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GRAVES_33

Voie Sacrée D1916 to Verdun

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GRAVES_33

Hi All

I'm new here and hoping to get some help/ideas for following the D1916 from Bar-le-Duc to Verdun as i understand from research that this road has massive historical importance to France and the Great War. 

 

My plan is to go to Bar-le-Duc and follow the D1916 to Verdun and visit sites like Hill 304 and Mort Homme, along with Fort Vaux and Douaumont. i have been doing some research and found lots that i would like to see but realistically in the 2 days we have we can not so i am after the highlights and must sees.

 

i have a question that i am after in more specific details:

 

1. Is here any small sites off the beaten track to visit? somewhere that i can get a feel for the battlefields, sites that are there but forgotten or unmaintained even if its just paths along fields or woods that still carry the scars of the artillery barrage (i'm not interested in Field walking/Relic hunting i don't have the time) i just want to have a bit more of an experience that personal as i will likely be going in May and would imagine that the main sites will be busy with other Tourists.

 

So far with my little research:

      i know of a German Cemetery between Vaux-les-Palameix and Saint-Remy-la-Calonne near the Cross road of the D331

      also i was thinking of visiting Fosse d'Alain Fournier

 

 

 

i cant take any more than 2 days as this is a Side-trip, Holiday in Champagne with the family but as we will be not far from Verdun My Brother in Law and I really want to take the chance to visit this area (we have been on tours to the Somme and Normandy but never this deep into France) 

 

Thanks in advance

 

 

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nigelcave

When are you going?

 

I would recommend Christina Holstein's Battleground Europe books on Verdun; another is due out, probably spring 2019, 'Walking in the Footsteps of the Fallen: Verdun 1916'. All of her books have plenty of walks that will take you away from the major tourist sites. Another book to consider would be, in the same series, Marten Otte's book on the AEF's Meuse-Argonne Offensive (its right flank extended to the Meuse) and also the very recently published book on Montfaucon, a key first day objective of the offensive and where the AEF's major material stands and dominates the battlefield. if you were to go slightly further afield (only by a matter of a few minutes) I would recommend the Butte de Vauquois - probably over both Cote 304 and Mort Homme. Although both of the latter are very evocative, they are forested and views are extremely restricted, whereas the B de V has it all (even if it is not directly Verdun 1916 related).

 

 

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tomisitt

Last time I rode along the D1916 I came across a convoy of FWW vehicles commemorating the amazing achievement that was the Voie Sacrée...very moving.

 

Agree with Nigel about Vauquois being worth a visit, although I found walking among the collapsed trenches on Monte Homme and 304 to be well worth the trip. Because the whole Verdun battlefield is forested it’s hard to get a sense of the topography, but there is stuff to see everywhere. The Holstein books are definitely worth buying.

 

If you’re in the Champagne area, I cannot recommend a visit to Main de Massiges highly enough (amazing restored trenches). 

11DAA25E-B21E-419D-96CF-1EEE156B493E.jpeg

19D17080-E5AF-4DA7-87A1-176800677120.jpeg

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Herekawe

Leave plenty of time to visit Vaux and Douaumont, however probably only necessary to go under ground at one of them, probably Douaumont although Vaux is good too, and much smaller. I agree Hill 304 and Mort Homme are interesting but the scrub is thick especially at Mort Homme, you can wander around easy enough but don't get any great views. Don't get lost. Douaumont Ossuary has good views from the top, museum at Fluery is good and they have made view shafts so you can see the Ossuary and Douaumont.  Don't forget the Trench of Bayonets, although that only takes 2 seconds, but the country side around is full of shell holes. Visit Beaumont the "Village Detruit" is good and the the grave (s) of Col Driant is just up the road a bit further.

 

Butte de Vacquois is very good.

 

They have opened it up a lot in the last few years and there is endless stuff to see, shell holes, wrecked fortifications. I recommend Christina's book and a good map. There is plenty to see filling a couple of days won't be a problem and its all good stuff.

 

The Voie Sacree is a road with quiet an interesting memorial just Sth of Verdun, but realistically it is a road like many others, you can approach Verdun from this direction if you like.

 

James

Edited by Herekawe
Added a bit

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Michelle Young

Rode the motorcycle down the Voie Sacree in June. A very interesting journey. I loved the km markers 

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NigelS
3 hours ago, nigelcave said:

 ...I would recommend the Butte de Vauquois - probably over both Cote 304 and Mort Homme. Although both of the latter are very evocative, they are forested and views are extremely restricted, whereas the B de V has it all (even if it is not directly Verdun 1916 related).

 

Found B de V very moody, but, considering the history, not really surprising  and did visit on a misty, damp day

547859217_BdeV.jpg.9113abc860dc5ba18e406ae45041b973.jpg

 

1 hour ago, Michelle Young said:

... I loved the km markers 

 

371288963_VoieSacree.jpg.2d34fc6f1df8022a7121d7210b6d546a.jpg

 

and available locally in  miniature form as inexpensive souvenirs (I have one on my mantelpiece) , but, as is the nature of such things these days, they're made in China!

 

1989794135_VoieSacreeMem.jpg.b5690001552c0609af72d1f055e0b184.jpg

Voie Sacree Memorial

 

NigelS

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GRAVES_33

Wow thanks everyone for the friendly and helpful replies as a newbie and asking something that has probably been asked 100 times before!

Really interesting about the Butte de Vacquois and Main de Massiges, i had seen these but wasnt sure if i should visit or not but with recommendations and the photos i cant miss them now!

I am going in May, thank you for confirming with me that getting a Topology of the battlefields is difficult as i was struggling with research and thats why that was a question on its own, i have already got a couple of books on order thanks (i can now be anti-social over Christmas) 

 

Dave

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Fattyowls
1 hour ago, GRAVES_33 said:

(i can now be anti-social over Christmas)

 

A warm welcome; you are going to fit right in here Dave. It's a long time since I was last at Verdun but since reading your first post I've been trying to think of the places I wish I'd gone to on my first visit. Don't go away......

 

Pete.

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GRAVES_33

Thanks Pete, 

I am looking forward to drinking and eating too much while reading books in the corner planning a Trip to Verdun.

I must say i'm already regretting not joining this place years ago

 

Dave  

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nigelcave
On 30/11/2018 at 10:01, GRAVES_33 said:

Wow thanks everyone for the friendly and helpful replies as a newbie and asking something that has probably been asked 100 times before!

Really interesting about the Butte de Vacquois and Main de Massiges, i had seen these but wasnt sure if i should visit or not but with recommendations and the photos i cant miss them now!

I am going in May, thank you for confirming with me that getting a Topology of the battlefields is difficult as i was struggling with research and thats why that was a question on its own, i have already got a couple of books on order thanks (i can now be anti-social over Christmas) 

 

Dave

If I were you I would go to the Outrage de Falouse, the last of the Verdun forts/works to be constructed. It is privately run, extremely well set out: for example, it has mannequins with all the soldiers kit done in resin an professionally made - excellent; barrack rooms all equipped, the gun and mugs in their respective turrets still in place, etc etc.

In the Argonne Forest the walk along the signed and very extensive crater field (near the French ossuary at Haute Chevuachee) is amongst the very best for getting an impression of an extensive mine crater area; Camp Moreau is an outstanding example of a (German) support camp - just off the road north from Vienne le Chateau, as is the Ravin du Genie, a smaller scale support area and French, about a km from HC. All of these are within twenty minutes or so of the Butte de Vauquois; whilst the M la M tench system is about fifteen minutes from Vienne le Chateau. Do not miss the beautiful and moving German cemetery at Apremont. All of the much, much quieter than the usual spots on the right bank.

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Fattyowls
On 30/11/2018 at 12:11, GRAVES_33 said:

I am looking forward to drinking and eating too much while reading books in the corner planning a Trip to Verdun.
I must say i'm already regretting not joining this place years ago

 

Dave

 

I've been trying and failing to find a post I did for another first time visitor a while back but try as I might I just can't find it. I'll try and reconstruct it from memory. This may take some time so feel free to go and make a cup of tea. I think the planning that you are doing is a great idea. I find that if I make a list of places to visit I manage perhaps two thirds if I'm lucky; so maybe try ranking the places to make a must see list and a visit if we have time list. Then you can plot the quickest route to take them all in while letting the turkey digest over the festive season. Nigel's top tips for example are all very close to each other.

 

There is plenty of excellent advice about the battlefield itself on the forum if you put 'visiting Verdun into the search, but if I were going for the first time I would start at Douaumont. The battlefield is fascinating and frustrating as it is often difficult to see the terrain for the trees, Cote 304 and the Mort Homme are particularly bad for this. From the top of Douaumont you can see the whole battlefield more or less. Looking east you can see the hills which were German territory in 1914 and to the north are the cross ridges that the German offensive rolled rapidly over in late February 1916. To the west are the connected ridge forming the Mort Homme and Cote 304 and to the south is the terrible killing ground which for 10 months the two armies struggled over. I'm not a fan of the interior of Douaumont; it's a bit damp, cold and a bit eerie but Vaux is ok for me. The Ossuary is worth a visit and the tower has a fabulous view. particularly of the dreaded Ravine of the Dead to the northwest. It's perhaps worth going north a few km to Colonel Driant's command post in the Bois de Caures to get a sense of the place but again you don't see much of the terrain for the trees. The real battle was in the area between Douaumont, Souville and Vaux on the right bank and along the 304 - Mort Homme ridge on the left. I think the best place to get a sense of the latter is to turn your back on them and look across the river from around Chattancourt; you can really see how the artillery in the area could plaster the Germans around Douaumont almost from behind, and why the Germans had to deny them that advantage.

 

If anything else occurs to me I'll post it.

 

Pete.

 

 

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GRAVES_33

Thanks Again

 

22 hours ago, nigelcave said:

If I were you I would go to the Outrage de Falouse, Do not miss the beautiful and moving German cemetery at Apremont. All of the much, much quieter than the usual spots on the right bank.

 

I had not found either of these in my initial research so both are gladly received info! Thank you

 

14 hours ago, Fattyowls said:

 

Dave

 

I've been trying and failing to find a post I did for another first time visitor a while back but try as I might I just can't find it. I'll try and reconstruct it from memory. This may take some time so feel free to go and make a cup of tea. I think the planning that you are doing is a great idea. I find that if I make a list of places to visit I manage perhaps two thirds if I'm lucky; so maybe try ranking the places to make a must see list and a visit if we have time list. Then you can plot the quickest route to take them all in while letting the turkey digest over the festive season. Nigel's top tips for example are all very close to each other.

 

There is plenty of excellent advice about the battlefield itself on the forum if you put 'visiting Verdun into the search, but if I were going for the first time I would start at Douaumont. The battlefield is fascinating and frustrating as it is often difficult to see the terrain for the trees, Cote 304 and the Mort Homme are particularly bad for this. From the top of Douaumont you can see the whole battlefield more or less. Looking east you can see the hills which were German territory in 1914 and to the north are the cross ridges that the German offensive rolled rapidly over in late February 1916. To the west are the connected ridge forming the Mort Homme and Cote 304 and to the south is the terrible killing ground which for 10 months the two armies struggled over. I'm not a fan of the interior of Douaumont; it's a bit damp, cold and a bit eerie but Vaux is ok for me. The Ossuary is worth a visit and the tower has a fabulous view. particularly of the dreaded Ravine of the Dead to the northwest. It's perhaps worth going north a few km to Colonel Driant's command post in the Bois de Caures to get a sense of the place but again you don't see much of the terrain for the trees. The real battle was in the area between Douaumont, Souville and Vaux on the right bank and along the 304 - Mort Homme ridge on the left. I think the best place to get a sense of the latter is to turn your back on them and look across the river from around Chattancourt; you can really see how the artillery in the area could plaster the Germans around Douaumont almost from behind, and why the Germans had to deny them that advantage.

 

If anything else occurs to me I'll post it.

 

Pete.

 

 


Thanks Pete bloody excellent post.
 i watched this over the weekend and was quite informative albeit going over things i already knew it still beat watching "im a celebrity rubbish" that the wife had on the TV  

 

Edited by GRAVES_33

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healdav

When are you coming over. PM me and I may be able to give you a tour in untouched trenches and shell holes.

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GRAVES_33
3 hours ago, healdav said:

When are you coming over. PM me and I may be able to give you a tour in untouched trenches and shell holes.

 

 

At the moment we are looking at Mid May 17-21st but that isnt confirmed yet, will PM you once all booked thanks 

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