Back to WWI
After the others had loaded the dead bike and invalid for a car ride back to Germany, the rest of us set off in different directions. I had a 300km day ahead so after the first 50kms getting out of the mountains, I jumped on a major road and racked up some miles. It's Sunday so no trucks are allowed on the roads, so I risked the Motorway for a short spell. Only two or three crazy French drivers tried to use the space I was already in, but I have developed some pretty keen survival techniques now.
When I hit the country roads again, the miles just flew by. It's all flat and fairly straight but still beautifully scenic and the sun was shining so a great ride was had.
I got to Verdun at 1.30 and was going to book into the Etap hotel so that I could dump my gear and make the most of the afternoon. The lady at the Tourist Info recommended another hotel almost in the town itself and half the price.
Les Colombes is a 1 star gem! For 26€ I got a clean room with a single bed and a toilet and basin in the room, garage for the bike and free internet. Bargain!
I unburdened Henry and then we took off to see some sights. The road out to the Ossuary was pure delight and there were dozens of memorials dotted through the forest. Much of the area has been left as it was 100 years ago and the shell craters are evident everywhere.
The Battle of Verdun started in February 1916 and in the first 10 hours, the Germans shot 2 million shells at the French lines. The battle raged on for another 300 days.
I stopped at Douaumont Fort where the camera battery decided to die. It was a fair way back to town so I continued on to the Ossuary. It was commissioned after the war to house the bones of the 130,000 unknown soldiers left on the battlefields. It was very impressive but one half had scaffolding on it so I have pinched a photo from the internet.
The film shown in the theatre was fairly average but the walk through the memorial was very impressive. They had a photo exhibition of old soldiers holding photos of their young selves. Very moving.
Back into town to charge the battery and then I wandered along the riverside for a while before selecting a restaurant for dinner. I had a delicious paella and resisted the chocolate crepes.