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Best Historic Locations in Champagne & Brie Region

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One of the largest royal châteaux in France, the Palace of Fontainebleau has hosted some of the most notable of the country's kings, queens and aristocrats from the 12th Century onward. Its interiors feature an opulent and grandiose collection of ornamentation that run the gamut from wood paneling, gilded carvings and frescoes to fine art, tapestries and sculpture. Only the keep of the original 12th-century chateau built by King Louis VII still stands, the rest replaced by the exuberant reconstruction of the palace in the Renaissance style by King Francis I. Built to an aesthetic recently imported from Italy in the 16th Century, the chateau is one of the earliest examples of this kind of architecture in France. Over the subsequent years, Fontainebleau was expanded as successive generations of monarchs, including Henri II, Catherine de Médicis, Henri IV and Louis XVI, made their own additions. Known to have been adored by Napoleon Bonaparte I, Fontainebleau has played a major role in Europe's monarchical history. Henry the III, Louis the XII and Philip the Fair were all born here. Even Pope Pius VII stayed here for a time before the palace became the seat of the Second Empire of Napoleon III. Following World War II, the palace served as the headquarters of the Allied Forces and NATO. Today, it is a museum that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Surrounded by lush gardens, the Palace of Fontainebleau is the very epitome of opulence.

This château has two significantly inspired events. One was the tragic downfall of Fouquet, a minister who paid the price of life imprisonment because King Louis XIV was jealous of his beautiful château. And under the influence of Fouquet, Vaux-le-Vicomte became a haven for French artists, writers and sculptors who gave their all for the glory of the residence. Check the website for information on the different visits. There is a candlelight visit that is going to be apt for all the lovebirds. Hours vary throughout the year and you can buy passes for more than one day; see the website or call for more information.

The town of Provins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a dream come true for historians and interested tourists. Ancient relics and artifacts of French antiquity are scattered densely throughout the town. To wander past many amazing medieval monuments and buildings, depart from the Place du Châtel to take a walk in the Ville Haute, the oldest part of town. The Saint Ayoul Church is in this neighborhood, as well as the Tour César (Cesar's Tower), the Saint Quiriace Collegiate Church and the Grange aux Dîmes (Tithe Barn), along with 54 other sites. The office of tourism provides guided tours of the town, and the city welcomes all visitors to the Provins Medieval Festival each summer.

Constructed in 1172, this 'Commanderie' began as a an agricultural community of monks whose proceeds went to fund the crusades. By 1307 the pope ordered that the village become a hospital. Simply put, this village is a historical landmark that has endured hundreds of years of religious and political strife. In 1964, the village was threatened by the expansion of urban zoning but was saved by a local association that signed a 99 year lease. For the last 30 years volunteers have been maintaining the site. Thanks to Les Ateliers de Techniques Anciennes, who have been leading workshops on ancient building restoration, the Commanderie des templiers stands strong.

The crypts Saint Paul and Saint Ebrégésile, better known as the Jouarre crypts, are some of the best preserved crypts from the early middle ages. The crypt Saint Agilbert was founded in the year 660, and contains three sarcophagi of it's original founders. Please check the website for seasonal timings.

This was once the residence of Jacques-Benigne Bossuet during his time serving as a French Bishop in Meaux. The building was constructed in the 12th Century, long before Bossuet actually lived there, however visitors can still see his tombstone on the grounds. There are tours that operate around the palace, including the cathedral and the gardens, that give background to the difference architectural styles that dominate the building. The residence was in constant construction from the 12th Century all the way up until the 17th Century with the completion of major changes on the lower level. In 1927, the building was listed as a historic landmark and has since housed the Bossuet Museum.

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