Before Paris, other cities were capitals of France in the history of our country. And one of them is located in Belgium!

Paris, city of light, city of love, capital of France… Did you know that at least this last statement hasn’t always been true? If Paris can pride itself on having been founded as early as 250 or 200 BC and thus being a twice-thousand-year-old city, it has not always been as important for the country as it is today. And for good reason: it was only in the 18th century, more precisely in 1792, that Paris was definitively designated the capital of France. Before this date, several cities succeeded one another as capital of France, which also often changed its shape and borders.

Each power in place, for hundreds of years, has taken care to define the nerve center of the country or kingdom. Which gives a fairly long list of cities that could have been considered, at one time, as the center of France. And even… beyond the borders we know today. Also, one of the cities that could be considered the country’s former capital was even located… in Belgium! You only need to jump back a few hundred years to find it.

In the 3rd century, Tournai, then called Turnacum, was a small Gallo-Roman town located in what is now Belgium. It was located on an important road linking Bavay to Cologne, which gave it a strategic position in the commercial network of the time. The archaeological remains bear witness to the Roman occupation of the region, including traces of baths, villas, and other structures typical of the period.

From the 3rd century, it attracted attention and, with the decline of the Roman Empire, Tournai was conquered by the Franks. It was at this time that the first traces of Frankish occupation appeared in the region. The Salian Franks, one of the Frankish tribes, gradually settled in the region and established their power there.

During the 5th century, Tournai became an important Frankish city under the reign of Childeric I (born around 436 and died in 481), king of the Salian Franks. He is also the father of the famous Clovis, first king of the Franks. Childeric chose Tournai as one of his administrative centers, thus reinforcing its strategic importance in the Frankish kingdom. The city thrived on commerce and crafts, benefiting from its position along the River Scheldt, which facilitated trade.

On the death of Childeric I, his father, Clovis decided to abandon Tournai as the nerve center of his country and chose… Paris, which he designated capital in 508. It was there that he died, three years later , in 2011.