In the early Middle Ages, Marche was just a little hamlet on the Marchette brook, one of the dependencies of the nearby Abbey of Stavelot. In the 12th century, this territory was made part of the County of La Roche. It was ideally located, on the main road between Namur and Luxembourg, and quickly evolved into a town, which obtained its charter in the 13th century. At the end of the century, in true medieval fashion, it acquired a complete system of defensive walls, with two gates, a series of watchtowers, and a keep. The market place and religious organizations, such as the Carmes convent founded in 1473, could thrive inside the closed city.
The castle and defensive walls were dismantled at the end of the 17th century on the orders of Louis XIV. A century later, the French Revolutionary troops entered the city and closed the convent. Today, with its schools, light industries, military complex, and tourist attractions, Marche is a vibrant regional centre.
The city centre includes a few interesting buildings, such as the St Remacle church and the old Carmes convent.
The city is the home of several museums, including a lace museum, which is housed in one of the last remnants of the city’s medieval walls and commemorates the hundreds of lace workers that lived in the Marche area in the 18th century.
The Famenne museum gives a good overview of the region’s art and history.
The Grosse Biesse (Great Beast) carnival takes place every year in February. It features the beast, as well as the city’s mascot Gugusse, traditional giants, and several other groups of joyful characters.
A folkloric group called La Plovinette (Fine Drizzle) specializes in traditional Walloon dancing.