Restoration of quays in the historic centre of Givet (Ardennes, France)
Givet Town Council
Mickaël Surhomme (Paysages d'ici et d'ailleurs)
Photos: © Mickael Surhomme
No less than 4,800 m2 of clay paving and 8,000 m2 of asphalt pavement and roads were necessary to transform a public space originally used by cars into a pleasant area for all sorts of people and passers-by.
Needless to say the building site covered quite an area. In fact, it extended across two urban areas which are quite inseparable: Place Sourdille and the quayside along the river Meuse.
La Place Sourdille lies at the gateway to the town and at the foot of Fort Charlemont, where some fine examples of architecture can be found, including the Cinema Le Manège with the new adjoining church square. For tourists and many living in Givet the quayside along the Meuse is a great place to get together and have a nice walk.
The aim of the work was to redesign the quayside, making it more attractive to become Givet's new calling card. At the same time it was necessary to create a decent area for parking which did not detract from its local surroundings. One of the main problems was the local road (B-road), which passes through. The terraces of cafés and restaurants were located along the road, which was not particularly safe. Also, parked vehicles blocked the view over the Meuse.
A strong concept was sought and found, based upon changing the road to create a real public pedestrian area along the water. The materials used were clay pavers and bluestone, a lovely combination giving a beautiful finish.
Rows of linden trees have been replanted at Place Sourdille. Pedestrians can now stroll under the leaves along a promenade. The parking zone provides one hundred spaces, of which six are set aside especially for the disabled.
The church square with its cobbles and bluestone, which gives access to Cinema Le Manège, has been extended, making it suitable for a range of events.
The Place de la Tour Victoire is in many ways the focal point of the redesign. The road has been narrowed there, streamlining the flow of traffic. Crossings have also been added (road and footpath being at the same level) to give pedestrians plenty of room.
Anti-parking poles separate the pedestrian zone from the street. What used to look grey and sombre now looks rather colourful, even quite Provençal, thanks to the lovely warm clay pavers. The architects decided on a Decima Mahonie, a full unsanded, tumbled clay paver.
Despite being extremely narrow, even the characteristic pedestrian passageways have been treated to some new paving: Decima clay pavers with a gutter in the centre. They connect the quay with the town centre.
Once again the beauty of the quay has been restored. Tourists (mainly Belgians) and residents of Givet now flock in even greater numbers to enjoy the cosy renovated terraces. It's quite clear then that the refurbishment directly affects the local economy.
Despite their size the works were completed in just ten months, and were ready just in time for the start of the commercial season.