Investigating Rocroi

Preparations for staging the Battle of Rocroi continue despite the fact that I am away from the painting table for a few days in northern France.

I took the opportunity of a free day to visit Rocroi and what a delight it was!


Rocroi is the best preserved 16th/17th Century walled town I have ever visited. Most of the five-bastion star fortifications are still in tact and it is possible to walk all around them as well as exploring some interior sections.


The interior street layout is as it was in the 17th century and most of the buildings have been restored or rebuilt in the style of that time.


The strategic importance of Rocroi is immediately evident as you approach it from Belgium (then the Spanish Netherlands) just a few kms to the north. The Belgian side of the border is very hilly and is still heavily forested. Descending into France the terrain opens out into a gentle rolling plain with Rocroi guarding the approach to Paris.


There is an excellent little museum which concentrates on the 1643 Battle of Rocroi, including an excellent model of the fortified town (including 17th - 18th Century additions) and a good film explaining the various stages of the battle.


Of great interest were the various excellent dioramas done with 28mm figures.


And especially the grand diorama of the initial deployment with detail of all the units involved. I still have a few more figures to paint up if I am to equal this!

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