France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Guide to Verdun, France
Verdun's name is synonymous with the great battle that happened here in World War I. Military history is the prime reason to visit.

 


 

 

 

Verdun, 121 km (75 miles) east of Reims and 70 km (44 miles) west of Metz (map), is a small city on the Meuse River.

At first glance, it's not evident that this pretty place was the most heavily-fortified town in France at the beginning of World War I, supposedly ready for any attack from Germany. After you have been here a little while, however, you will notice remains of some of the 53 fortifications constructed in and around the city.

Battle of Verdun

On the morning of February 21, 1916, Verdun awoke to an intense artillery bombardment, followed by attacks from wave upon wave of German troops. The German attacks and French counter-attacks turned the battlefield into what combattants termed "the furnace," a killing-ground of unimaginable horror.

It went on for months, through the beginning of July, 1916, by which time nearly a quarter of a million men had been killed or wounded.

The equally horrific Battle of the Somme near Amiens to the west drew some German troops away from Verdun, but the battle here did not end until the end of the year—11 months of constant killing and destruction.

What to See & Do

In the pleasant city you find today are numerous monuments and memorials to the violent past, with many more in the surrounding countryside, making Verdun a good base for visiting them. But don't forget to enjoy the city, which is pleasant and welcoming.

Prime among the monuments is the Ossuaire de Douaumont, on a hill 9 km (5.6 miles) northeast of Verdun, with the French National Cemetery on the slopes below. Recovery of remains continues to this day, with those found being placed in the ossuary.

The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial holds the graves and names of more than 14,000 American troops who died here in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during the last months of the war in 1918. The Montfaucon American Monument is on a hilltop a few miles away.

The Consenvoye German War Cemetery holds over 11,000 graves of German soldiers killed in World War I. The pitiful irony here is that this area incudes graves from the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), World War I, and World War II.

Transportation

Car is the easiest way to reach Verdun, but there are TGV trains via the Gare Meuse TGV (map) as well. More...

Where to Stay

Verdun has a few hotels, but most of its lodging is in chambres d'hôte (bed-and breakfast houses). More...


Hotels in Verdun

What to See & Do

Transport for Verdun

Tourist Information

About Alsace

Champagne-Ardenne

Northern France

 

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Victory Monument, Verdun, France

Victory Monument, Verdun, France.

 

 

 

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