THE NORMANDY & WESTERN FRONT SERIES, DAY 15&16
VERDUN – CHAMPAGNE – RIEMS – CHAMPAGNE
Verdun Riems & Champagne. This morning we arrived at what was the strangest museum experience so far which was navigated in a small remote carriage through the tunnels underneath! The underground Citadel of Verdun was built between 1886 and 1893 to provide shelter for up to 2,000 men.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I WALKED AROUND A CITY AND HAD SO MANY INTERESTING CHARACTERS TO WATCH.
The true importance of this site was only realised in 1916 during the Battle of Verdun when it protected thousands of men from incessant shelling. Verdun was known as one of the bloodiest battles in history, with almost 750,000 casualties. The need for such a shelter was made clear by the near 60million shells which landed in the region and which was responsible for 8/10 deaths.
WHERE IS VERDUN?
VERDUN MEMORIAL & MUSEUM
This was a great museum to commemorate the Battle of Verdun and is situated close to one of the battlefields adjacent to Fleury-Devant-Douaumont. The museum is another which has had proper time and money spent on it, with short films, displays and a tone of incredible information you wouldn’t expect to learn, e.g. the Germans sent 28billion letters in 4 years of war!
DAY 15 DAILY INFO….
- HOTEL – Champagne Collery – 7.5/10
- RESTAURANT – Le Sept 8/10
- ATTRACTIONS –
Underground Citadel of Verdun 7/10
Verdun Memorial & Museum 7.5/10
Trench of Bayonets
Tranchee De Chattancourt
DAY 16 DAILY INFO….
- HOTEL – Champagne Collery – 7.5/10
- RESTAURANT – Le Bellevue 8.5/10
- ATTRACTIONS –
Reims – Strange place
Museum of Reddition – 8/10
A unique memorial near to the Verdun Museum. The Douaumont Memorial contains the skeletal remains of over 130,000 soldiers! These remains can actually be seen through the rear basement windows to the back of the monument, close to the entrance. After watching the short film you can take the stairs to the viewing platform to see all 15,000 graves. You might notice the Muslim section to the left which points directly towards mecca.
TRENCH OF BAYONETS
There are several accounts of what exactly happened here. Many sources believe a platoon of Allies came under shell fire until 1 landed within the group and buried them. The force was said to be so huge it moved enough earth to bury the men as they stood in their trenches, leaving the top of their bayonets exposed. Other accounts have said that the Germans found or killed the troops and pitched the bayonets into the ground to show their comrades where they had been buried.
BATTLE OF VERDUN FACTS :
- The first shot was fired on 21 February 1916 and damaged Verdun Cathedral.
- Verdun witness the first use of flamethrowers.
- The Battle of Verdun was the longest battle of WW1 (10 months) and the largest battle of attrition.
- Fort Douaumont was the main defence of Verdun and dominated the northern approach.
DAILY TRAVEL STATS….
- Steps – 10,400 & 9,100
- Miles covered – 123 miles
TRANCHEE DE CHATTANCOURT
This is a privately owned museum with a small collection of artefacts that have been uncovered over the past few decades. However it’s highlight has to be the small network of trenches that it maintains, a worthwhile visit if you are in the area.
I’m not a champagne drinker but it would be an absolute sin to be around here and not venture in for a few nights. Also its great to finally arrive at a hotel which we plan on staying for more than 1 night.
WHERE IS CHAMPAGNE?
What an absolute blissful evening in the sun we had last night drinking the champagne I have no taste for, but of course when in Rome! It was also a little unusual waking up today in this environment and not having to be packed and out the door by 9am! Apparently it’s not the time of week to do Champagne tasting at Bolli so we are heading for Reims instead.
CHAMPAGNE FACTS :
- Champagne is named after the region, rather than the type of grape.
- To be called Champagne, the drink must be produced in a specific area of France.
- Champagne is the coldest wine growing region in metropolitan France due to northern location!
- Harvesting grapes in France is strict and there is only a three week period where it is permitted. This accounts for some 120,000 people who are often employed for just under two weeks.
Reims surprised me a bit, like the other cities of France it had its stunning architecture but was full of interesting characters. Women sunning themselves on the shopping street, men having a full blown conversation with themselves and an unknown character with the most incredible set of rings on their fingers. It’s little wonder how they had the strength to lift their hand, finally we are getting our dose of people watching!
REIMS FACTS :
- Reims is the world capital of Champagne.
- In Reims a bottle of champagne is opened every 10 seconds.
- If you are from Reims you are known as Rémoises if female and Rémois if male.
- Farmland takes up 60% of the regions land.
MUSEUM OF REDDITION
As our trip nears an end it was only fitting that we visited the museum of Reddition, the building where the official surrender of the Germans took place. Its small – which was ideal as we are nearly burnt out with museums. After a short movie you can head upstairs, view the usual guns and uniforms before taking a look into the room itself.
As it’s a bit of a special night, the rent’s 32nd wedding anniversary, we headed to the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa to dine at Le Bellevue and what an incredible resto. If this isn’t the best hotel and resto in Champagne then I want to see what is. It was as close to perfect as you could get. Pitched at the top of Champillon overlooking the town of Èpernay and the surrounding vineyards there could not have been better views this side of Paris. The food was also top drawer but does fall short of the steak I had in Bayeux, but then again so does every steak! And to top it, the customer service was tops with mum all but asking if the waiter had Irish roots because he was ginger 🤣
- HIGHLIGHT – Dinner at Bellevue
- LOWLIGHT – Reims wasn’t as nice as expected
- MVP – The Waiter at Bellevue, genuinely full of craic especially when he caught mums statement of ‘we are from Ireland’ but that she was paying indirect reference to his ginger hair!
A few days in Champagne was a good way to chill after an intense 2 weeks and the perfect way to spend the rents anniversary.
A day in Paris!! Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
This post is part of The Normandy & Western Front Series, for the entire series click here or for episode 1, click here.
To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my Instagram.
- Do you like Champagne?
- Whats your favourite fine dining food?
Let me know in the comments below . . .