Verdun

The forts that surrounded Verdun took a heavy pounding during WWI.

The forts that surrounded Verdun took a heavy pounding during WWI.

At the end of July Wanderlust spent 13 nights in Toul. The stop, the longest of the season, was largely dictated by the arrival logistics of our next set of guests. With the extended stay we had the opportunity to do much needed maintenance. We also were able to visit sights near Toul by car.

After renting a car we headed north towards the Belgium border to see Verdun. Though the town itself is attractive many visitors are like us and come to area primarily to see the World War I battlefield. The hills to the north of Verdun were the location of one of the biggest battles on the Western Front during World War I.

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The facade of Fort Douamont shows damage from the heavy bombardments. Before the war, the fort looked like a normal building.

The facade of Fort Douamont shows damage from the heavy bombardments. Before the war, the fort looked like a normal building.

Fought from 21 February to 18 December 1916 the Battle of Verdun became the longest and one of the most costly battles in human history. It is estimated that casualties during the 303 daylong battle exceeded 700,000. Even today, the pockmarked landscape shows the results of the heavy shelling. Though it has been nearly 100 years since the first shots were fired seeing Verdun today is still sobering. Time has not yet erased the battle’s wounds to the land or to humanity.

(Wanderlust’s crew visited Verdun’s battlefields by car on the 29th of July 2015. Verdun is about 80 kilometers by road from Toul.)

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Even today the landscape is pockmarked for miles.

Even today the landscape is pockmarked for miles.

The skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified combatants fill the alcoves at the lower edge of the Douaumont ossuary.

The skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified combatants fill the alcoves at the lower edge of the Douaumont ossuary.

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The Douaumont ossuary, the final resting place of the bones of countless French and German soldiers

The Douaumont ossuary, the final resting place of the bones of countless French and German soldiers

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