Verdun - Meuse Region

The Verdun area has always played an important role in the conflicts in Europe throughout history, as it is located at the crossroad of France, Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium.

From Joan of Arc to the World War I battlefields in Argonne, Verdun and St Mihiel, from King Louis the XVIth & Marie-Antoinette’s attempted flight to the Prussian wars, you will probably be amazed by the rich history of the Verdun area.

Verdun is also famous for its gastronomy and the little town built around the amazing Cathedral and along the Meuse canal is lively and pleasant for a few days stay.

5.0
Teresa & Garry
Laura and Emilie started working with us to develop a trip in July of 2020, but the trip had to be postponed because of COVID. Nonetheless they kept everything in place and made …
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 3850
Region
in Champagne, Verdun, Burgundy & Paris

Explore North-Eastern France and jump into French wines & history! Starting in Reims, capital of the Champagne region, you will learn many stories starring Joan of Arc, Marie-Antoinette and a famous widow . . . Clicquot. A private guide will make World War I history come alive, allowing you to get a comprehensive overview of the Verdun battlefields. You will bike and taste wines in Burgundy and finish your journey with flourish in Paris.

Wine Tasting Tours
Heritage & History Tours
Duration
10 days
Price
US$ 3160
Region
in Verdun, Burgundy & Loire Valley

This itinerary gives a nice overview of the center of France: the Verdun WWI battlefields, the wine and heritage of Burgundy, and ending in the Loire Valley with its gardens, castles and sweet life.

Wine Tasting Tours
Heritage & History Tours
Duration
16 days
Price
US$ 5550
Region
in Champagne, Verdun, Somme, Normandy & Paris

Many of us are related in some way to the World Wars' history : a father, uncle, grandfather, family friend, or a famous soldier we admire, who fought amongst the Allied troops on French soil. We are very happy and proud to plan itineraries for you to learn more about the history of the two World Wars of the 20th century. The below tour is a sample and we will craft your own trip based on any information you may have available or are willing to discover.

Heritage & History Tours
Duration
13 days
Price
US$ 3920
Region
in Paris, Somme, North, Verdun & Alsace

In 13 days, this tour will take you from Paris to the Somme region, and on to Lille at the Belgium border. You will then drive your way south-east to the Verdun area and the surrounding WWI sites. You will end your journey in Alsace, on the border with Germany. A great way to discover Northern France !

Heritage & History Tours
Art & Museums Tours
Verdun

How to Get to the Verdun area

Verdun is a 3hr drive from Paris and 2hr30 drive from CDG Airport. This is an easy drive on highways, and there are no main TGV high speed train lines to reach this part of France, so we do not recommend train travel to Verdun.

If you don’t feel like driving 2hr30 after landing to CDG Airport, you may also stop in Reims and the Champagne region, which is half-way between Paris and the Verdun area: a nice stop to get acquainted with French wines and then jump in World War I history in Verdun.

 

Tour the World War I sites around Verdun

While the Somme and the North regions of France have battlegrounds where soldiers from all over the world fought, the combats around Verdun involved mostly the French and the American troops for the allied forces.

  • The Battlefields with a Private guide

We have selected great English-speaking guides to take our travelers to visit Verdun's WWI battlefields today - this is highly recommended. On your own, you may not get the global overview and not fully understand what happened here between 1916 and 1918. A private guide allows you to fully immerse yourself, the time of the tour, into this exceptional period of time and history.

WWI site with a guide
Touring the World War I sites with a guide really makes a difference to better understand this part of our history - ©FJFY

 

  • Find out about relatives / ancestors

We are very happy and very interested to plan a trip based on your family’s personal history. If you have an ancestor who fought, any piece of information you could supply will help us plan your trip based on this person’s history.

 

  • Verdun's Trenches & Shell holes

While most of us think about « trenches » in Verdun, be ready for shell holes too. Trenches were built in other battlefields in the region (today, they are mainly in the woods and you need a guide to find the most interesting ones). The Verdun battle was a battle of position and soldiers would jump from a shell hole to the next – fighting daily to gain one foot of terrain at a time.

 

WWI holes in Verdun
The Shell holes are preserved as duty of rememberance. Trees are planted on purpose: they avoid erosion adn maintain the holes

  • The Verdun Memorial

This museum is an absolute must-see. We are not too keen on recommending too many museums but this one is great: the scenography is very modern and keeps visitors interested. It really helps better understand what happened.

 

Verdun – Meuse World War I Battlefields and Memorials

There are plenty of sites to visit around Verdun and we mention here only the most visited by foreign travelers. However, we can always craft an itinerary to any other site, based on your wishes.

The Argonne Sites

The Argonne forest was a difficult area to win over. By late 1917, the battles had stopped here. It was only in 1918, with the arrival of the US troops, that this area was retaken from the German army.

  • Romagne Sous Montfaucon American Cemetery

This is the largest American War cemetery in Europe with over 14,246 soldiers buried here.  This is a very moving place, with a peaceful chapel and a very informative visitor center.

Romagne Argonne American Cemetery
Argonne Cemetery in Romagne sous Montfaucon has over 14,000 graves

  • Montfaucon Memorial

It consists in a huge granite Doric column, topped with a statue symbolizing the angel of liberty. It commemorates the American victory during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during the period from September 26, 1918, to November 11, 1918, when the American First Army forced the enemy to conduct a general retreat on this front.

