Circuit 1 - High Ride Battlefields. Round trip time 5 h

Stone Cross

1 Stone Cross

  • Turn left out of our gates, (Marker 0) then follow the signs to the Kaiser Tunnel. The road climbs and enters the trees to become the Haute Chevauchée, a marvellous drive through the depths of the Argonne Forest. Becoming a logging road after 3 kilometers, then a further five kilometres of twists and turns you come to a crossroad.
  • This crossroad was the transit point for all the needs of the french soldiers in the Haute Chevauchée:- material, ammunition, supplies for the troops, reinforcements. It is marked by an 8 foot cross twenty five yards along the right hand road. As the men marched past this crossroads going up to the front they would pray for strength and give thanks as they passed it on the way back.

Bunker of Lieutenant Courson

2 Bunker of Lieutenant Courson

  • Continue straight over the crossroads and you pass a restored French bunker originally built in 1915 to guard the crossroads and named after Lieutenant de Courson de la Villeneuve of the 82ème Régiment d'Infanterie who was killed at Evres in 1914.

Lachalade - Cimetière National de la forêt

3 Lachalade - Cimetière National de la forêt

  • The French forest cemetery at Lachalade, with its 2,005 graves all known and each with its hydrangea.
  • After the cemetry (also see next item) continue some miles until you arrive at the car park for the Haute Chevaucheé.

Memorial to the crew of EF 128 bomber

4 Memorial to the crew of EF 128 bomber

  • Also of note at this point is an RAF monument 20 yards before the end of the track on the right hand side is a second world war memorial.
  • An RAF STIRLING EF 128 on a bomber mission over Germany, was shot down by Helmut Bergmana of the Luftwafe, seven of the crew are buried in the Lachalade cemetery, the only survivor was captured and sent to a POW camp.

Ravin du Génie

5 Ravin du Génie

  • In the heart of the Argonne Forest, a former French military camp, serving as a rear base for detachments of the first regiment. It is in this deep ravine that the soldiers lived, sleeping in caves, shelters that show the difficult conditions the soldiers endured.
  • Throughout is a marked route, visitors can, thanks to sixty panels and signs that each have a short explanatory text, an image archive or a plan, follow at will the path that leads to the materials storage area in the upper part and after passing through the water catchment area to the men’s’ living quarters.
  • This is a picture of the restored kitchen ovens.

La Haute Chevauchée (Côte 285) The High Ride

6 La Haute Chevauchée (Côte 285) The High Ride

  • After losing the battle of the Marne the 5th German army retreated and then stabilized the front by digging trenches and tunnels - this front was called the Hindenburg Line.
  • The Memorial here ( Hill 285 ) is a sculpture of a soldier in mourning. Underneath is a small crypt and ossuary, and listed on the base of the memorial are all the French, Italian, Czech and American units that fought here.
  • Behind the memorial lies a huge mine crater and the remains of trenches and underground workings. You can follow the path around the crater to the memorial to 150,000 dead and then follow the old trenches along a path to the left which circles and descends towards the Kaiser Tunnel area.

Kronprinz Bunker

7 Kronprinz Bunker

  • A further five minute drive brings you to the T junction with D38, turn right and then about 200 yards turn left at the signpost Abri du Kronprinz (Crown Prince Bunker). The first parking area is for the Arboretum containing 40 types of trees and open daily without charge. The next is about 500 metres to a clearing on the right
  • This is a set of comfortable concrete bunkers and foxholes built for the German Crown Prince Wilhelm in the Bois de la Grurie, the largest bunker having a bay window and a plaster ceiling with cornice border! There are three sets of bunkers in total to see within a short walk.

Pennsylvania Monument

8 Pennsylvania Monument

  • Drive along the D38 to Varennes - noted for the capture of the fleeing French King Louis XVI and his family in 1791, the Argonne Museum and the Pennsylvania Monument which dominates the village.
  • In memory of the soldiers from that American state who perished in 1918 whilst liberating this zone. Built in 1927.
  • You can dine here at the Hotel du Monarch over the river bridge. Otherwise return on the D946, direction Clermont-en-Argonne then at Boureuilles turn left following the signs to the "Butte de Vauquois".

