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66km (41 miles) E of Paris; 82km (51 miles) SW of Reims

The little town of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre and the village of Jouarre are twin communities -- you can't tell where one ends and the other begins. Although La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, which took its name from a now-gone 10th-century fortress, played a role in French history, it is of little interest today and is worth a visit chiefly for the lodging at Château des Bondons.

In the village of Jouarre, 3km (1 3/4 miles) south of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, you can visit a 12th-century Benedictine abbey and explore one of the oldest crypts in France. At the Tour et Crypt de l'Abbaye de Jouarre, 6 rue Montmorin (tel. 01-60-22-64-54), those interested in medieval history will appreciate the documents referring to the Royal Abbey of Jouarre as well as the stones in the Merovingian crypt, which evoke the 7th century. There's also a collection of prehistoric artifacts, remnants of the Roman occupation, and sculptural fragments. Each of these monuments is a medieval treasure. Entrance to the crypt costs 4.50€ for adults and 4€ for students and children 17 and under. Entrance to the tower is included. One floor above the crypt, a small-scale museum, Musée Briard, showcases the medieval history of the region of Brie. Entrance to the museum costs 2.50€ for adults and 2€ for children.

The crypt is the star of the three attractions, the tower somewhat less famous and evocative. All three sites are open Wednesday to Monday but can only be visited on guided tours, lasting 30 to 45 minutes. From April to October tours leave every hour on the hour from 10:15am to 5:15pm.