Downtown Chaumont – Part I

On our first full day in France, we walked three miles from our hotel in Chamarandes-Choignes to the city center in Chaumont. It felt wonderful to stretch our legs after so many hours of being sedentary, and I was delighted by how distinctly French the roads and buildings were along our route. Every few minutes, I lagged behind the group to photograph colorful street signs and window shutters.

I knew from a quick stroll the day before that each shop in the area had a very specific purpose. My sister’s quest for cigarettes took us to a grocer and a pharmacist, both of whom stared at us in shock and shook their heads. Finally, we spotted a large red sign advertising “Tabac,” and we stopped inside to find that cigarettes are sold exclusively in tobacco stores.

I laughed at the previous day’s exploits as we passed by the tobacco shop in question and continued on to downtown Chaumont. I thought the roads might widen up as we walked closer to the city center, but the opposite was true. We crossed over the railroad tracks and found ourselves in a city seemingly forgotten by time.

Narrow Streets and Cobbled Paths in Chaumont, France
Narrow streets and cobbled paths
Group Photo of my Family in Chaumont Centre Ville, France
Partial family photo
Scene Around Town Chaumont Centre-Ville, France
Seen around town
Siblings in Chaumont Centre-Ville, France
Three of my siblings enjoying the park
Exploring the Centre-Ville of Chaumont, France
These beautiful doors and shutters were seemingly made to be photographed.
Pretty Michelle and a Shutter Holder in Chaumont Centre-Ville, France
Little details, like this shutter holder shaped like a person, make Chaumont a unique French gem.
My Beautiful Sisters Exploring the Streets of Chaumont, France
My beautiful sisters enjoying the centre-ville.

We walked along narrow cobblestone sidewalks and gawked at ornate, time-worn buildings, all in varying shades of beige and ivory. A single strip of pavement wound through the city, the only indicator that time was in fact still passing us by. Cars and motorcycles vied for space along the side streets, out of place in the old city.

Worn But Beautiful Buildings on the Streets of Chaumont, France
Though the buildings are old and worn with age, they still retain a certain beauty and charm.
The Charming Streets of Chaumont, A Small Town in France
Photo Credit: Michelle Tryon

We wound between shops and restaurants, many of which were closed while their owners were on summer holiday, finally arriving at the steps of the Basilique Saint Jean-Baptiste. We spent half an hour or so roaming between the stained glass windows. I am not a religious person in any way, but the building was beautiful, and I would have liked to spend more time inside.

Exterior Detail of the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist, Chaumont, France
Photo Credit: Michelle Tryon
Entering le Basilique Sainte Jean-Baptiste, Chaumont Centre-Ville, France
Exterior details of the basilica
Entering le Basilique Sainte Jean-Baptiste, Chaumont Centre-Ville, France
Interior details of the basilica. I love that shot of Michelle bathed in a heavenly glow from the window!
Stained Glass and Other Interior Details in the Basilique Sainte Jean-Baptiste, Chaumont, France
Pretty architectural details and stained glass patterns

After leaving the basilica, we planned on visiting a historic dungeon and museum, located by the Palace of Justice. The dungeon, it turned out, was closed due to disrepair, so we stopped to take in the views of the city.

Charming Homes and Lush Greenery in Chaumont's Centre Ville
More of the beautiful little town, seen from the park near the Palace of Justice.
Michelle Overlooking the Countryside of Chaumont, France
Michelle enjoying the beautiful countryside
Family Relaxing on a Bench Overlooking Chaumont Centre-Ville, France
My cute family relaxing on a park bench
Panoramic Shot of Chaumont, France, from the Park
Lovely panoramic views over the countryside

After our rest, we continued on in search of lunch. In France, it is not uncommon for shop owners and employees to take two hour lunch breaks, and many stores close between noon and 2 o’clock. We wound up settling for pastries from one of the cafes in the town square, although settling probably isn’t the right word in this case. My lunch consisted of a coffee-flavored eclair and a fizzy lemon drink, while my siblings snacked on lemon bars, chocolate eclairs, and fruit tarts. The younger kids, feet aching and bellies grumbling, were ready to go home, so our group split up after lunch, allowing those who were interested more time to explore.

Click here for Part Two of our explorations in downtown Chaumont!

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