The Lorraine city of Verdun, in the centre of Meuse, has been shaped by major historical events linked to the First World War. As the location of a terrible battle that lasted 10 months in 1916 and killed over 300,000, the city honours this sorrowful past by paying a permanent tribute to the soldiers who died on the front.
A garrison town from the 17th century onwards, fortified by Vauban, Verdun became increasingly militarised in the 19th century, at the expense of industry. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine, it became the stronghold of the north-east border. After the terrible battle in 1916 in which two out of three French soldiers fought, the town was devastated, and would once more endure German occupation in the Second World War. Today, Verdun is the world capital of Peace, and has managed to combine tourism development and the duty of remembrance without striking any wrong notes.
As well as the many nearby war-related sites and remembrance locations for the Battle of Verdun centenary (Douaumont Ossuary and Fort, Fort Vaux, the Sacred Way, Souville Fort, Thiaumont Fortress, etc.), you can visit the city's underground citadel, built between 1890 and 1893, to help you understand the events of the First World War. This veritable logistical HQ is very impressive and is made up of tunnels where the soldiers lived and military equipment was stored. It has recreations of scenes from everyday life during the battle. This is also where the "unknown soldier" now lying beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was chosen.
The Verdun Memorial reopened in 2016 after renovation work and has an exhibition about the battle on three floors.
Verdun offers many tours and circuits at its historic sites, as well as a sound and light show, "From Flames to Light", from June to the end of July.
While the memory of the world wars is omnipresent, Verdun also has some urban heritage that is worth a visit: the Cathedral of Our Lady, one of the oldest in Europe; St. Paul's Gate, a triumphal arch that used to be part of the ramparts; and the 16th-century Princerie mansion that houses Verdun Museum of Art and History.
The old episcopal palace is where you will find the World Centre for Peace, Liberty and Human Rights, a place for exhibitions, meetings and dialogue.
The name of Verdun resonates in the history of mankind as one of the greatest and most tragic battles of the 1st world war.
To ensure the defense of Verdun, no less than 2 belts of around forty forts, structures, infantry shelters, entrenchments, etc. were built. The most famous of them, the Fort de Vaux and the Fort de Douaumont and the underground citadel tell you through their gallery visits about the lives of soldiers.
The city has recited several commemorative monuments: Monument de la Victoire, Monument to the Children of Verdun… including the most famous, the Douaumont Ossuary, which contains the remains of 130,000 men.
Episcoscal city, Verdun conceals a rich religious heritage since in the 16th century, it forms with the cities of Toul and Metz the province of the "Three Bishoprics".
From the church of Saint-Baptiste or even Saint-Victor via the Saint-Nicolas chapel, you just have to walk through the streets of the upper town and stroll along the Meuse to be convinced.
Excite your taste buds with the famous artisanal dragerie de Verdun. Born in 1783, Maison Braquier offers a wide choice of sugared almonds. Almonds or chocolates, colored or silver, there will be something for everyone!
Created in the aftermath of the First World War, with 36 million trees planted, the state forest of Verdun extends over the battlefield and covers more than 10,000 hectares. It becomes an exceptional ecosystem for flora and fauna. There are 16 species of bats, 18 species of amphibians including the yellow-bellied toad and the crested newt, and more than twenty wild orchids. With its natural wealth, it obtained in 2014 the label of "Exceptional Forest". Over time, it becomes a life-size playground for mountain bikers, walkers, trailers and all nature lovers.
In addition to very pronounced memory tourism, Verdun emphasizes green tourism and sports by offering a choice of activities and sporting events suitable for all.
Whether you are on the water, in the forest, or in town, treat yourself to a good moment of relaxation with family or friends.
Verdun is, among other activities, a concentrate of nature and sport. Meanders of the wild Meuse for canoeing, green spaces for hiking or mountain biking, or the city streets for Nordic walking, there will be something for everyone! Sports city, Verdun hosts many sports running competitions such as the Trench Trail, the Great War half-marathon, or the Remembrance Triathlon.
- The Underground Citadel of Verdun: Discover a unique historical experience in augmented reality.
- Enjoy a new experience of visiting the underground galleries of the Citadel, in a wire-guided gondola. Equipped with augmented reality glasses, thanks to projections and special effects, immerse yourself in the memory of the Citadel and share moments lived by the soldiers.