Butte de Vauquois (Vauquois Mound)

9 Butte de Vauquois (Vauquois Mound)

  • The village of Vauquois was destroyed by a war underground, a unique example of mining warfare. The Vauquois mound, graded by French Heritage, shows where the effects of war will be forever engraved in the ground of the Argonne hills.
  • This site visit is unique in its authenticity, preserved intact since 1918. It has a moon-like landscape which was once a village and the site is one of the most dramatic of the tour. Several tunnel entrances at the foot of the hill are still intact, and can be visited, then climb to see the German trench at the summit and the vast craters.
  • 2 hour guided tours of the tunnels on the first Sunday of the month between 10h to 12h

Circuit 2 - Argonne Battlefields and Camps. Round trip time 11 h

The Garibaldi Brothers Memorial

1 The Garibaldi Brothers Memorial

  • In the summer of 1914, although their country had not entered in the conflict, Italian volunteers came as volunteers in the French army in the 4th Regiment of the French Foreign Legion.
  • They took the name "Regiment Garibaldiens" in memory of Garibaldi, a leading figure of Italian Independence who fought alongside the French during the war of 1870.
  • Turn left out of our gates (Marker 0) then bare left after 100 yards (do not follow the signs to Kaiser Tunnel & Haute Chavaucheé at this point) then go straight-on past some new houses to the T junction with the D2. Turn right and after about 7 kilometers you arrive at La Chalade. The memorial is opposite the Cistercian Church.

The Cistercian Gothic Abbey Church

2 The Cistercian Gothic Abbey Church

  • Opposite the Garibaldi brothers memorial is the only Cistercian church preserved in Eastern France. The abbey was founded in 1100, its church around 1340 is still in beautiful condition. In the nave you will find full details of the Garibaldi brothers. Also the cemetery contains Commonwealth War Graves (see 3 of Circuit 1)
  • Continue along the D2, then D67, at Vienne-le-Chateau turn right onto the D63 towards Binarville. )
  • ( To join Circuit 1 take the road to the right immediately opposite the Abbey, it is signposted "Cimetière de la Forestière". The road twists and climbs then becomes a forest track. After about five miles drive through the forest the track ends at a T junction with the D38c Route Forestière Haute Chevauchée).

Massiges Trenches

3 Massiges Trenches

  • Some kilometers of trenches in extermely good order, on the summit of a natural fortress overlooking the Aisne valley, situated to the north of the village of Massiges, owes its name to the contour lines on the military maps, which take the form of a left hand. The fingers are separated by deep indentations, which the combatants, seeing them from the depth of their trenches, called ravines
  • The object of incessant attacks in 1914 and 1915 was only finally taken in the 1918 offensive
  • An extra-ordinary site, you will be truly surprised, enthralled and touched to discover this site.

The Moreau Valley German camp

4 The Moreau Valley German camp

  • Along the D63 a few kilometres to the north of Vienne-le-Château. Open on Saturday mornings otherwise the Lager Moreau is not open to the general public without appointment. However, two-hour tours for groups of 5 or more people can be arranged through the Comité. The tours include visiting the underground galleries.
  • The east-west valley, offering a north and south slope, parallel to the front allowed the construction of a camp for reserves and for rest from action at the front. The camp, restored by the Franco-German Committee, contains showers, delousing station, springs, a well, a power plant, canteen, laundry, sleeping cabins, latrines, trenches and a network of communication tunnels.

Lost Battalion

5 Lost Battalion

  • "We are along the road parallel 276.4 Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven's sake stop it". This was the message carried by Major Whittlesey's last carrier pigeon, named Cher Ami, on the 4th October after this division of the US Army was cut off from its supply lines, by the German forces, in the Charlevaux Ridge, Binarville.
  • After one week they had exhausted all medical supplies, half the men were injured, many were dead, food was gone, and water which should have been available from the brook, was not due to the intense German machine-gun fire.

