. Liberated in 1944, General de Gaulle took a personal interest in the area and retired to the village of Colombey les Deux Eglises, where he eventually died.

From 1951 to 1967, the United States Air Force under NATO operated the Chaumont-Semoutiers Air Base on the outskirts of the city.

Interesting Places in Haute Marne

Chateauvillain (Commune de Châteauvillain)

This small medieval town on the Via Francigena has a tradition of hospitality that may make you want to stay longer, but also a chapel with rather gruesome statues of its former owners. The route runs through the Parc aux Daims, a walled deer park.



Langres is a beautiful walled and moated medieval town set amongst fields and forest. The ramparts that surround the town are about 3.5km long and include seven fortified towers and seven gateways, some 2000 years old, some 15th-16th century, some more modern. You can either walk the walls or take a tour on a small tram. The cathedral is worth a visit.


Abbaye d’Auberive

The Cistercian abbey at Alba Ripa was founded in 1135 by 12 monks from Clairvaux Abbey and was a self-contained farming centre with canals, mills ands fish farms. It was entirely reconstructed in the 18th C around a square. After spells as a cotton-mill, a prison and a private home, it is now a cultural centre and hosts visitors walking the route.



Culmont-Chalindrey is a major railway station and junction, and also has a nearby viaduct.

Chateau de Pailly

This moated chateau was constructed in 1563 on three sides of a square for the Marchal of France. The Renaissance style building has a park and gardens and is open in summer.



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