in the centre of Verdun
25 km from Gare-Meuse TGV train station with its 58-minute links to the French capital (Gare-de-l'Est). The town is also near the A4 motorway which takes 30 minutes to get to Metz-Nancy-Lorraine international airport (60 km), as well as that of Luxembourg just 80 km away. Verdun is the most heavily populated town in the French department of Meuse, in the Lorraine region, part of the new Grand-Est region of France, with almost 20,000 inhabitants and 500,000 visitors every year.
Although the town, whose name is the epitome of the First World War, was named the World Capital of Peace, Freedom and Human Rights by the UNO in 1987, tourists do not limit themselves to this duty of remembrance if the marina, which is always busy during clement weather, is anything to go by.
The centre of Verdun is predominantly composed of pedestrian streets. They are full of numerous small, original cafes and other starred restaurants, where visitors can experience the particularly rich and inventive Lorraine gastronomy.
It is known as the “house of Pope Julius II”. Tradition, in fact, recounts that it was lived in by the future Pope Julius II around 1479.
The current mansion house is not the one that Cardinal-della-Rovere stayed in as its construction or redesigning was carried out at a later date as is proved by the engraving on the inner courtyard tower “ANNO M-CCCCC-XXXIII” (year 1533). Nevertheless “IVL II PONT MAX” engraved on the entrance porch pediment acts as a reminder that the pontiff, who died 20 years earlier, had stayed in this place.
The mansion house
This impressive U-shaped, 3-storey building, with its inner courtyard and little side garden, is constructed from dressed stone, half of which is rendered, and topped with an interlocking tile roof.
The facades are interesting to look at as the openings have lost their mullions and one of the gable walls has a surprising window topped with two trilobal openings.
But the feature that takes pride of place, courtesy of its elegance, is without doubt the outstanding finely wrought porch way with its ringed columns, its scallop shells and its triangular pediment bearing the engraving, telling of the visit of the future Pope Julius II. The centre of said pediment has been hammered, probably the result of trying to remove the coat-of-arms at the time of the French Revolution. It is also flanked by chimera, one of which is very badly damaged.
A portico in the courtyard is supported on four columns with an unusual polygonal base. The facades are classified on the French supplementary historic monument list.
The house is entered via the central porch way which leads to the inner courtyard with its large flagstones.
On the right-hand side are three rooms with oak wood flooring, one of which has a marble fireplace and a wash-hand basin, a small outbuilding with a toilet and a door leading to the little side garden.
On the left-hand side are a first room with an 18th century alcove, a second room with a door leading to a vaulted cellar as well as two other rooms, one of which is a kitchen with a fireplace and stone floor tiles.
A winding, oak wood stairway in the tower provides access to the first floor. This level comprises six large rooms, with 3.52 m high ceilings. Intercommunicating with one another, they are laid out in an L-shape around the landing. Almost all have a marble fireplace and oak wood flooring. This level is completed with a kitchen and a pantry with a back stairway leading to all three levels.
This large attic, featuring exposed beams, was most certainly once used by domestic staff. There is still a spectacular Renaissance style fireplace.
This house is undeniably lucky. Cardinal-Giuliano-della-Rovere, who once stayed here, went on to become the great pope of the Renaissance period named Julius II. This current building dates from but a few decades after the famous visit. It is obviously waiting for an enterprising enthusiast of history and architecture. Restored and converted it could constitute an invaluable setting for miscellaneous projects such as an artistic activity, flats, a shop or a restaurant with the major asset of being centrally located in a much visited town. Hence the noble gateway could regain all its splendour of yesteryear.
|Land registry surface area||370 m2|
|Main building surface area||512 m2|
North & West Marne and East Aube department
Florence Fornara +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.