A cultural heritage at the source of history
Former capital of the kingdom of the Franks, Soissons is often associated with Clovis I and the famous anecdote of the "vase of Soissons", taken by the soldiers of Clovis' army from a church in the diocese of Reims. The bishop of this one, very attached to this object of a great beauty and an extraordinary size, asked the king for its restitution. It is in Soissons that the soldiers had to give the vase to Clovis. But an impulsive soldier broke it with an axe. The bishop recovered the pieces of his vase all the same. Later, when Clovis summoned his army again, he recognized this insolent soldier and broke his skull. The history keeps this famous sentence: "Thus you treated the Vase of Soissons! This historical episode is represented on the Monument to the dead of Soissons, designed by the sculptor Paul-Albert Barthomolé, place Fernand Marquigny. You will also find representations of vases all over the city. Finding them becomes a real treasure hunt!
This game will lead you to discover many remarkable monuments through the streets of Soissons. This is the case of the old Saint-Médard abbey, of which only its pre-Romanesque crypt, dating from the 9th century, remains today. You will find there the ancient tombs of major historical figures such as Clotaire and Sigebert, son and grandson of Clovis
The architecture of the Saint-Gervais Saint-Protais cathedral is also particularly edifying. If you stand on its square, one element will seem to be missing... and you will be right: the north tower was never built! This does not detract from the majesty of the building. The interior, the choir of more than 800 years, the play of light created by the stained glass windows make it a real jewel of Hauts-de-France. Take advantage of the guided tours to climb to the top of its tower: the 360-degree view on the city and its surroundings is breathtaking!
Of course, you can't leave Soissons without visiting the Saint-Jean-des-Vignes abbey whose spires pierce the sky at a height of more than 75 meters! Dating back to 1076, it was first built in Romanesque style before becoming a vast Gothic complex in the 13th century. Enjoy a unique experience here: thanks to a virtual reality headset, you will be immersed in the heart of the 17th century. The abbey becomes even more majestic! Children love it! In summer, take advantage of the "Thursdays of Saint-Jean" to discover shows and concerts at the foot of the abbey. Magical! These days are also an opportunity to enjoy daily visits to the crypt and the cathedral tower
The summer season is the opportunity to discover all the points of interest of the city with your family in a fun way: a merry little tourist train runs through the streets of Soissons. An audio-guide on board will allow you to learn more during the journey. You can learn more about our heritage with a smile on your face and your hair in the wind!
Finally, it is necessary to know how to move away from the city to enjoy the small patrimonial wonders. This is the case of the dungeon of Septmonts, only 10 minutes from Soissons. For the record, Victor Hugo wrote about it in one of his letters to his wife (while he was with his mistress!) in which he mentioned his wish to buy this dungeon that he found magnificent. Take advantage of your detour to also visit the castle of Berzy-le-Sec. Looking like a mini Guédelon, the monument is restored with the techniques and means of the time by an association of the region. The result is amazing!
To discover this rich and fascinating heritage, you should not miss the event "Soissons en lumières". From April 2022, act 2 of the video-mapping will be launched. Five monuments will be illuminated at nightfall on the weekend: the former Saint-Léger abbey, the town hall, the Saint-Pierre church, the Arquebuse pavilion and the Cité de la Musique et de la Danse. To complete the experience, a mobile application will allow you to hear the voices of five narrators who will accompany you to discover the stories of this city at the heart of history
An area where it's good to recharge your batteries
The Grand-Soissons is increasingly seen as a bubble of oxygen in a green setting only 1h30 from Paris. Come and relax for a few walks
Soissons is crossed by the Aisne river and its banks offer beautiful possibilities for walks! The surroundings of Soissons are also conducive to a lively, rich and varied nature. The hiking trails, to be found at the Tourist Office, offer the possibility to discover the diversity of this beautiful natural heritage. Breathe and enjoy!
