Here are some of the interesting activities to do in Melun et Meaux. Both towns are off the beaten track and infrequently visited by many tourists.
The history of Melun dates back to Roman times, when the city was called Melodunum. It flourished during the medieval period, when the kings of France favored it as a residence. Geographically, Melun is located near the Fontainebleau forest, the second largest forest in France and a former royal hunting ground.
Collegiate Church of Notre Dame
Like Notre-Dame de Paris, the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame de Melun is located on a small island in the middle of the Seine. The church was built between 1016 and 1031, during the reign of King Robert II. Romanesque in style, the church has a 150-foot-long nave with high arches and windows. It originally housed the Melun Diptych, a two-panel oil painting by Jean Fouquet dating from 1452 and considered one of the most beautiful works of religious art in the Western Hemisphere. The diptych has since been split between Antwerp and Berlin.
Vaux Le Vicomte
The main attraction in Melun is the spectacular Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte. Nicolas Fouquet, superintendent of finances to King Louis XIV, bought the estate and built the most spectacular castle and gardens in France between 1658 and 1651.
When King Louis XIV saw the completed palace, he was so envious of its beauty that he confiscated the palace and its contents and put Fouquet in prison. He then hired the architect (Louis Le Vau), the landscape designer (André Le Notre) and the painter / decorator (Charles Le Brun) who had worked in Vaux le Vicomte to design the Palace of Versailles.
Today the castle is privately owned and is open to the public. In addition to tours of the castle and the magnificent gardens, Vaux le Vicomte sponsors themed events throughout the year. Spend a summer evening sipping champagne in the garden with the candlelit castle, or enjoy the fantastic Christmas show, decorations and events in December.
In 2015, the National Police Training School in Melun opened its archives as a museum, the Musée de la Gendarmerie. The fascinating content includes 10,000 images and 30,000 objects relating to the history of police training.
The town of Meaux was the site of the siege of Meaux, which took place between 1421 and 1422 during the Hundred Years War between France and England. In September 1914, it was the site of the first battle of the Marne. During this conflict, which changed the course of the First World War, the French bravely fought the Germans who arrived at the gates of the city.
Brie De Meaux House
Since Meaux is one of the main producers of Brie cheese, it is only natural that the city has a museum dedicated to it. At La Maison du Brie de Meaux, you will learn about the history of cheese, the cheese-making process (from the milking of the cows to the aging process to the finished product – a thick and creamy wheel of Brie) and the rules. strict government. on the content of the cheese.
If you visit Meaux between April and September, you will have the opportunity to try Brie at its best, when it is perfectly aged.
Pro tip: Meaux is also famous for a top grain mustard that comes in decorative ceramic jars.
In 1932, the United States erected a monument in honor of the soldiers fallen in action during the first battle of the Marne. The formidable 85-foot-tall monument represents Liberty in Tears and was sculpted by Frederick William MacMonnies, who attended the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The American monument stands next to the Great War Museum.
Great War Museum
Military history buffs will want to spend time at the Great War Museum. Opened on Armistice Day, November 11, 2011, the World War I museum features replicas of battlefields equipped with French and German trenches and no-go areas in between. Visitors can also attend multimedia presentations with sound and light effects.
A museum of history and art, the Bossuet Museum was once the majestic episcopal palace of Bishop Jacques-Benigne Lignel Bossuet, a preacher at the court of King Louis XIV.
Built in 1160, the palace was renovated in the 17th century and includes both Gothic and Renaissance style elements. The museum has a large collection of paintings and sculptures from the 16th to the 19th century. Each room represents a significant artistic period or movement; there are rooms devoted to mannerism, the classical period and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is also a room dedicated to Bishop Bossuet.
Make sure to visit the beautiful Bossuet Gardens next to the palace. The formal gardens are made up of four flower beds inside a line of boxwood hedges, and there is a row of lime trees which creates shade in summer.
Pro tip: Trains from Paris to Melun and Meaux leave from Gare de Lyon.