German Cemetery

6 German Cemetery

  • German cemetery at Apremont and memorial to Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment 27 with some private headstones.

The Sergeant York Historic Trail

7 The Sergeant York Historic Trail

  • The Argonne Forest, France, 8 October 1918. After his platoon suffered heavy casualties, Sergeant Alvin York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In Sergeant York's heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 German officers and 128 men and several guns.
  • The Sergeant York historic trail at Châtel-Chéhéry is designed to let you walk where York walked and honour all those who fought in the Argonne.

Museum Romagne 14-18 - Museum Jean-Paul de Vries

8 Museum Romagne 14-18 - Museum Jean-Paul de Vries

  • Opening times 12:00 to 18:00 hours, Friday, Saturday,Sunday.
  • A permanent private exhibition of Jean-Paul de Vries at Romagne-sous-Montfaucon shows the daily life of a soldier in the trenches. This unique museum not only lets the visitor touch the emotions of the common soldier in WWI but also the artefacts themselves. Jean-Paul de Vries the owner and curator offers morning guided walks, he will astound you with his knowledge and passion for describing the daily life of the ordinary soldier, his routine, his possessions and his thoughts. Continue along the road from the Museum along Rue du Général John Joseph Pershing and within 1 mile you will come to the American Cemetery.

American Cemetery

9 American Cemetery

  • Within the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, which covers 130.5 acres, rest the largest number of American military dead in Europe, a total of 14,246.
  • Most of those buried here lost their lives during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I. The grave plots are framed by square-trimmed linden trees, with over 65 varieties of evergreen shrubs and trees plus many varieties of flowers complete the tranquil beauty of this cemetery.
  • Continue towards the village of Cunel, there turn right then again right to Nantillois, then continue to Montfaucon and find Rue d'Amerique at the hill summit.

Montfaucon Monument

10 Montfaucon Monument

  • The Doric column of the monument rises 200 feet above the ruins of the former hilltop village of Montfaucon and dominates the surrounding countryside.
  • Before its capture by the American 37th and 79th Divisions on 27 September 1918, the site provided the German forces with an excellent observation point. From the observation platform at the top, one can see most of the Meuse-Argonne battlefield.
  • Take the D19 in the direction of Varennes, just before turning left on the D38, then after 2 kilometers turn right for the Butte de Vauquois.

Missouri Angel

11 Missouri Angel

  • The Missouri Angel of Victory memorial at Cheppy to the US 35th Division.
  • Capt. Harry S Truman commanded an artillery battery and Col George Patton won a DSC in this division.

Circuit 3 - Verdun City. Round trip time 5 h

Sacred Way

1 Sacred Way

  • Turn right out of our drive (Marker 0); then left onto the D603 and follow the signs to Verdun. After about 15 miles at the roundabout and 50 yards along the road to the right, at Moulin Brûlé, is the memorial to the Voie Sacrée (Sacred Road) which was Verdun's lifeline in 1916 to Bar-le-Duc.
  • When Marshal Pétain came to Verdun he instigated the Voie Sacrée because the railway lines to the east and south were dominated by German guns, the line to the north was cut by the front line and the remaining metre guage line Le Meusien to Bar-le-Duc although operational was saturated because of a shortage of locomotives and rolling stock. The road carried an average of 6,000 vehicles every day, one vehicle every 14 seconds. The Voie Sacrée memorial features a bas-relief of the lorry convoys and troops maintaining the road.

Carrefour des Maréchaux

2 Carrefour des Maréchaux

  • Continue along the D603 and when the road splits to the left, carry straight on along the D330. After the second roundabout the road descends and after about 50 yards a left turn takes you to the Carrefour des Maréchaux.
  • This is an avenue of 16 huge statues of French Marshals and Generals for the French Empire up to the 1914-18 conflict. The Verdun battlements designed by Vauban are the backdrop to these statues.
  • Continue along the rue du 5eme RAP about 200 yards to the Citadelle entrance on the left Hand side.

