Sedan Architecture

17th and 18th centuries From Classicism to Rococo influences

At the start of the modern era, Sedan was made up of three village streets: Moulin, Villers and Mesnil. The town was then an independent Protestant principality.

Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne (1555-1623), the master-builder prince, gave it a face-lift by re-designing the town in a uniform way. The civil, public, religious and military monuments follow the principles of classical architecture. The Prince resumed the work of modernisation and of increasing the fortifications. This immense work took twenty years and gave the town a starry backdrop that it kept until the 19th century, when the town was downgraded.

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From the 16th to 18th centuries, Protestantism's influence on architecture was sober, despite the richness. Metalwork and gunsmiths were increasing and local industry was prospering, thanks to textiles. Sedan's factories then owned beautiful townhouses in which production, storage and living quarters were combined. The fortified surrounding wall created a lack of space in the town and so "multi-storey factories" were built.

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The architecture of the 18th century was subject to a rococo influence, where lines create curves and counter curves. The architectural language of discreet ornamentation became more eccentric, with laughing mascarons, fluted pilasters and rocaille keystones.

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Evidence from this era:

  • The Princes' Palace: combing Italian Renaissance and French Classicism, the Princes' Palace was constructed in 1613 according to plans by Samuel de Brosse, an architect of the Palais du France.
  • eglise_saint_charlesThe Church of Saint Charles: on the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, an order of the Council of State gave the Protestant Church to the Catholics, who converted it into their own Church under the guidance of the architect Robert de Cotte. His austere architecture is a mix of Protestant character and monumental expression of the classic churches.
  • maison-du-gros-chienThe Gros Chien factory: this beautiful place is comprised of several bodies of buildings around inner courtyards. The mascarons of the "Court of Heads" create its all the architectural uniqueness.

In the 19th and 20th centuries Prosperous Town, Destroyed Town, Rebuilt Town

In the 19th century, the town was prosperous, bustling with its garrisons and factories. In 1822, the Place Turenne was transformed with the new Town Hall, the Palace of Justice and the statue of Turenne by the sculptor Edmée Gois.

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The fortifications that had protected Sedan for five centuries disappeared and the old military area became a modern town. A station was opened in 1884, and it was connected to the town centre by the Avenue Philippoteaux, which was comprised of factories and townhouses.

Part demolished during the Second World War, Sedan was rebuilt by the architect De Mailly, who avoided the town-planning of the old centre. Its herringbone buildings and colonnades are characteristics of this reconstruction.

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Evidence from this era:

  • The Turenne school: built in 1883 by the architect Depaquit as a continuation of the School of the Jesuites. The building forms a harmonious unit combining the architectural practices of the 17the century of the Princes' Palace (cut stones in vermiculated stonework). In 1884, Gustave Deloye, from Sedan, sculpted a low relief on the facade depicting Turenne as a child, sleeping on a gun carriage.
  • temple-protestantThe Protestant Church built in 1893 by the architect Couty in a Roman-Byzantine style, which was very popular at the end of the 19th century.
  • "Les Peignes" Buildings: After being bombarded in 1940, a whole part of Sedan was rebuilt in the 1950s under Jean de Mailly who won the grand prix in Rome in 1945, and was known for being one of the three architects of the CNIT arch at La Défense. This reconstruction, inspired by the "Sedan rising from the ashes" sculpture in Place Alsace-Lorraine, observes the main characteristics of traditional dwellings.
    On the other hand, Jean de Mailly allowed himself more liberty with the three buildings placed in a row between the street and the canal, known as "Les Peignes" (The Combs). The ground floors on stilts, the sloping roofs, the more extensive use of concrete, the different facing balconies and an innovative internal lighting system are products of stylistic and formal research which make these buildings remarkable examples of 20th century architecture.

From 1950 to Present Day: Protect, Renew, and Build for the Future

In the 1970s, new districts were built in the suburbs. The Monastery of the Capucins was completely demolished in 1965 to make way for a set of towers called "Résidences Ardennes". Around 1980, the amphitheatre and multimedia library were built. In 2000, a new football stadium with 23,183 places was built.

The Town of Sedan is currently undertaking a renovation of the town-planning of the new districts of Torcy-Cités and Le Lac with the support of the National Agency for Urban Renovation.