I’ll admit that I was reluctant to visit the battlefields in Northeastern France that mark the place where the longest battle of World War I took place. The drive is slightly out of the way from the vineyards of Champagne, which was our intended destination from the start. After visiting the historic sites of Verdun, I retract my reluctance and add encouragement that anyone visiting the area should absolutely make sure that they take some time out of wine tasting to visit the somber fields of war.
I recently put pen to paper, or rather, finger to keyboard, to compile a little guide on how to best visit the sites of the Battle of Verdun for Winetraveler.com. It’s not hard to get to Verdun if you are staying in the Champagne or even the Alsace region, as the battlefield is only about an hour and a half drive from Reims. However, keep in mind that this is not a quick drive-by experience. There is a lot to see across the fields and forests where French and Allied forces fought Germans for 303 days on the Western Front. Each memorial and museum is worth spending time in reflecting on the impact of such a bloody endeavor.
If you are short on time, pick a few spots to see that are closer together, such as the Ossuary, Fort, and other memorials located in the area that was once the village of Douaumont. If you need to stay somewhere overnight, choose a hotel in Verdun for a centralized location, but also because there are very few places to stay in the villages surrounding the battlefield.
While visiting sites of war may not be as fun as tasting Champagne, the significance of the events that occurred in Verdun and the surrounding region is hard to deny. It’s important that we don’t forget the loss of life or why there was fighting so as to not repeat the mistakes of our great-grandfathers.
Read more about how you can see the sites of the Battle of Verdun in my latest article for Winetraveler.com.