"On September 13, 1916, early morning rises on the Citadel of Verdun. The grayish dawn is streaked with raindrops. A small group of harassed hairy people, coming from Fleury, heads towards Verdun. Louis, Camille, Emile, and Jean were ordered to come down from the front and to join the Citadel to participate in a ceremony of which they do not know the content... "
Four men, four different destinies, four visions of war for enlighten, through their looks and their emotions, the story of a conflict that will haunt collective memory for a long time to come…
Play as soldier Jean. Meet his comrades to share the intense life of the Underground Citadel and relive the events that made this place a symbol, such as the Choice of the Unknown Soldier. At Verdun, cross the barriers of time.
- First cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary Mother of God, the cathedral of Verdun is one of the oldest in Europe (990).
- Marked by war and unrest due to the geographical location of the Bishopric of Verdun, the cathedral of Verdun is the symbol of a city which continues to rise from its ruins. As a result, it brings together all architectural styles, from the Rhine Romanesque style to the Baroque: pillars of the 10th century., 12th century crypt., 14th - 16th century chapels., 16th century cloister., baroque decor from the 18th century. A huge fire struck the roof of the cathedral on April 2, 1755, requiring the building to be restored. The bishop of Nicolai and the canon Chaligny de Plaine, fond of art history, introduced the baroque style into the interior decoration of the cathedral. The canopy inspired by St Peter of Rome at the intersection of the transept and the eastern choir was installed for this occasion.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral has in its stones more than ten centuries of history, including traces of the bombings of the First World War.
- Do not miss a visit to the crypt, a true Romanesque gem and tribute to the soldiers of 1916 (west pillars of the crypt).
- Established since 1932 in the heart of a beautiful 16th century mansion, the Musée de la Princerie de Verdun welcomes you from April 1 to October 31. Its very varied collections allow to know the rich history of Verdun from Prehistory until the eve of the First World War.
- Important archaeological evidence from prehistoric, Celtic and Gallo-Roman eras are on display there. A remarkable medieval collection highlights the artistic and historical influence of the region in the Middle Ages. The museum also presents the works of the Meuse painters Jules Bastien-Lepage and Hector Leroux, Lorraine furniture, a collection of earthenware and fireplaces as well as old weapons. The garden, dominated by a century-old maple tree, punctuates the visit by evoking the romantic spirit of the 19th century.
- The World Center for Peace, Freedoms and Human Rights is located in the prestigious episcopal palace of Verdun, of which Saint-Simon qualified, in his memoirs, the most splendid episcopal palace there is in France.
Designed in 1724 by Robert de Cotte, Louis XV's first architect, the access patella, the main courtyard, the gardens and the ceremonial rooms make it today one of the jewels of classical art. French.
- For 30 years, it has been a memorial center of excellence (14-18 and Franco-German), an exhibition space, a space for meetings and exchanges (conferences, concerts, literary events, etc..) and a player in business tourism with its reception rooms from 20 to 300 seats.
- No one can deny it: Verdun draws its charm from the presence of the canalized river which crosses the city. With its landscaped edge of the Meuse, it offers a quality of life appreciated by all! Emblematic of this privileged relationship, the London quay and the port in the heart of the capital of the dragee concentrate shops, bars and restaurants. A large pedestrian area, this busy thoroughfare welcomes many tourists to a nautical stopover, to visit this episcopal city, or simply to enjoy the large terraces.
- Collateral victim of the bombardments, the current London quay was completely devastated during the battle of Verdun. After WWII, it was completely rebuilt and rehabilitated with financial assistance from the City of London. Today, this pedestrian area is the scene of the region's most emblematic events: the Musiques et terrasses festival, the Grand Festival…
- Monument to the Victory: Monumental staircase of 73 steps carved into the old rampart of Verdun and leading to a crypt surmounted by a pylon supporting a warrior. In the crypt, are exposed the gold books of the medalists of Verdun.
- The Unusual in the heart of Verdun: 1 hour walking tour to discover the most beautiful monuments of Verdun.
- Dragees Braquier: The Dragée Braquier factory has been making the specialty of Verdun since 1783. La Dragée was born in Verdun in 1220. Located in the Coulmier factory since 1871, the Maison Braquier continues the artisanal manufacture of Dragee but also offers other unique sweets such as the Giant Dragee (which changes color), the Obus Braquier, coated in chocolates, other dried fruits, and cooked sugar candies.