And who says stroll says picnic of course! Fill your basket with local products that you will find at the covered market (every Wednesday and Saturday morning) in Soissons or at the tourist office store which is full of sweet and savory delights. To taste: the famous Soissons beans, to be eaten as an aperitif! The tourist office team has prepared a map of picnic spots for you, for friendly moments where you can put your basket down and let the children run around and play in complete safety. What a pleasure!
The city does a lot during the summer season for its inhabitants and all those passing through the region. Numerous activities are organized there, especially nautical ones! So take advantage of the banks of the Aisne to put your towel under a parasol. Children will be able to enjoy sandboxes, giant games as well as many shows and animations. The whole family can even enjoy an ice cream and a cold drink. And for those who want to take to the sea, it is also possible to discover the river on board a boat, a canoe or a pedal boat thanks to the association Les Voiles du Soissonnais.
Around Soissons : edifying discoveries
The Grand-Soissons region is a real gateway to the region and is full of activities, points of interest and a unique cultural and natural heritage. The border territories are also an opportunity to extend your stay and make equally beautiful discoveries. In the Retz forest, discover for example the amazing tower of the Mangin observatory. On July 18, 1918, the general led a decisive offensive that allowed the front to be pushed back. After a strong storm in October 1924, the tower was destroyed and only a stele remained. It was nevertheless rebuilt, as close as possible to the original one, with its eight platforms. Its visit is edifying. With its 25 meters high at an altitude of 220 meters, the view is breathtaking on the region, the forest and the plateaus of Soissons. Nearby, don't miss the castle of Villers-Cotterêts: the only Renaissance castle in Picardy! The castle is known as the "François I" castle because it is here that the Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts was signed in 1539, making French compulsory on the whole territory, thus replacing Latin. Rehabilitated, it will soon house the Cité internationale de la langue française.
On the territory of the Val de l'Aisne this time, enjoy a little swim in the lake of Monampteuil. The Axo'Plage leisure center offers, each summer season, a multitude of activities for families: playgrounds and picnic areas, beach volleyball and petanque courts, giant water slide, etc. Everything is done to have a refreshing time!
And since the region always pleasantly mixes cultural and natural heritage, finish your visits with the Fort de Condé, a 19th century monument built on the hillside. This site, full of history, is located in a magnificent natural site. The place, which is family-oriented, offers many activities: treasure hunts, laser games, escape games... Definitely: there is no time to get bored in the Aisne!
When is the season?
The spring colors adorn this destination between valleys, plateaus and forests with a green setting essential to your disconnection! Spring will also be the occasion to discover the ambitious project "Soissons en lumières": "Wow" effect guaranteed!
To take advantage of the sun, the heat and all the aquatic and nautical activities that Soissons offers, the months of June, July and August are the most suitable.
A long weekend is ideal to discover all the natural, cultural and patrimonial treasures that this territory offers.
The region is full of small hotels, bed and breakfasts and camping sites at very reasonable prices. It is also possible to take advantage of many "nature" or "culture" activities at very reasonable prices.
The great advantage of this part of France is that it offers a wide range of activities for all tastes, whether you travel alone, as a couple or with your family, whether you are a sports, relaxation, history or culture enthusiast.
The gentle way of life: the Soissonnais Valois area is a region where life is good and where you can take your time.
The welcome : people will never be reluctant to give you a hand if you are lost, to explain a historical aspect or the making of a product.
Accessibility: the Soissonnais Valois territory is located at a stone's throw from Paris. By train or by car, you can very easily take advantage of all the richness of the territory for a small day out of the capital, just to recharge your batteries!
For the more festive ones, don't expect to be able to party until the end of the night outside of Soissons.
How to get there
By train. The TER network connects Paris to Soissons every day. It is then possible to rent a car at the Soissons train station to get out of the city or to book a TAD (Transport à la demande) via the Transports Urbains Soissonnais network.
By car. Via the A1 and the N2. A trip by car will only take about an hour once you leave the capital. Smart tip: think about carpooling!
OFFICE DE TOURISME DU GRANDSOISSONS - More information on the site
16, place Fernand Marquigny 02200 Soissons
Tel : 03 23 53 17 37