Make sense of it all at the Verdun Memorial
Understand. Analyze. Reconstruct. Pass it on. At the Verdun Memorial, historians take us by the hand so that we do not forget the horrors of the Great War. Inaugurated in 2016, this completely redesigned museum tells us about the longest battle of the First World War, as seen from both sides of no-man's-land. To attract new audiences, the museum also offers theatre performances.
Explore the Verdun battlefield
In these verdant dells, it is hard to imagine the violence that shaped these green valleys. But look closer, and you will notice that even 100 years later the ground beneath your feet bears the scars of combat. Several guided tours of the battlefields are offered by the Verdun Tourist Office by bus with stops planned around the various remains.
Visit the Douaumont Ossuary
From the white crosses lined up to the engraved stones of the cloister, inside and out, symmetry plays a dizzying mortuary score at the Verdun Ossuary, built between 1920 and 1932. A moment of silence and meditation is required when the visitor enters the interior where the names of 4,000 soldiers who died in the battle of Verdun are inscribed (130,000 bodies in total lie on the site). The visit to the monument is accompanied by a documentary film and then continues with the climb to the top of the tower offering an impressive view.
Cross the trenches in the Burned Forest
Two narrow grooves on either side. Two sides facing each other. A century after the end of the Great War, all around the French and German trenches of Bois Brûlé and Croix des Redoutes, trees have grown. The hostile expanse has become a mossy forest, and your pilgrimage a bucolic walk to keep the memory alive.
Contemplation at Nauroy Chapel
The white stone chapel at Nauroy, near Reims in Champagne, is a sobering reminder that an entire village here was wiped out during the Great War and never rebuilt, with the exception of this church building. Nearby, you can also push open the door of the pretty Russian chapel of Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand and climb the steps of the Blanc-Mont, the American memorial.
Meditate in the Glade of the Armistice
In the heart of the forest of Compiègne, in the Hauts-de-France region, the clearing of Rethondes, also known as the clearing of the Armistice, was chosen for its calm and isolation. It was here that the armistice between France, its allies and Germany was signed on 11 November 1918, putting an end to the fighting of the Great War. To discover the historic wagon where the armistices of 1918 and 1940 were declared, go to the Armistice Memorial, in Compiègne.