The War & Peace Museum in The French Ardennes will reopen its doors to the public in September, 2017.
Closed for refurbishment in 2008, the much anticipated reopening does now mean that The French Ardennes will have another major attraction for visitors to see during the build-up to, and the year of, the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War.
From France’s defeat at Sedan in 1870, to the end of the Second World War, The French Ardennes has stood at the crossroads of history – as well as in the very front line of conflict. And the Museum of War and Peace stands at the gateway to the sites and museums preserving the memory of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and the First and Second World Wars, in Novion-Porcien.
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.
Parts of the famous Maginot Line – a fortified underground system which was falsely proclaimed as being impenetrable – ran through The French Ardennes and while this will also be commemorated in the new-look Museum, it’s interesting to note that English-speaking guided tours below ground along the Line, can be booked in advance at Fort of La Ferté (http://www.ouvragelaferte.fr).
Weaponry, uniforms, packs and supplies and even details of how the troops entertained themselves during the long war years are all on display in the Museum – along with many other depictions of war, and peace.
The French Ardennes is also where the last French victim of the Great War, Augustin Joseph Trebuchon, fell – just fifteen minutes before the cease-fire at 11am on November 11th, 1918. Trebuchon 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 11th during the last offensive while attempting to cross the River Meuse. Augustine Trebuchon – unmarried and childless, and mobilized on August 4, 1914 – had fought on all fronts and was wounded twice before being killed at 10:45am on November 11th, 1918, fifteen minutes before his friend and solider-in-arms Delaluque had the honour of sounding his bugle here, in The French Ardennes, to mark the ceasefire.
Sticking with history, meanwhile, two new guided tours will be introduced in in Charleville-Mézières in 2017.
In Charleville, “The Beffroi” Tour will give visitor the chance to climb the tower and take-in the finest panoramic view of the town for the first time ever; while in Mézières a guided tour of one of the last remaining sections of the town’s historic fortifications, the “Tour du Roy” is set to be introduced in 2017.
Staying in Charleville-Mézières, the 2017 World Puppet Festival (www.festival-marionnette.com) will be another highlight for The French Ardennes region in 2017, when it is held from September 16-24. The whole region will once again revolve around the festival with almost 170,000 spectators and 100 companies coming together for one of the world’s most eye-catching artistic gatherings.
The nearby Sedan Medieval Festival (www.tourisme-sedan.fr), which has grown year-on-year to the point where it now attracts around 30,000 spectators, will take place in largest fortress in Europe over the weekend of May 20/21 in 2017.
Gastro-tourists will be interested to know that the food label ‘Ardennes de France’ (www.ardennes-de-france.com) celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2017. This is the brand which guarantees the quality of products made in The French Ardennes.
And The Cabaret Vert Music Festival (www.cabaretvert.com) is another save-the-date event in 2017 for anyone who wants to combine great music with great, local food and beer. Next year’s festival will take place from August 24-27.
Further details about The French Ardennes, meanwhile, will be featured in the new, 2017 edition of the Discovery Guide to The French Ardennes which can be ordered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephoning +33 324 56 06 08.
And for further information, visit http://gb.ardennes.com.