Thanks to Saint-Mihiel’s monastic and military past, there are some wonderful places to relax and take a stroll. Each one has its own special charms
Named after the king’s dragoons who had their barracks nearby, on the site of today’s Gendarmerie mobile complex, this promenade runs along the banks of the Meuse between the bridge (pont Patton) and the lock. It provides a great view of the river, as well as opportunities for relaxation and sport for all the family with a skate-park, fitness-park, children’s playground and boules pitch.
Located on one of the hills overlooking the town was a Capuchin friary. Although no longer in existence, its beautiful park dotted with trees is an interesting, and somewhat mysterious, place for a walk. It can be reached by one of the steep flights of steps or by a long grassy avenue. Les Capucins, as this magical spot is usually referred to, provides a breathtaking view of the town and its biodiversity is actively supported by the town’s Parks Department, notably by a mowing schedule that respects the area’s natural growth rate.
Because of its rugged environment and limestone soil, the region around Saint-Mihiel was dotted with springs that provided water not only for the town’s fountains and wash-houses but also for many other places in the vicinity. La Vierge des prés, a fountain to the east of the town on the Woinville road, is a fine example. It lies at the end of a white path several hundred metres long. Further on, at the end of the path is Le Rondeau, a small spring whose water flows into a perfectly round basin. Ideal as a place to relax and cool down, it is very popular with local people during the summer months.
Further along the Verdun road, beyond the “Ladies of Meuse” rocks and the graveyard at La Vaux Racine is the Côte Sainte Marie. Follow the path to the shooting range. After a steep climb, it takes you to a small chapel with a spring, Notre-Dame des Neiges. This is private property, open only once a year for a special Mass on 5 August.
The seven rocks on the outskirts of the town on the Verdun road are known as the “Ladies of Meuse”. The town’s fate is closely connected to them – it is said that Saint-Mihiel will continue to exist as long as the rocks do not move (Donec Moveantur)! This was a settlement in the Stone Age; nowadays it is popular with pilgrims, walkers and rock climbers.
The usual access is via Rue du Calvaire. From this street, flights of steps lead up to the first boulder in the group. It gets its name from the manmade cave containing the statue of the Entombment by local sculptor, Mangeot. A pilgrimage is held here every year on Good Friday.
The rocks are popular with climbers with various levels of skill and expertise. For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org – Map available at the tourist office.
On the Woinville road (D119), a few miles outside the town is the Fontaine des Carmes, set in delightful surroundings. As its name suggests, this was once the property of the Carmelite Order. It includes a Bavarian fountain dating from the First World War.