Last updated

La cathedrale de Laon DSC 0707.jpg
Laon and its cathedral from the southwest
Blason ville fr Laon (Aisne).svg
Coat of arms
Location of Laon
France location map-Regions and departements-2016.svg
Red pog.svg
Hauts-de-France region location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 49°33′50″N3°37′28″E / 49.5639°N 3.6244°E / 49.5639; 3.6244 Coordinates: 49°33′50″N3°37′28″E / 49.5639°N 3.6244°E / 49.5639; 3.6244
Country France
Region Hauts-de-France
Department Aisne
Arrondissement Laon
Canton Laon-1
Intercommunality Pays de Laon
  Mayor (2017-2020) Éric Delhaye
42 km2 (16 sq mi)
 (2017-01-01) [1]
  Density590/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
02408 /02000
Elevation63–183 m (207–600 ft)
(avg. 83 m or 272 ft)
Website Official website
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Laon (French pronunciation:  [lɑ̃] ) is the capital city of the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France, northern France. As of 2012 its population was 25,317.



Early history

The holy district of Laon, which rises a hundred metres above the otherwise flat Picardy plain, [2] has always held strategic importance. In the time of Julius Caesar there was a Gallic village named Bibrax where the Remis (inhabitants of the country round Reims) had to meet the onset of the confederated Belgae. [3] Whatever may have been the precise locality of that battlefield, Laon was fortified by the Romans, and successively checked the invasions of the Franks, Burgundians, Vandals, Alans and Huns. At that time it was known as Alaudanum or Lugdunum Clavatum.

Archbishop Remigius of Reims, who baptised Clovis, was born in the Laonnais, and it was he who, at the end of the fifth century, instituted the bishopric of Laon. Thenceforward Laon was one of the principal towns of the kingdom of the Franks, and the possession of it was often disputed. Charles the Bald had enriched its church with the gift of very numerous domains. In about 847 the Irish philosopher John Scotus Eriugena appeared at the court of Charles the Bald, and was appointed head of the palace school. Eriugena spent the rest of his days in France, probably at Paris and Laon. [4]

After the fall of the Carolingians, Laon took the part of Charles of Lorraine, their heir, and Hugh Capet only succeeded in making himself master of the town by the connivance of the bishop, who, in return for this service, was made second ecclesiastical peer of the kingdom.

Early in the twelfth century the communes of France set about emancipating themselves, and the history of the commune of Laon is one of the richest and most varied. Anselm of Laon's school for theology and exegesis rapidly became the most famous in Europe. The citizens had profited by a temporary absence of Bishop Gaudry to secure from his representatives a communal charter, but he, on his return, purchased from the king of France the revocation of this document, and recommenced his oppressions. The consequence was a revolt, in which the episcopal palace was burnt and the bishop and several of his partisans were put to death on 25 April 1112. The fire spread to the cathedral, and reduced it to ashes. Uneasy at the result of their victory, the rioters went into hiding outside the town, which was anew pillaged by the people of the neighbourhood, eager to avenge the death of their bishop.

Thereafter, French monarchs intervened as needed to settle disputes between the bishop and the townspeople until 1331, when the commune was abolished. In the latter stages of the 1337-1463 Hundred Years' War, Laon was captured by Philip, Duke of Burgundy; he relinquished control to his English allies, who held it until 1429 when it fell to Charles VII of France. [5] The Catholic League used the town as a base during the French Wars of Religion; it was retaken by the former Huguenot Henry IV in August 1594. [6]

Modern history

At the Revolution (1789) Laon permanently lost its rank as a bishopric. During the campaign of 1814, Napoleon tried in vain to dislodge Blücher and Bülow from it in the Battle of Laon. [7]

In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, an engineer blew up the powder magazine of the citadel at the moment when the German troops were entering the town. Many lives were lost; and the cathedral and the old episcopal palace were damaged. It surrendered to a German force on 9 September 1870. [7]

In the fall of 1914, during World War I, German forces captured the town and held it until the Allied offensive in the summer of 1918. [7]


Located in the middle of Aisne, Laon borders (from the north, clockwise) with the municipalities of Aulnois-sous-Laon, Barenton-Bugny, Chambry, Athies-sous-Laon, Bruyères-et-Montbérault, Vorges, Presles-et-Thierny, Chivy-lès-Étouvelles, Clacy-et-Thierret, Molinchart, Cerny-lès-Bucy, and Besny-et-Loizy. [8] It is 55 km (34 mi) from Reims, 131 km (81 mi) from Amiens, and 138 km (86 mi) from Paris.


