Since 2020, viewers can vote to nominate their favorite monument during a television show. The favorite monument of the Frenchpresented by Stéphane Bern and broadcast on France 3, revealed the winners for the year 2023.
Among the fourteen sites selected, it was the fortified castle of Sedan, in the Ardennes (Grand-Est) which came first. Built in 1424 on the initiative of Lord Evrard III de la Marck, this medieval fortress is a summary of military architecture from the 15th to the 19th century. The largest fortified castle in Europe, this “reputedly impregnable colossus » has an area of 35,000 square meters spread over seven levels. Sold for a symbolic euro by the army to the City of Sedan in 1962, it has been classified as a Historic Monument since 1965.
The fortified castle of Sedan is followed by what remains of the abbey of Cluny in Burgundy-Franche-Comte (Saône-et-Loire). Founded in 910 by William the Pious, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Mâcon, Cluny Abbey was the center of the reform of the Benedictine rule. The abbey houses the remains of a Romanesque church – destroyed during the French Revolution – which was, between the 12th and 16th centuries, the largest in Western Christendom. Classified as a Historic Monument in 1862, the old abbey benefits from the European Heritage Label.
In third place in the ranking is the Chaalis estate, in Oise (Hauts-de-France). This vast 1,000 hectare estate was founded in 1137 by Louis VI le Gros. Today, it includes the ruins of the 13th century Gothic abbey church, the Sainte-Marie chapel decorated with 16th century frescoes by the Primaticcio (the “Sistine of the Oise”), as well as the place of stay of the painter and patron Nélie Jacquemart-André (1841-1912) who restored it and installed his collection of nearly 4,000 paintings, furniture and art objects there. The castle, owned by the Institut de France, will close for work in 2025.