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

The North-East of France from the WWI history to the Vineyards

Region
in Champagne, Verdun, Burgundy & Paris

Explore the North-East of France and jump into French wines & History ! Starting in Reims, capital of the Champagne region, you will learn many stories including Joan of Arc, Marie-Antoinette and a famous widow...Clicquot. A private guide will make the World War 1 alive for you to get a comprehensive overview of the Verdun battlefields. You will bike and taste in Burgundy and end this journey in Paris.

Wine Tasting
Heritage & History
Duration
10 days
Price
US$ 3160

From Verdun history to the Loire castles

Region
in Verdun, Burgundy & Loire Valley

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

Wine Tasting
Heritage & History
Verdun 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 the WWI sites and 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.

 

  • Trenches & Shell holes

While most of us think about « trenches » in Verdun, be ready for shell holes : trenches were built in other battlefields in the region (today, they are mainly in the woods and you need a guide to really 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.

 

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.

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.

 

Our Travelers’ Reviews

Deidre & Kevin
Such a professional company and their attention to every detail was amazing. Car hire , French phone, tours and suggested stops were all fantastic. And the B& B’s in the country and wine districts were fabulous. The owners all very friendly and helpful as well as the accommodation being clean and beautiful. We cannot give enough praise for Emilie …
Valerie
Emilie deserves every 5 (actually I give her 10!) star review since we never dreamed our 2 week trip through the Loire, Normandy and Paris could be so perfect. One of the many steps above and beyond was arranging a full-day private tour in Normandy since my husband's uncle (who is still alive) was there on D-Day. Our guide, Noémie, knew in advance …
Anshu & Family
One of the best planned and personalised travel experiences that my family and I have ever had. From information on how to go about navigating the toll machines on the highways; a range of brilliant restaurant recommendations in every town and village that we visited; interesting daily itineraries and extremely hospitable and generous hosts at all …

Our Travelers’ Photos

Scott & Linda
From Australia
In Mont Saint Michel
Christina & her niece
from Australia
In the Wolves Sanctuary in Guéret
Yvette & David
from the US
on the French Riviera, near Nice
Amy
from the US
Enjoying a great view in Burgundy
Scott
From Australia
Making "chou" buns in the Loire Valley
Ann & Jim
From the US
In Amboise castle by the Loire river
Michele, Jacques, Nicole, Gaetan, Joanne & Keith
from Canada
In the Loire Valley
Bob & Naomi
From the US
In Monet's gardens in Giverny, Normandy
Deborah & Richard
from the US
On Omaha Beach, Normandy
Tonia & Peter
from Canada
at the Louvre Museum in Paris
Nancy & Paul
from Canada
On the French Riviera
Kathy & Mark
from the US
Truffle Hunting in Provence