Historical population


Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Laon Laon Cathedral.JPG
Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Laon
Gate of Bouvelle Court, Rue Serurier, Laon (France) Gate of Bouvelle Court, Laon, France.jpg
Gate of Bouvelle Court, Rue Serurier, Laon (France)
Rue Chatelaine Rue Chatelaine Laon.JPG
Rue Châtelaine
The funicular, view from the upper town. Picardie Laon1 tango7174.jpg
The funicular, view from the upper town.

The city contains numerous medieval buildings, including the cathedral Notre-Dame of Laon, dating mostly from the 12th and 13th centuries. The chapter-house and the cloister contain specimens of early 13th century architecture. The old episcopal palace, contiguous to the cathedral, is now used as a court-house. The front, flanked by turrets, is pierced by large pointed windows. There is also a Gothic cloister and an old chapel of two storeys, of a date anterior to the cathedral.

The church of St Martin dates from the middle of the 12th century. The old abbey buildings of the same foundation are now used as the hospital. The museum of Laon had collections of sculpture and painting. In its garden there is a chapel of the Templars belonging to the 12th century.

One of the oldest churches in the city is St John the Baptist, in the nearby neighborhood of Vaux-sous-Laon, which dates from the 11th through 13th centuries and is built in a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles.


Laon station from the upper town Gare de Laon - hauteur.JPG
Laon station from the upper town

Until August 2016, the town had the only fully automated municipal cable car system in the world, called the Poma 2000. It linked the upper town (the historical centre, located on a plateau) with the lower town, had three stations and ran on rubber tyres. In contrast, the San Francisco cable car system is manually operated, and most other automated cable car systems have restricted operations within airports and hospitals, though another automated cable car called the Minimetrò may be found in Perugia.

The town's transport company TUL (Transports Urbains Laonnois) [9] operates the local bus routes [10]

International relations

Laon is twinned with:


Laon was the birthplace of:

The cathedral, western front 2-Cathedrale de Laon.JPG
The cathedral, western front
The cathedral, interior Nef cathedrale Laon.jpg
The cathedral, interior
View from the lower city, with the cathedral in the background and St John the Baptist de Vaux in the foreground Cathedrale de Laon 14 09 2008 2.jpg
View from the lower city, with the cathedral in the background and St John the Baptist de Vaux in the foreground
Porte d'Ardon and city walls Porte d'Ardon et remparts Laon.JPG
Porte d’Ardon and city walls
St Martin's church Sint-Martinuskerk2 Laon.jpg
St Martin's church
Templars chapel Chapelle de la commanderie des Templiers de Laon DSC0242.jpg
Templars chapel
Old Abbey Church in Laon, France Old Abbey Church in Laon, France.jpg
Old Abbey Church in Laon, France
Town square, Laon, France Town square, Laon, France.jpg
Town square, Laon, France
Porte De La Cour De La Bouvelle (Medieval Architecture, XV) Gate of Bouvelle Court, Rue Serurier, Laon (France, XV).jpg
Porte De La Cour De La Bouvelle (Medieval Architecture, XV)
Centre Hospitalier de Laon, France Centre Hospitalier de Laon, France.jpg
Centre Hospitalier de Laon, France
Maison des Arts et Loisirs, Laon, France Maison des Arts et Loisirs, Laon, France.jpg
Maison des Arts et Loisirs, Laon, France

In the media

Laon is featured in the book Pursuit of Passy by David Moore Crook. Laon is also featured in the book "A Pilgrimage to Eternity" by Timothy Egan.

See also


  1. "Populations légales 2017". INSEE . Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  2. "Picardy Town Information". Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  3. Goldsworthy, Adrian (2007), Caesar: The Life of a Colossus, p. 290.
  4. "John Scotus Eriugena" in New Advent.
  5. Barker, Juliet (2010). Conquest: The English Kingdom of France 1417-1450. Abacus. p.  127. ISBN   978-0349122021.
  6. Sutherland, Nicola Mary (1982). Henry IV of France and the Politics of Religion: 1572-1596 Volume II (2002 ed.). Elm Bank. p. 535. ISBN   978-1841508467.
  7. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg  Reynolds, Francis J., ed. (1921). "Laon"  . Collier's New Encyclopedia . New York: P. F. Collier & Son Company.
  8. 74127 (x a j h) Laon on OpenStreetMap
  9. (in French) TUL official website
  10. TUL transport map of Laon Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  12. City council website

Related Research Articles

Reims Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Reims is the most populous city in the Marne department, in the Grand Est region of France. Its population in 2013 was of 182,592 in the city proper (commune) and 317,611 in the metropolitan area. The city lies 129 km (80 mi) east-northeast of Paris. Its primary river, the Vesle, is a tributary of the Aisne.

Noyon Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Noyon is a commune in the Oise department in northern France. It lies on the Oise Canal about 100 kilometers (60 mi) north of Paris.

Aisne Department of France

Aisne is a French department in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France. It is named after the river Aisne.

Picardy Region of France

Picardy is a historical territory and a former administrative region of France. Since 1 January 2016, it has been part of the new region of Hauts-de-France. It is located in the northern part of France.

Abbécourt Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Abbécourt is a French commune in the Aisne department in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Laon Cathedral Church in Hauts-de-France, France

Laon Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church located in Laon, Aisne, Hauts-de-France, France. Built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it is one of the most important and stylistically unified examples of early Gothic architecture. The church served as the cathedral of the Diocese of Laon until 1802, and has been recognized as a monument historique since 1840.

Adalberon, or Ascelin, was a French bishop and poet. He was a son of Reginar of Bastogne, and a nephew of Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims.

Vaux may refer to:

John Scotus Eriugena Irish theologian

John Scotus Eriugena or Johannes Scotus Erigena was an Irish theologian, neoplatonist philosopher, and poet. He succeeded Alcuin of York (735–804) as head of the Palace School at Aachen.

Saint Remigius French bishop and saint

Saint Remigius, French: Rémi or Rémy, was the Bishop of Reims and "Apostle of the Franks". On 25 December 496 he baptised Clovis I, King of the Franks. This baptism, leading to the conversion of the entire Frankish people to Christianity, was a momentous success for the Church and a seminal event in European history.

Attigny, Ardennes Commune in Grand Est, France

Attigny is a French commune in the Ardennes department in the Grand Est region of north-eastern France.

Arcy-Sainte-Restitue Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Arcy-Sainte-Restitue is a commune in the department of Aisne in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Athies-sous-Laon Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Athies-sous-Laon is a commune in the department of Aisne in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Aulnois-sous-Laon Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Aulnois-sous-Laon is a commune in the department of Aisne in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Autremencourt Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Autremencourt is a French commune in the department of Aisne in the Hauts-de-France region of northern France.

Bourg-et-Comin Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Bourg-et-Comin is a commune in the department of Aisne in Hauts-de-France in northern France.

Liesse-Notre-Dame Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Liesse-Notre-Dame is a commune in the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France in northern France. In the Middle Ages, the village near Laon developed around the cult of the Black Virgin, known as Notre-Dame de Liesse.

Pouilly-sur-Serre Commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Pouilly-sur-Serre is a commune in the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France in northern France with approximately 530 inhabitants. Pouilly-sur-Serre is 3 km southwest of Crécy-sur-Serre and 13 km north of Laon. The river Serre forms the northern border of the commune. Pouilly is in the middle of a huge agricultural plain, where the fields are typically used for growing vegetables and grains.

Reims Cathedral Church in France, France

Notre-Dame de Reims, known in English as Reims Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the French city of the same name. The cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is famous for being the traditional location for the coronation of the kings of France.