 

Verdun Main Battlefield Sites

About a 10-minute drive East of the town of Verdun, you will reach the Douaumont area, which concentrates the most representative sites of the battle of Verdun.

  • Douaumont Ossuary & French cemetery

The ossuary should not be missed while visiting the area. The building was built by all the allied countries and pays respect to all the soldiers (including some Germain soldiers now) who died during WWI.

Douaumont Ossuary
Laura and our guide in front of Douaumont Ossuary - ©FJFY

  • Fleury Devant Douaumont - a totally destroyed town

This town was so severely bombed that it was never rebuilt. There only remains holes on the ground and stones to remind us that there was a school, houses, a farm, a post office and a city hall.

Just down the road, you will find the Verdun Memorial Museum which is an absolute must-do to us.

  • Douaumont Fort

It was supposed to be one of the strongest fortifications to protect Verdun. It was however easily (and rather stupidly) taken by the German forces because of a miscommunication within the French army (officers were not expecting the Germans to attack there so quickly).

You can visit the inside of the fort and walk on the terrace outside and better understand the geography of the region: very hilly making the battles more difficult.

 

Saint Mihiel Salient – Montsec Memorial – South of Verdun

September 16, 1918: The St. Mihiel Salient was erased by more than 550,000 American and 110,000 French soldiers who fought in the offensive.

The Memorial commemorates the reduction of the St. Mihiel Salient by the U.S. First Army, September 12-16, 1918, and operations of the U.S. Second Army, November 9-11. It also honors the combat service of other U.S. divisions in this region and in Alsace and Lorraine.

 

If you want to get a better overview of the WWI Sites in France

Also, while visiting Verdun…

You can taste the famous dragées de Verdun candies or some Mirabelle (small yellow plums) products: from the Mirabelle brandy to tarts or jam. Visit the place where they make and sell the famous Madeline de Commercy, little delicious cakes...or check out Emilie's Madeleine recipe with a short video.

madeleine cakes
Madeleines de Commercy -  ©Adam Bartoszewicz on Unsplash

Local Lorraine cheese are also worth a detour…if you like the smelly varieties.

Learn about the history of Joan of Arc in Vaucouleurs, where she was armed by the local count, only an hour and a half drive from Verdun.

Varennes in Argonne is a little town famous for an interesting historic story from the 18th century: King Louis the XVIth, Queen Marie-Antoinette and their family tried to escape in 1793 from the French Revolution but were recognized and arrested.

 

Where to stay in Verdun region

The main battlefields in the Verdun area are:

  • The Argonne, located 30 minutes west of Verdun
  • The Douaumont / Verdun battlefields, located 10 minutes from the town
  • The Saint Mihiel area, with Montsec Memorial, located about 1 hour south of Verdun

For this reason, those who want to tour the entire area should stay in Verdun, which is central and easy to find restaurants, etc.

Those who have a special interest in specific battlefields can stay closer to Argonne or to Saint Mihiel.

We have selected comfortable and convenient accommodations to cover the entire Verdun region and will be happy to plan your stay according to your wishes.

 

FAQs about Verdun

Why is Verdun so important?

Verdun was the site of the longest battle of WWI. Both sides pursued a 'war of attrition' during the First World War. This meant fighting for prolonged periods of time through a series of small-scale actions, in an attempt to gradually wear down the other side. This policy led to huge numbers of casualties, and Verdun was a prime example of this. You can visit some of the WWI battlefields and see some of the former trenches and shell holes that still exist. We recommend doing this with a private guide, who can explain the full context of what happened there.

How many days do you need in Verdun?

We recommend staying for three nights, so that you can explore the town of Verdun, and visit the Cathedral and local bars, shops and restaurants. You can also visit the main war sites at Verdun and Argonne with a private guide, and taste some delicious local products - Verdun is well-known for its gastronomy. Why not try some of the local Côte de Meuse wine too?

If you only want to see the war sites, 2 nights will be enough.

Visit other French regions

Brittany

Alsace

North

Lyon

Somme

Champagne

Normandy

Provence

Dordogne

Loire Valley

Paris

Bordeaux

Our Travelers’ Reviews

Elle
Laura and Emilie planned such a professional, authentic and fantastic trip that it has become one of my favorite vacations! Excursions, accommodations, and suggested activities were flawless -- such that the only difficult decision for us was what to select from scrumptious French cuisine. I was hesitant at first to trust an unknown online trip …
Tony
The organisation and friendliness of the places we stayed was outstanding. We travel a lot and this was a delightful experience that we can't wait to do again. I could not recommend more highly the professionalism in the booklets which are a long term reminder of a most memorable time. We travelled from NZ a long way for just two weeks but it was …
Dan
I am a planner by nature and my wife and I found that Emilie at France Just For You exceeded all of our expectations for our trip to France. The daily itineraries the restaurant recommendations things to see and even things not to see. The B&B's we stayed at were outstanding. She even planned a few surprises for us on some of our activities. Do not …

Our Travelers’ Photos

Tonia & Peter
from Canada
at the Louvre Museum in Paris
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From South Africa
In Mont Saint Michel at the border between Brittany & Normandy
Peter
from Canada
Truffle Hunting in Dordogne
Roy & Maureen
From Australia
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from the US
on the French Riviera, near Nice
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Linda
From Australia
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Gary, Barbara, Lori and Ron
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Ron
From the US
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from Canada
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