Sedan, a small, historic town in The French Ardennes, is one of several locations in Belgium and Northern France used in the filming of BBC TV’s adaptation of Les Misérables.
Victor Hugo’s novel is already well-known to modern day audiences thanks to the record-breaking musical, which has been on stage in the West End for more than 30 years and was adapted into an Oscar winning film in 2012 starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.
Andrew Davies’s adaptation, however, will feature no signing, or dancing, and will focus on the original novel to tell the tale of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert’s cat-and-mouse chase against the epic backdrop of 19th century France at a time of civil unrest.
Starring British actors Dominic West, David Oyelowo and Lily Collins in the lead roles, filming began in February. Brussels, Enghien, Namur and Ecaussines were amongst the towns and cities used as locations in Belgium, along with Limburg in The Netherlands, and Sedan in The French Ardennes.
Sedan, it was said, had been selected as one of the key locations for filming because its historic centre looks like 19thcentury Paris. Rue de l’Horloge and the castle of Sedan – the largest fortress in Northern Europe (https://www.chateau-fort-sedan.fr/en/)– were both used in the filming of the six-part series, which is being described as a “centrepiece” of BBC TV’s Christmas schedule (https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-12-03/heres-the-first-trailer-for-bbcs-les-miserables/).
Founded in 1424, the town is situated around 125 miles from Paris, and a little over 5 miles south of the border with Belgium. During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 the French Emperor Napoleon III was taken prisoner at the first Battle of Sedan along with 100,000 of his soldiers, which also resulted in the unification of Germany.
Sedan was occupied by the Germans throughout World War One; and at the outbreak of the Second World War, German troops invaded neutral Belgium before crossing the Meuse and winning the Second Battle of Sedan, which lasted from May 12-15 in 1940. This battle was key in Germany’s invasion of France, as they not only bypassed the French fortification system, The Maginot Line, but also enabled them to trap the Allied Forces that were advancing east into Belgium.
The inner circle of the castle features a luxury four-star hotel, the Hôtel Le Château Fort de Sedan (https://hotel-lechateaufort.fr/en/), where rooms are available from around £95 per night.
A new magazine-style brochure, entitled French Ardennes Inspirations, can be downloaded online http://gb.ardennes.com.