Visiting the Tour Victoire at Givet, France: Medieval customs post overlooking the Meuse River
Keeping watch for centuries
The Tour Victoire (Tower of Victory) is situated in the northern French town of Givet, on the west bank of the Meuse River. This interesting structure dates from the 14th and 15th centuries and was once incorporated into part of Medieval walls which surrounded the town. In Medieval times, Givet was strategically important (indeed, its military value was tested as recently as World War Two, when German forces aimed to re-take it from the Allies during the Battle of the Bulge).
However, the Tour Victoire was not only defensive in character, but, in regard to the proximity of the Meuse River, which for many centuries has been a major, commercial route, it served as a Medieval customs post.
Built of brick and bluestone, a notable feature is the its circular design of its walls.
Givet is situated in the Ardennes department of France, which lies adjacent to the Franco-Belgian border. Interestingly, the Canton of Givet, an administrative division centred on the town, within the Charleville-Mézières arrondissement , extends deeply into the surrounding territory. The border with the former Austrian and, previously, Spanish, Netherlands is linked historically with the course of the Meuse River, with the French kings having maintained the garrison town as a strategic stronghold.
The presence of the Tour Victoire on the banks of the Meuse River at Givet is thus a reminder of the twin, economic-military projection which the French state has maintained since Medieval times along this important, European, fluvial artery. When one thus considers European economic integration, the fact is also that the lines of demarcation between European states, geographic areas and natural barriers have in some cases been delineated for centuries. (This state of affairs is maybe not as well understood as it might be by North American visitors to the Continent of Europe.)
The importance of the Tour Victoire in the history of the town of Givet is underlined by the fact of a likeness of the tower being included in the town's civic arms design.
Also worth seeing
In Givet itself, the imposing Fort Charlemont overlooks the town. Givet has some interesting ecclesiastical architecture and a striking Town Hall.
How to get there: The nearest large, international airport to Givet is Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), Belgium, to which Brussels Airlines flies from New York. Car rental is available from Brussels Airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. For any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities, please refer to appropriate consular sources.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting Rocroi, France and its walls: impressive, fortified town
- Visiting Maubeuge, France: borderland city dominated by its fortifications
- Visiting Guise, northern France: castle walls which tell a tale
- Visiting the Bayard Rock, Dinant, Belgium: where the scenic Meuse Valley, history and legend meet
- Visiting Dinant, Belgium: amazing, ecclesiastical architecture on the Meuse River
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