THE NORMANDY & WESTERN FRONT SERIES, DAY 13&14
YPRES – MALMEDY – VERDUN
The worst hotel owner in Europe. Back at The Somme we missed France’s largest cemetery and circle of remembrance. With an itinerary like ours I am surprised we haven’t had to miss more.
THE CHEF HAS SAID HE CANT DO IT. CAN YOU GO TO THE SITTING ROOM NOW.
I had made the call to take the 2.5 hour trip when we got to Champagne as we have 2 nights there but at Ypres we are only an hour away and none of us want to miss it. So we decided, get on our bike early doors and make the ‘slight detour.’
DAY 13 DAILY INFO….
- HOTEL – Hotel du Moulin 6/10
- RESTAURANT – Restaurant du Moulin 3/10
- ATTRACTIONS –
Ring of Remembrance 8/10
Cemetery &Ossuaire Notre-Dame de Lorette 8.5/10
Tyne Cot Cemetery 8/10
Passchendaele Museum 1917
In Flanders 7/10
DAY 14 DAILY INFO….
- HOTEL – Les Jardins du Mess 7.5/10
- RESTAURANT – Le Bistro d’lo Verdun 8/10 no seats
- FOOD – Monkfish
- ATTRACTIONS –
Baugnez 44 – 8/10
Malmedy Massacre Memorial
Bulge Relics Museum
Easy Company Fox holes – 7/10
Bastogne War Museum – 8/10
101st Airborne Museum
It is supposed to represent that humans are here together and should stand side by side. There is also a small cantilever at one end which represents how fragile peace can be. It was incredible to look at the list of 600,000 names and realise in order to have the name of every person killed in WW2 sketched on this memorial you would need 75 of them!
DAILY TRAVEL STATS….
- Steps – 11,000 & 8,400
- Miles covered – 301.4 miles
OSSUAIRE NOTRE-DAME DE LORETTE
The largest cemetery we visited and probably the most provoking. Over 40,000 soldiers are laid to rest here, including many unknown soldiers.
The Ossuaire, which is a memorial contains 32 coffins of soldiers killed in battles around the world, from the Algerian War to the Indochina War. There is also a small coffin sitting before these which contains the ashes of many who died at the hands of the Nazis in concentrations camps. It’s an incredibly moving place and worth the 5 hour detour. Glad we made the trip to pay our respects.
With 54 kills, Guynemer is the Allies ‘Red Barron’. Very little is actually said about this hero but now a museum sits where he was brought down, just outside of Ypres.
None of us were expecting too much but it was well worth the visit but upon arriving it was all closed.
‘Sorry because of Covid we don’t have many visitors, give me 2 minutes to turn on the lights and screens.’
Quite sad but it was a great museum, including a replica of Guynemers plane and the stories of many other famous pilots. Did you know the average expectancy of a combat pilot was only 11 days!!
TYNE COT CEMETERY
Another ‘must visit’, Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world with over 12,000 graves. It is unique in that it has kept the remains of 2 German Pillboxes. The memorial at the top end of the cemetery has the names of 35,000 service men and women who have no known grave.
BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE FACTS :
- During the 3rd battle of Ypres, 325,000 Allied died and 260,000 Germans.
- It was also known for having some of the worst conditions of the war. Many soldiers and horses drowned in the mud.
- It lasted two weeks, with 4.5 million shells fired from 3,000 guns, but again failed to destroy the heavily fortified German positions.
- The Battle of Passchendaele was the first battle to use chemical warfare, most notably mustard gas.
PASSCHENDAELE MUSEUM 1917
This museum has it all; a timeline of events, artefacts and the near perfect tunnels and trenches. This museum is well worth a visit and deserves the full 2 hours that we gave but didn’t have!
IN FLANDERS MUSEUM
Located in the Cloth Hall, the In Flanders Museum showcases the First World War with particular attention to the 3 battles around Ypres. The audio guide/self-read hybrid is a great way to experience the museum and means you aren’t having to constantly decide between reading or listening as it is very possible to do either.
