THINGS TO DO

Must-see attractions

As a hub of settlement since pre and protohistoric times, the area boasts a very rich history.From Celtics tombs to monuments erected by soldiers of the First World War, from megalithic structures to the mighty castle in Pierrefonds and the traditional local architecture, stone has always been available and harnassed in all its forms.

The Suessiones, Romans, Merovingians, Carolingians, Normans, Templars, English, Burgundians, Huguenots and members of the Catholic League alike walked and crossed swords on this territory, located along the French regions Pays de Valois, Pays Soissonais, Pays Noyonnais and Pays Compiegnois.

Closely linked to the water that covered it over 50 million years ago, this territory has been shaped and sculpted into several little valleys home to babbling brooks surrounded by plateaus. The historical presence of water left significant geological footprints and several fossils, with one of our townships even serving as a global stratotype model. Water likewise made its mark on our contemporary local history, with one of our cities boasting a thermal spa.

THE CASTLE OF PIERREFONDS

 

Built at the edge of the Compiègne woodland, the impressive castle of pierrefonds proudly overlooks the village. Its towers come gradually into view, emerging majestically from behind the forest as we approach the castle.

Located on the first castrum of the village, the first real fortress was built in the times of Louis of Orléans, the younger brother of King Charles VI (otherwise known as Charles the Mad) between 1398 and 1407. Construction came to a halt in 1407 when Louis Duke of Valois was murdered by his cousin John the Fearless, which marked the beginning of the civil war between the Armagnacs and the Burgundians. The castle was finaly finished throughout the course of the 15th century by Charles and Louis of Orléans.

Besieged in 1617 on the orders of young Louis XIII seeking to assert his power, the fortress was destroyed the following year and remained in ruins for more than two centuries

Rescued by Napoléon the 1st in 1811 and listed as a Historical Monument in 1848, the ruins were visited in 1850 by the President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte who, asked the architect Viollet-le-Duc to restore the castle in 1857.

THE ESPACE DECOUVERTE IN RETHONDES

 

Associated with the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 and the Armistice of 22 June 1940, which despite the name of the clearing took place within the limits of the town of Rethondes saw Marshal Foch and General Weygand come pray at its church on the eve of the 11 November 1918. A plaque commemorating this moment of reverence can be found at the place of worship, in addition to a stained-glass window.

As such, it is only fitting that the information centre is found in Rethondes, acting as one of the entrances to the Musée Territoire 14-18, an open-air museum located between the Somme battlefields and the Chemin des Dames.

Situated next to the Church, the Espace Découverte is a modern building aimed at welcoming, raising awareness of local history and providing the resources to discover the front line of the historic battle using high-tech tools and understand the life of soldiers and civilians alike throughout this period.

The centre dispays a large number of documents, including photos and accounts written by soldiers, available in three languages  – French, English and German.

 

Label centenaire 14-18logo Musée Territoire 14-18

THE GEOLOGICAL SITE IN CUISE-LA-MOTTE

 

It was in 1877 that the stratotype (geological layer) of Cuise-la-Motte was defined. In 2017, a path of discovery in the form of a public garden will open here, enabling the public to gather information an our region’s rich geographic, biological and geological past.

By analysing the hundreds of species found on sites, such as invertebrates molluscs, fishes and crustaceans, it was possible to establish that 50 million years ago there was a shallow, warm sea (16-22°C) here. The most recognised fossils on this geological site include Nummulites, small shells the size of the Roman coin known as a nummus.

By observing the layers of sand at the geological site, it was possible to retrace the history of this sea (advancement, retreat, temperature and currents etc…), as well as its environment. Come and wander around and let your imagination take you away : the dinausaurs have recently disappeared and are being replaced by mammals, the first primates appear, you are surrounded by lush mangroves and regular bird calls.