“They remind us that, millions of years ago, Laon was under water. Later, development of the town would be directly connected to the local vineyards, and also to the quarries dug far into the depths of the mountain. That’s where the stones for the cathedral, Notre-Dame de Laon, came from!” explains Lucie, our guide-lecturer
Along the way are Gallo-Roman grain silos, dungeons in the mediaeval belfry, and the highlight, a magnificent succession of illuminated archways, leading off as far as you can see. A magnificent underground cathedral. “It’s a line of fire between two of the citadel bulwarks. Behind each arch was a casemate where soldiers were stationed, ready to defend their fortress.”
After passing through the powder magazine, the tunnel leads up to the top of the citadel. The view is breath-taking. Situated on the top of a hill, the cathedral overlooks the whole surrounding area. In the distance you can make out the ridge between the Ailette valley, the Aisne valley and the Chemin des Dames, a critical location for the First World War.