HOTEL DU MOULIN
It’s reasonable to think after a 3 hour drive we would want a nice meal and decent night’s sleep but little did we know what we were in for.
We checked in, got dressed and made our way to the restaurant. The hotel is in the middle of no where and fairly average but more than what we need for the night. However, the resto looked pretty decent and was full, likely due to there being an event on at Spa, Belgium’s premium race track.
I wasn’t eating which I said when I sat down and all was good. However, when she came to take our order things took a sudden turn.
The evening was a set menu, likely due to it being busy (I counted 30 people), clearly not used to the numbers. However mum and dad only wanted a main and she said she would ask, however already being unpleasant at this stage. And when I gave her my menu and said I wasn’t eating she gave the biggest huff, puff and sigh I have ever heard, so much so that I called after her and said “excuse me?”
GETTING TOLD TO LEAVE
After even dad called out and asked what was wrong on her way past us to the kitchen she ignored and bolted only to come back and say the chef wouldn’t be able to cater for us… the chef can’t cook a meal on the menu??
We were gobsmacked, like properly speechless but yet couldn’t help but laugh to each other🤣 and for the cherry on the cake she then immediately asked us to leave the restaurant and go to the sitting area, my days!
Some might ask what we had for dinner seeing as the place was in the middle of nowhere; baguette, crisps, tomatoes and Maltesers, bliss!
WHERE IS MALMEDY?
Thankful to get out of the place after an awkward breakfast (she made sure not to serve us) we headed to Baugnez 44, a museum about the Ardennes offensive, the Battle of the Bulge or the Nazi’s last strike.
What a museum this was. It’s privately owned but the owners have done some work from the audioguide to the displays and of course another few immersive experiences! If you are here you also have to visit the Malmedy Massacre Memorial, dedicated to the 84 American Soldiers who were murdered upon surrender.
BATTLE OF THE BULGE FACTS :
- Almost 3 million horses were used.
- Fought between December 16th, 1944 and January 25th, 1945.
- Lasting 1 month, 1 week and 2 days.
Joachim was a German Commander for the Schutzstaffel (SS) who ordered the execution of these American Troops along with many other war crimes and has an interesting story since the event.
Peiper was sentenced to death which was later reduced to life in prison. Even at this he was released and began leading a normal life, working for Volkswagen. Eventually he moved to France to distance himself from any attention he was receiving in Germany. It wasn’t long until Anti-Nazis found where he lived and burned his house. Joachim never made it out alive.
- HIGHLIGHT – Passchendaele Museum 1917
- LOWLIGHT – The bizarre long weekends in France that seem to last until Wednesday
- MVP – Waiter at Le Bistro
- LVP – The women from Hotel du Moulin
EASY COMPANY FOX HOLES
After arriving to a closed Bulge Relics Museum we headed to E Company’s fox holes. Working hours are bizarre here in France, a lot seem to take Monday and Tuesday off.
Although there wasn’t a lot to see here, it’s good to imagine the conditions of these soldiers, living in holes dug into the ground. This very regiment was who the TV series, Band of Brothers was based on.
BASTOGNE WAR MUSEUM
Another great American museum with plenty to read, listen and watch. The Bastogne Museum takes you through the battle of the bulge, Americas biggest war in Europe during World War 2.
After a quick visit to a another museum that was closed (101st Airborne Museum) we stopped of at a German Cemetery. Likely to be an unpopular opinion, it’s good to see that these soldiers also have a final resting place and that the bodies have been treated with dignity and respect, at the very least for their own family.
LES JARDIN DU MESS
We arrived into Verdun which was a stunning little town and checked into a hotel with actual nice staff! Also shout out to the waiter in Le Bistrot who was happy to put the 3 of us on a table for 2 when there was no other options.
Another eventful few days but Malmedy will always be remembered for the woman at Hotel Du Hotel, and I thank her for giving us this to look back on and crease 🤣
Verdun and a break in Champagne!! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Would you mind being buried under a memorial with 1,000s of other soldiers?
- Do you mind driving for hours?
Let me know in the comments below . . .