Explore the vestiges of the First World War

« Western Front 14-18 » commemorates the Centennial of the First World War from the Vosges Front to Nord Pas de Calais, all the way through Lorraine, Champagne and Picardy. All year long across the country, you will find shows, concerts, exhibitions, museum openings, new guided visits paying tribute to the soldiers. On April 6, 1917, the United States entered the war, joining forces with more than 40 other nations fighting in France and other countries. From all over the world, millions of men united in the defense of freedom, a noble cause that transcended the horrors of war. We are here to remember them.

Atout France: Describe your favorite site linked to the Western Front theme

Christelle Clément: The Franco-American Museum at the Château of Blérancourt (External link) is my favorite site linked to the Western Front theme.You can take an exceptional tour of the Château de Blérancourt and learn about the work of Anne Morgan, the founder of the American Committee for Devastated France. For more than eight years and with the help of some 350 American volunteers, she helped rebuild our region through a number of actions including the creation of a health-visitor service, supplying provisions, reading to the public, providing homes and gardens for children, and setting up scout camps. Five centers were thus founded in the vicinity of Blérancourt. Now, the museum is undergoing renovations and will reopen to the public during the second half of 2016. In the meantime, you can discover the different centers thanks to a free app, visit the Anne Morgan Pavilion, the library, and free gardens.

AF: If you only had 24 hours to do a Western Front themed tour, where would you stop to eat and drink?

C.C.: If I only had 24 hours to do a Western Front themed tour, I would stop on the Champagne Tourist Route where the 2nd battle of the Marne took place and where American troops were involved. My two favorite hotel-restaurants are :

-Château de Fère-en-Tardenois (External link) , a lovely 5* hotel nested in a Renaissance château and located next to the medieval Château of Fère-en-Tardenois. Meals offered at the restaurant are just amazing and mixed traditional recipes with contemporary ones. I love tasting the foie gras, the lobster, and the wonderful cheeses platter.

- I also love the Auberge Le Relais at Reuilly-Sauvigny (External link) , a very nice one-star Michelin rated inn, located in the vineyards of Champagne in a small picturesque village. Rooms are nicely decorated and the meals proposed at the inn are delicious. Fish is finely prepared ; the deserts are all so good that it’s difficult for me to choose the best ones!

Both hotels are located in the Aisne county, not far away from Reims. Verdun and the Somme county are both easily accessible from these hotels.

AF: What is the best time to plan a Western Front themed tour and why?

C.C.: The Western Front is located in Northern France from the Vosges front to Nord Pas de Calais, running through Lorraine, Champagne and Picardy. So, obviously I would say that spring and summer are the best times to plan a tour. Anyway, all the main sites such as WW1 museums and cemeteries are open all year round and are easily accessible. In the wintertime, on the front line, you do feel the atmosphere, and get a sense of the soldiers’ pain and sufferings, especially in Verdun’s trenches or on the Chemin des Dames. The cemeteries are well-kept and open for free to public all year round. You can pay tribute to the soldiers in visiting for example Meuse-Argonne, Aisne-Marne, Oise-Aisne or Somme American cemetery.

For more information, please contact:

Christelle Clément

Aisne Marne Western Front

c.clement@aisne-tourisme.com (External link)

+ 33 (0) 3 23 27 76 77