The long-awaited reopening of The Museum of War and Peace took place in Novion-Porcien at the end of last month, as The French Ardennes prepares to welcome visitors to its battlefields and monuments in the 100th anniversary year of the conclusion of The First World War.
Closed for refurbishment in 2008, its reopening means that The French Ardennes has yet another major attraction for visitors to see in the year which marks the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War.
For 75 years – from France’s defeat at Sedan in 1870, to the end of the Second World War in 1945 – The French Ardennes stood at the crossroads of history, as well as in the very front line of conflict. The Museum of War and Peace preserves the memory of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the First and Second World Wars.
The architecturally distinctive Museum was created in 2003, and today houses a collection of more than 14,000 items divided into six major categories. Located on the A34 which links Reims and Paris with Charleville-Mézières, The Museum is also the gateway to The French Ardennes’ many remembrance sites.
It commemorates, amongst other things, the “House of the Last Cartridge”, in Bazeilles – a village 8 km from Sedan – where commander Lambert’s group of seventy men stood up to 2,300 Prussians in September 1870.
World War I is depicted through the life of German and French troops in the trenches. The soldiers had left home with “flowers in their gun barrels”, but found themselves in a war in which men on both sides dug underground to protect themselves, giving rise to the figure of the French “Poilu” who suffered the rigors of the seasons, shortages and bloody attacks, which in the end led to mutiny.
Further details can now be found at https://www.guerreetpaix.fr/en. Entry prices are €8 for adults, €5 concessions, and €20 for a Family Pass. Group prices for 20 people or more start from €5 per person.
Holiday makers from the UK thinking of visiting The French Ardennes in 2018, meanwhile, may be interested to know that the local tourist board has published a new magazine-style brochure entitled French Ardennes Inspirations – which can now be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephoning +33 324 56 06 08.
Available in English, it helps to highlight the appeal of one of the greenest areas of France, while revealing everything from the region’s top thrills, most unexpected experiences, the sheer poetry of a weekend spent in Charleville-Mézières, its history and its heritage, and one of Europe’s biggest eco-friendly music festivals The Cabaret Vert.
The French Ardennes, of course, has more reason than most areas of France for marking the centenary of the end of WWI.
Four years of commemorations in France – that have marked everything from the start of the conflict, in 1914, through to events remembering those who fell in the campaigns at The Somme and Passchendaele – will draw to a close at 11am on November 11, 2018.
And, for France, it is The French Ardennes that will be providing the full stop, at the end of the final sentence, in the last chapter of the history of the conflict. Because it was here, in The French Ardennes, where the last official French victim of The Great War, Augustin Joseph Trébuchon, fell – just fifteen minutes before the cease-fire at 11am on November 11, 1918.
Trébuchon is buried in the cemetery of Vrigne-Meuse, an Ardennes village of 220 inhabitants, where visitors today will find a church with 18 white crosses surrounding a memorial – in honour of the men of the 415th Infantry Regiment who all died on November 11 during the last offensive while attempting to cross the River Meuse.
The unveiling of a new memorial in honour of Trebuchon is just one of the events planned for 2018, in The French Ardennes. Leading politicians have been invited to attend a special ceremony – with Trébuchon set to become a symbol of tragedy of The First World War.
For further information, visit http://gb.ardennes.com