LAON
Department: Aisne (02)
Region: HAUTS-DE-FRANCE
[Picardie]


A fortified mediaeval town standing on a hill, Laon offers visitors a chance to discover its past, with many historic buildings and valuable books and manuscripts. With more than 80 listed Monuments historiques, including Notre-Dame cathedral. L'Hôtel-Dieu is one of the oldest and best preserved hospitals in France.

© ATOUT FRANCE/CRT Picardie/Claude Jacquot


In the centre of Aisne, Laon is one town it is not easy to miss; it stands perched clearly on a huge hill more than 100 metres above the surrounding plain, today the departmental capital, but with a pedigree that dates back to its time as the capital of the Carolingian Empire (9th-10th century), when it was known as Laudunum.

Secure behind its great walls and ramparts, which even these days are difficult to find your way through, the city thrived throughout the Middle Ages, a golden age for ‘La montagne couronnée’, which saw the building of its impressive cathedral of Notre Dame. This is one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in France, on which work commenced in the 12th century. Its greatness served as a model for other French cathedrals, notably Chartres, Reims and Dijon, and some English cathedrals, too – York and Durham. The rich architectural legacy has made Laon the largest protected heritage site in France.


This is unquestionably a town for exploring on foot, the network of narrow and often cobbled streets is a maze for a visiting motorist, and promeneurs will always have the advantage. This was how I stumbled upon (the now closed) 'La Bonne Heure' in the rue Châtelaine, a simple and unfussy bistro specialising in produits de terroir, and serving tortinettes, a kind of modest-sized pizza with a wide selection of toppings and lashings of the local Maroilles cheese. Ten years ago, the bistro found itself in the Guinness Book of Records, having produced the world’s longest andouillette, which locals later queued up to pay ten francs per ten centimetres to take away as souvenirs.

As I tottered up and down the steep grimpettes, the pathways between the upper and lower town formerly used by the vineyard workers, I could hear Debussy; someone was playing La Plus que Lente (badly; I play it badly, too, so I know), reminding me that the town holds an annual and extremely popular Festival of French Music.




TOURIST INFORMATION

Office de Tourisme de Laon
Hôtel Dieu, Place du Parvis Gautier de Mortagne, 02000 LAON

Tel: 03 23 20 28 62
www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com


Recent Articles

  1. French Naturist Beaches Top 8 French Nudist Beaches For Naturists

    Jun 08, 19 09:15 AM

    French naturist beaches are some of the finest in the world. Here's our top 8 French nudist beaches to visit for a dream holiday.

    Read More

  2. Best Places to Visit in France Top 10 Bucket List

    Jun 02, 19 08:39 AM

    Whether you're a first time traveller or confirmed Francophile we've put together our top 10 bucket list of places to visit in France you simply must see.

    Read More

  3. Birdwatching in France Top 7 Reserves and Areas for Birding in France

    Jun 01, 19 09:03 AM

    Planning to go birdwatching in France? Here's our top 7 reserves and areas for birders to visit including Camargue, Baie de Somme, Tarn Gorge and Teich Bird Reserve

    Read More

  4. Canal du Midi Boating Holidays What to See Boat Hire

    May 18, 19 06:06 AM

    The Canal du Midi is the best boating holiday in France. Our guide explains what to see, why it's the best choice for beginners and Canal du Midi boat hire.

    Read More

  5. Eiffel Tower Facts And Eiffel Tower Information If You Visit Paris

    Apr 28, 19 01:12 PM

    20 amazing Eiffel Tower facts and alll the essential Eiffel Tower information you need if you're planning to visit this astonishing Paris landmark.

    Read More