Verdun Citadelle

3 Verdun Citadelle

  • The City's huge Citadel was first erected in 1624, reinforced and developed by Vauban after 1887. It has 7000 metres of underground tunnels, used as shelter for troops on their way to the front, also containing a hospital, kitchens, bakeries, food storage, officers and mess halls. Catering for some 10,000 people, soldiers and civilians it was a true subterranean city. After the war, in one of the large chambers, the selection of the French Unknown soldier was made from eight bodies.
  • As Verdun is still a major garrison, the Citadel remains active but parts are open to the public. Known as Expérience 1914-18 you visit some of the 7,000 metres of underground galleries in an automatic car, past scenes from the war. The tour takes 30 minutes and English is spoken on request.

Verdun Monument to the Fallen

4 Verdun Monument to the Fallen

  • Now drive through the Verdun city one way system to the Tourist Offices (One Private the other Public) along the Meuse river (Quai de la République). Beside one of them is the statue of Général Sarrail - the Saviour of Verdun (and France) - opposite this you will see the impressive Monument to the Fallen.
  • On ne Passe Pas (They Will Not Pass), Five soldiers of different corps of the French Army stand shoulder to shoulder, forming a wall against the assault of the enemy. On either side are fragments of the old fortifications landscaped into the Parc Municipal Japiot. Engraved are the names of all the children of Verdun who died for France. Each November 1, the flame of the unknown soldier from the Arc de Triomphe is sent to Verdun by walkers, and after a ceremony at the monument, the flame is placed in the crypt of the Victory Monument.

The Dutch Monument

5 The Dutch Monument

  • Continue over the river bridge in front of the Porte Chaussée, this gate dates from the 14th century and in 1914 all convoys bound for the front passed under its arch. The road turns to the right in front of the police station and then one of the town car parks nearest to the high street. A few yards along the rows of parked cars can be seen on the right hand side the Statue of Victory.
  • This evocative Statue of Victory by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was presented to the city by the Dutch nation in 1920.

The Victory Monument

6 The Victory Monument

  • The Victory Monument in Verdun’s main shopping street rue Mazel at the junction with the Avenue de la Victoire. Built into the 13th century ramparts in 1929.
  • In its crypt are kept the Golden Books which record the many medals awarded to the city.
  • Climb up the 73 steep steps with the top flanked either side by two Russian guns captured from the Germans.

World Centre for Peace

7 World Centre for Peace

  • From the top of the Victory Monument it is a short walk through the old town to the World Peace Centre
  • Next to the Cathedral in the Episcopal Palace dating from the 18th century, the World Centre for Peace, Liberty and Human Rights has a permenant exhibition on war and peace with other exhibitions with a First World War theme or connection.
  • The centre is a place for meeeting and reflection for the promotion of peace, liberty and human rights.
  • Your visit will leave you emotionally involved in questioning how to avoid being subjected to the retarding affects of conflicts and wars beyond their control.

Sacred Way Kilometre Marker

8 Sacred Way Kilometre Marker

  • The whole of the Voie Sacrée 57 kms to Bar-le-Duc is marked by Voie Sacrée kilometre stones, red-capped with a soldier helmet on top. The Voie Sacrée (Sacred Road) was Verdun's lifeline in 1916 to Bar-le-Duc. From February to December 1916, an endless line of supply and troop convoys moved along this road day and night.
  • The road carried an average of 6,000 vehicles every day, one vehicle every 14 seconds. The Voie Sacrée memorial features a bas-relief of the lorry convoys and troops maintaining the road and stands on the roundabout junction between the D603 and D1916 at Le Moulin Brûle.

Circuit 4 - Verdun Battlefields. Round trip time 8 h

Verdun Memorial

1 Verdun Memorial

  • About 5 miles from Verdun city center along the D112 at Fleury-devant-Douaumont. The Memorial de Verdun museum stands on the site of Fleury railway station, the village itself being totally destroyed in the bombardments of 1916.
  • Anyone who wishes to understand what really happened at Verdun during the First World War and who wishes to find an itinerary that allows them to discover the battle field, fully explained in well-designed displays, the Memorial de Verdun serves as a wonderful introduction..