Sunday, March 20, 2016

Rodemack, la Petite Carcassonne Lorraine

Sonndeg, 20 Mäerz.

If you know anything about me and my travels in Francophone Europe, you know that there is nothing that I love better than a picturesque village. Cosmopolitan cities and sweeping seascapes are all fine and dandy, but there is nothing that warms my heart more than a tiny, historic village perched on the side of a cliff or nestled in a quiet valley. And while Europe seems to be full of such lovely little spots, it is the Plus Beaux Villages de France that hold a special place in my heart. So imagine my delight when I discovered that Rodemack, one of France's 153 most beautiful villages, was located just a stone's throw from the Luxembourgish border!

Today we took advantage of a free afternoon -- and dry, if not particularly sunny, weather -- to make the thirty minute drive from Esch-sur-Alzette to Rodemack and see what this little village had to offer.

Nicknamed la Petite Carcassonne Lorraine (after the walled city of Carcassonne in the south of France), Rodemack is a medieval village located just six kilometers from the France-Luxembourg border.

The site has been occupied since Roman times; it was located on the road linking the Roman settlements in modern-day Metz and Trier. However, it was not until the twelfth century that Arnoux I -- a vassal of the Count of Luxembourg -- seized the territory surrounding Rodemack from the Catholic Church and built a castle. The lords of Rodemack expanded their territory throughout the Middle Ages, only to lose it all in the late fifteenth century. Over the next several hundred years, the walled city changed hands repeatedly, belonging -- among others -- to the French, Spanish, and Prussians -- before being purchased in the 1860s. Today, the town and the remains of its castle are the property of the Communauté de Communes de Cattenom et Environ, which is in the midst of a ten-year reconstruction project. (Want to learn more about the history of Rodemack? Check out the town's official website.)

Above, Rachel and I pose in front of the Porte de Sierck. Although this gateway seems ancient (and was, in fact, originally constructed in the Middle Ages), the current version was only completed in the 1980s. The original gate was destroyed in 1944, when the road needed to be widened to accommodate arriving American tanks. (Whoops!)

The castle itself, pictured below, is even more of a mystery. Although part of the former château fort is visible, the majority of the grounds are closed and currently under construction. After doing a little digging, I've learned that the castle is currently undergoing a 21 million euro face lift that will allow researchers to learn more about its history and to restore it for future visitors. (Curious about this project? Check out this post from Groupe BLE Lorraine or this article from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research, both in French.)

Although the restoration is not due to be finished until 2018, we enjoyed catching glimpses of the castle and ongoing construction from behind the walls. (I was on my tippy toes, but Vicky and Rachel had a bit of an easier time with this.) Since returning home, I've managed to track down a virtual visit of the city and castle that gives a more accurate sense of what it is like inside the castle walls.

But the main attraction of Rodemack is not, luckily, the out-of-commission castle. We had a wonderful time exploring the town's narrow streets and photographing the brightly-painted shutters and doors of all the historic homes!


Practical storage ... or an artistic choice?

Even today, the majority of historic Rodemack stands behind the large city walls and it is possible to walk all the way around the exterior. Near the Porte de Sieck, we were even able to climb up and walk along the ramparts -- what a lovely view!

You can't miss those bright blue shutters!

There were so many adorable homes, each with its own adorable personality. The village was so cute that even the abandoned, crumbling barns were photo-worthy!


A cemetery in which I counted no fewer than six Elisabeths, without even looking. Eek!

Apparently, today is the first day of spring. Unfortunately, no one has told Luxembourg. (Or Rodemack.) Although we enjoyed a little bit of warm weather at the end of last week, the temperatures have again dropped to scarf-and-glove weather.

Still, signs of spring were present in Rodemack: from the light pink buds on the trees to the blooming daffodils in the window boxes. We enjoyed exploring the still-dormant jardin médiéval, which has been restored to resemble a real medieval garden, complete with flowers, herbs, and even plants prized for their medicinal powers.

Looks like spring has sprung after all! Let's keep our fingers crossed that the temperature gets the message sometime soon... ;)


  1. What a beaux village indeed! So happy you found it. Maybe you and I can go together when spring is ending.

    1. Yes! But if you come visit in the spring, I think that there might be some even more lovely places that we can go. :)

  2. Superbe ma jolie! Nous avons le meme printemps que toi: frisquet, frisquet...

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