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Prefecture of the Meuse (55)
Population: 14,600 (Barisiens or Barrois)
Specialities: redcurrant jam, Brie de Meaux, mirabelle plum from Lorraine, poultry from Champagne.
Personalities: François, Duke of Guise (1520-1563), Rémy Exelmans, Nicolas-Charles Oudinot (marshals of the Empire), Raymond Poincaré (1860-1934, former President of the Republic), Sophie Thalmann (former Miss France)
Sport: the Barisienne (night-time running race). 42 associations and clubs for 5,000 members.
Economy: administration, tourism. The tertiary sector accounts for the vast majority of jobs in the municipality (88.3 pc), of which 35 pc are in commerce-transport-services and 53.3 pc in the administrative sector. Bar-le-Duc, as the prefecture of the Meuse, is clearly an administrative town, with a high proportion of public sector jobs.
Heritage: exceptional Renaissance heritage.
Festivals: Festival RenaissanceS (July), Watts à Bar (rock), Dimanches du parc, Festi'Cuivres.
Labels: town of art and history. Most beautiful detours in France.
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.barleduc.fr, www.tourisme-lorraine.frwww.lameuse.fr

© Ville de Bar le Duc
© Ville de Bar le Duc
© Ville de Bar le Duc


On the edge of the Bourg district, Bar-le-Duc celebrates its most ingenious child with a sculpture: Pierre Michaux who, by adapting a crank to the front wheel of a draisienne, became the first manufacturer of the "pedal cycle" in 1862. However, the homeland of the father of the bicycle had to wait until 2001 to welcome the Tour de France, on the big gear from Verdun, with the arrival of a memorable team time trial won by the Crédit Agricole team and its Yellow Jersey Stuart O'Grady.
Bar-le-Duc also saw Ethan Vernon win the 2021 Tour de l'Avenir.
It is up to the women to pay tribute to the man who created their strange machines. One of the best French track riders of the 1990s, Magali Humbert-Faure, twice medallist at the world track championships, was born in Bar-le-Duc fifty years ago.

© Ville de Bar le Duc
Magali Humbert-Faure à gauche lors des Championnats de france sur piste en 2000 © Pressesports/Bernard Papon


Renaissance district
Bar-le-Duc is home to a district in the upper town considered as "one of the most remarkable Renaissance-style urban ensembles in France". The numerous residences and private mansions have rich facades decorated with sculpted pediments, fluted pilasters and overhanging gargoyles.
Place Saint-Pierre, which is overlooked by the church of Saint-Etienne, is the heart of this district. Hôtel de Florainville, built in the 17th century, now houses the courthouse after having served as the seat of the municipality, and the beautiful building at number 29 is used by the Labour Court. Opposite, the Carmelite convent founded in 1633 has been used as a prison since the Revolution. The eastern side of the square has some fine buildings, four of which are listed. The facades mix ancient styles (Roman and Greek) with the Italian style. On the other side, the houses bear traces of old arcades, testifying to the economic past of the place.

Castle of the Dukes of Bar
Construction: 10th to 16th century
Style: Renaissance.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1981.
History: in the 10th century, the Duke of Upper Lorraine, Frederick I, seeking protection from the Counts of Champagne, built a fortress on Mount Bar, overlooking the left bank of the Ornain. In the 13th century, the Counts of Bar established their court at the castle. In the 15th century, under the Duke of Bar and Lorraine René II, the castle was embellished and became a richly furnished residence. From 1491 until his death in 1509, René II was obliged to live in Bar-le-Duc because his ducal castle in Nancy was under construction. During his stay, he restored the old castle and in 1499, near the Romanesque gate called the Belle Porte, he had a vaulted stone room built to house the Treasury of the Charters of Lorraine. In 1567, Duke Charles III had a new castle built in the flamboyant Gothic style in the inner courtyard, the Neuf-Castel, where the duchy's Chamber of Accounts was installed. The castle was abandoned in the 17th century and only the Neuf-Castel was preserved.
Current destination: the Neuf-Castel houses the Barrois Museum (fine arts, heritage), which has been awarded the Musée de France label.

Prefecture of Meuse
Construction: 17th to 20th century
Style: classical and neo-classical.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1992.
History: The building has its origins in the Antonist commandery, built in the 17th century, of which a garden façade remains. In 1821, the neoclassical street façade was added. The building was further extended between 1904 and 1908.
Current destination: it is the prefecture hotel of the Meuse department.

Hotel de Florainville
Construction: 16th to 20th century
Style: Renaissance.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1992.
Characteristics: it is made of Savonnières stone like most of the mansions in the square with a four-sided slate roof. On the square, its facade is on three floors, each with its own particular style, one floor in the attic with arched windows under the roof. Balconies, with wrought iron railings, on brackets with five large windows on the first floor and mullioned windows on the ground floor where a large double staircase opens up.
History: The building was originally built for the de Florainville family and in 1794 it was the seat of the municipality, which then housed its museum. It then became the seat of the court of first instance before being the seat of the criminal court.
Current use: it houses the Meuse Criminal Court.

St. Etienne's Collegiate Church
Construction: 1315 to 1630
Style: Flamboyant Gothic.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1889.
Characteristics: The church is 43-metres long, 20-metres wide and 12-metres high. The facade is in the flamboyant Gothic style, but with characteristic Renaissance elements. The church of St. Etienne has 52 objects listed as historical monuments.
History: the collegiate church of Saint-Pierre was built between 1315 and 1630 in a flamboyant Gothic style with some characteristic Renaissance elements. At the end of the 18th century, it merged with the other collegiate church in the town, Saint-Maxe from the Catsle of the Dukes of Bar, which had been destroyed. After the Revolution, the collegiate church became the church of Saint-Etienne
Special features: The church houses two major works by Lorraine sculptor Ligier Richier: the Transi of René de Chalon and the Christ on the Cross between the two thieves. It also contains a statue of Notre-Dame du Guet, protector of the city, and a painting of the Crucifixion with the castle of the Dukes of Bar in the background.

Notre-Dame Church
Construction: 11th to 18th century.
Style: Romanesque and Gothic.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1981.
Characteristics: Built and remodelled over several centuries, between the 11th and 18th centuries, the church is a combination of several architectural styles. The oldest religious building in the town, it was also its only parish church until 1787.
History: In 1088, the Countess of Bar, Sophie, founded the Benedictine priory of Notre-Dame, which depended on the rich abbey of Saint-Mihiel. The church was built in the 11th and 12th centuries on the plans of the abbey church of Saint-Mihiel. Remodelled in the Gothic style in the 13th century, it lost its two towers in the 18th century, replaced by a bell tower-porch.
Special features: the Church of Notre-Dame has 51 listed objects, including 18 paintings and 11 sculptures.

© Creative Commons 3.0/Ji-Elle
© Creative Commons 3.0/GFreihalter
© Creative Commons 3.0/Ji-Elle
© Creative Commons 3.0/Pymouss
© Creative Commons 4.0/Clemclar
Église Notre-Dame © Ville de Bar le Duc


Seeded redcurrant jam with goose feather
The gastronomic speciality of Bar-le-Duc is the seeded redcurrant jam with goose feather, known as "Bar caviar". The first mention of this recipe dates back to 1344 and its fame quickly spread to bourgeois and aristocratic circles. Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland compared the jam to "a ray of sunshine in a jar". Alfred Hitchcock would only stay in hotels that served it for breakfast. French President Raymond Poincaré introduced it to the tables of the Élysée Palace. Winston Churchill and Victor Hugo were very fond of it. Today, this jam is exported throughout the world.

Confiture de groseilles © Getty/porosolka

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