Edit Blog Post
Published: July 15th 2015
Metz to Verdun
Prussian memorial on the roadside between Metz and Verdun.
Sunday 12 July 2015
Our visit to Metz did not disappoint us. After a full day of sightseeing it was time to move on. Our plan for today was to visit Verdun on our way to Reims. The day started cooler than we have felt for a while but there is no hint of rain. A few days ago rain had been forecast but there is no sign of rain as we start off on today's journey.
Heading northwest we pass through wide open fields of grain which are now starting to be harvested. It certainly looks to be a good year. Not long after we left Metz we came across a roadside memorial. We made a quick detour and discovered a German memorial to soldiers killed in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War. Beside the memorial are four markers identifying the location of buried remains of both German and French soldiers. This part of France must have been fought over for centuries. What terrible stories the land could tell.
We make a few detours and find German war cemeteries and read road side information boards informing travellers what took place in the area 100 years ago. Each village has
Metz to Verdun
Typical countryside - grain everywhere.
its memorial to the victims of the 1914-18 conflict, some of whom were civilians.
Approaching Verdun we detour into a large wooded hilly area. It was here that hundreds of thousands of young men lost their lives. Our first stop was at the Verdun Memorial. The building is in the process of renovations in preparation for remembrance celebrations in February 2016. We drove on to the French Memorial. This is the official WW1 French Memorial site with over 16,000 known soldiers buried here with a vast number more who have no known graves. The Ossuary contains the remains of an unknown number of victims, French and German. Whenever remains are uncovered in the area they are added to those already there. What a quiet place. Photos inside the building are prohibited and strictly policed. We notice a sign on the roads leading to the site forbidding a range of activities including eating food. We left the area for our lunch and returned.
Before 1916 there were many villages in the district. Today there are none. We stopped briefly and walked along what would have been the main street of a village surrounded by deep craters and markers identifying
French machine gun emplacement.
what buildings stood on the site. Today the village still exists in name only and a mayor is always appointed. What it must have been like for the residents of Fleury avant Douamont and other villages as they were forced to leave their homes never to see them again.
The drive into the town of Verdun, past another large war cemetery, had us saying once again, what a waste of human life. By now we were in champagne country but where were the grapes? We came to see grapes and all we can see is hectares of grain. The villages we drive through look rather run down and in need of rejuvenation. Being a Sunday the roads are quiet and there are no people anywhere. It is like being in a time warp. Light rain started to fall as we approached Reims. Still no grapes. Is it a myth that this is champagne country? Just as well we have three nights here with some time to find out.
Tot: 0.057s; Tpl: 0.01s; cc: 11; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0327s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb