You’ll be picked up from your Paris hotel in the morning for a drive 2.5 hours east to the region of Meuse to visit Verdun. When you arrive, you’ll see the profound marks that World War I left on the landscape.
Visit the Battlefield of Verdun to learn about the massive Battle of Verdun in 1916, now known as The Hell of Verdun. The human cost of this 300-day battle was horrendous, leaving hundreds of thousands of soldiers dead. Your guide will conjure stories about the battle to give you a real sense of what happened here.
Drive past the London Trench to see where British troops delivered supplies and medical help, and then arrive at the Ossuary of Douaumont, a memorial containing the remains of soldiers who died during the Battle of Verdun.
Then head to Fort Douaumont, the largest and highest fort on the ring of 19 defensive forts protecting the city of Verdun. Your guide will explain how Fort Douaumont was taken over by German troops, shocking the French Army’s structure and setting the stage for the rest of the Battle of Verdun.
The most chilling place among the eerie landscape of Verdun is the Trench of Bayonets, which you’ll visit next. After the war, a line of a dozen bayonets was found protruding from the ground. Experts believe that a German artillery bombardment collapsed the trench, burying the French soldiers.
Leaving Verdun behind, head to the Argonne region for lunch (included) before visiting one of the sites where the infamous Meuse-Argonne Offensive took place in 1918. Discover the part of the battlefields where General Pershing's American Expeditionary Force got involved in the fighting. As you’ll learn, this offensive was a part of the final Allied offensive of WWI that stretched along the entire Western Front.
Nearby, visit the Romagne War Museum to learn about the American and German units that fought in the area around Romagne-sous-Montfaucon during the war. Most of the collection comes from within 2 miles (3 km) of the village, providing an fascinating, intimate up-close look at war’s remains. Afterwards, you can browse the small museum shop for battlefield relics and books.
Your last stop is the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, the largest US Cemetery in Europe with more than 14,000 graves. Located just east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, the cemetery contains the largest number of American military dead in Europe, most of whom lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
This tour is a sobering and moving experience, giving you a new, enlightened understanding of the plight of American, French and German troops during WWI. At the end of the day, hop back in the minivan and head back to Paris.