Verdun, memories of WWI

On a nice spring Sunday in the Paris area lets talk about a monumental city in symbolism if small in size, Verdun.  It is a city department of the Meuse, no 55 in the region of Lorraine in eastern France. The autoroute A4 will take you there from Paris, and parking along the river Meuse is easy, nice, and free at 8 Mai 1945.. The route planner can help you further or you can ask me, www.viamichelin.co.uk

The city is very easy to walk on and best, however, if need to move by public transport the local bus system TIV can help webpage at  http://www.bus-tiv.com/ . you can connect by bus from Metz,Nancy and Chalons sur Champagne on the line 30. The TER Lorraine site will tell  you about trains; you can make trips from Paris Gare de l’Est towards Nancy change to regular trains to Verdun. Can be done according to the site in about 1h35 as I always go by car ::) TER webpage http://www.ter-sncf.com/regions/lorraine/fr/default.aspx

Verdun is a city that can trace back for 2000 years, the Treaty of Verdun of 843AD for most historians mark the starting point of what we know of Europe today , this is where if I can interject a bit of history here , the sons of king Louis le Pieux (himself son of Charlemagne) the Charles le Chauve or bold became king of western Francia with limits to the east of the Rhone river, Saone, Meuse rivers.  Louis le Germanique or German, became the king of eastern Francia beyond the Rhine river, and Lothar was given the two capitals of Rome and Aix a long line of territory  brought together by the river Frise in the Jura region including the Burgundy and Italy. However, after that the ones that really made Verdun on the map was after been given the name of Universal City, is the WWI Battle of Verdun in 1916. The war really began here in 1914,  the Battle of Verdun was not only the it but also the Battle of France, for 300 days and nights close to 2,5 millions French soldiers fought here, that is two thirds of the entire armed forces of France .

Here on February 21 1916 one of the biggest if not the biggest battles in history took place. Bombing began by 8h15.  In this carnage, 163 000 French and 143 000 Germans lost their life, with 216 000 French and 196 000 Germans wounded!!!  For reinforcements from the town of  Baudonvillers and  Bar-le-Duc, a line of trucks were put in service to continue on to Verdun ,this route was later baptised the   « Voie Sacrée » or sacred road.  Nearly  1 500 trucks took this route daily so Verdun was not left alone, 2 500 000  French soldiers took the tour at this route during this conflict alone. 

On September 12(my b-day!)  ,1918 The First Army of the USA enters the conflict in this area led by General Pershing (He who upon touching French soil hail the famous words “Lafayette ,We are Here” ) ,and they take position at the salt mines of Saint-Mihiel with the help of the 2nd French Colonial Corp. On September 22nd, Pershing has its HQ at Souilly. By September 26 in the area of Argonne that Americans and French fight shoulder to shoulder as well as reaching Verdun  ;by October 10 the Argonne is completely liberated, on the river Meuse right bank  17th French Army Corp and two American divisions march on towards Damvillers. The Americans cross the river Meuse first by Stenay, the enemy retreats and they will never entered Verdun!!! You have the picture?

To see you can visit the Cathedral Notre Dame (B. 10C-18C)  , however, for me there was to stop by the Memorial Centre Mondiale de la Paix (World Center of Peace) right in the palais episcopal  design in 1723 by  Robert de Cotte, architect of the king, it is by the Cathedral and only 5€ admission, and the Monument à la Victoire (Monument to the Victory) with 73 steps right from the esplanade bordering the river Meuse, there you will see the book of gold showing those who have won medals of honor for their valor in the battle, moving niche between a rocky hill.

I pass by here so once in a while take the time to stop by even for lunch and see this memorable place.Thank you to all. There is so much to see need more time, like the Ossuarie de Douaumont (keeping the remains of millions) and in front a French cementary of 15000 soldiers. Memorial de Verdun, in the train station of the village of  Fleury-devant-Douaumont,one of the towns destroyed in the conflict sitting right in the battlefield and built by the Veterans group themselves.  Tranchés des Baionnettes tells the story on June 12 1916 of the 137th  Infantery Regiment isolated with an intensive bombardment in a trench . The only witness were bayonnetes coming out of the ground!  Fort de Vaux, showcase the heroisme of the French soldiers in resisting attacks by superior forces. See the Citadelle Souterraine or underground citadel, the HQ of the French army was kept here, a virtual city of support to the front. Here on September 13, 1916 ,Verdun received the decoration of the Légion d’Honneur, the Croix de Guerre ,and  six other decorations from allied powers and Verdun  becomes the most condecorated city in all of France. Here too on November 10, 1920 after the peace at Rethondes the chosen wounded soldier  Auguste Thin of the  132th Infantery Regiment was the given the task to choose amongst eight coffins dress with the French flag the body of a French soldier found in the eight battlefields around WWI.  Armed with a simple bouquet of  flowers he was to choose one, to be  buried at the Paris Arc de Triomphe in memory of all those fallen in combat. Slowly  Auguste Thin  chooses one after adding the digits number of his regiment and choose the Sixth coffin , the Unknown Soldier tradition was born here!

Passing by hotels were not never use, although been a very visited town there are choices for all budgets. The Hostellerie du Coq Hardi in city center looks very nice . For eating I did so at La Péniche, quai de la Republique near the river, traditional Lorraine cuisine ,very nice formule and the st jacques in whisky is yummy! plus a very nice lounge with wonderful views of the town ,webpage http://www.la-peniche.com/portal/web/lapeniche/accueil/index.html

At nearby Stenay there is a nice beer museum type small but very nice if you are into beers of the Meuse Musée de la biére, webpage here http://www.musee-de-la-biere.com/ , and right in Verdun do try the Dragées de Verdun (sweet made of almond and chocolates now of many things traditional all over France but the ones here are at the top of the ladder ) at établissement Braquier, recipe from 1220AD, and the firm done from 1921, webpage http://www.dragees-braquier.com/

Hope you stop by its a wonderful place, I myself will definitively be back. I need more photos Lol!!!Cheers

2 Comments to “Verdun, memories of WWI”

  1. My grandfather fought in Verdun. Fortunately he was in the artillery and survived.

    Like

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