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Life in the trenches

Discover the terrifying and desolating daily life of the soldiers during the First World War. They were the Poilus in France, the Tommies in the UK or the Jass in Belgium. Different names for the same men, permanently marked by the ravages of the Great War.

The estimated time needed to complete this itinerary is 3 days.

Experiences of the First World War

The First World War was a very significant event in our history. It was a truly dark era for those who lived through it. This conflict reached a scale and intensity never before seen. More soldiers died than in any other war before, the fighting was constant, and the destruction was incomparable at the time. It was a truly devastating period that we do not forget. Even today, we remember what Europe went through, and in the Land of Memory, we honor our shared past.

Now all together, we commemorate these events in this cross-border territory, which witnessed many battles from the 14-18 war. An itinerary dedicated to the Great War has been designed to retrace its participants’ history, discover its emblematic places, and remember its many victims. Whether you are passionate about the First World War or just curious to learn more about the daily life of ordinary soldiers and the history of this conflict, this unique route is perfect for you! It takes you to the heart of history to discover emblematic sites of remembrance in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Alone, with family or friends, and at any age, come and discover the First World War as you have never seen it before. On-site, you can transport yourself and imagine the tumultuous past through which our ancestors passed. In the Land of Memory, we feel, we live, and we remember.

An immersion in the daily life of the Poilus

We start this itinerary with the Douaumont Ossuary, an obligatory passage for meditation. From the top of its tower, you can enjoy a 360° view of the battlefield. Then, we pass by the trenches of Chattancourt before discovering the symbol of the poilus in 14-18, Verdun! The poilus was a nickname given to ordinary French foot soldiers. Today, the underground citadel offers the chance to experience the daily life of the garrison during a unique encounter thanks to virtual reality. You can put yourself in the shoes of a soldier, accompanied by three of his comrades, while you visit the galleries and the different sections of the citadel. Afterward, the Crête des Eparges offers an immersive experience in the life of the poilus in the trenches. Finally, you can’t miss the striking show “From Flames to Light.” With numerous special effects and more than 250 volunteer actors, it offers a total and educational immersion to understand the course of events that led to the conflicts then and a look at today’s Europe.

Next, travel in the direction of Belgian Luxembourg towards Virton to discover the Baillet Latour Museum in Gaume, which presents objects illustrating the battles of Ethe and Virton, as well as testimonies of the massacre of villagers at the beginning of the conflict. You can also take a walk that leads you in the footsteps of these terrifying days of the beginning of the First World War. Two kilometers away, don’t miss the Gaumais Museum, presenting the living heritage of Gaume, which preserves art objects related to the Great War. Finally, we go back north towards Rossignol to discover the brand new multimedia center dedicated to a terrible episode of the Battle of the Borders in August 1914. This new scenography puts in light and context the sites and monuments of the surroundings, painting a complete picture of what really happened. The Battle of the Borders, which saw thousands of French and German soldiers clash in the Ardennes and in Belgian Lorraine, has left its mark on the history of our villages.

Liège during the First World War

Our path ends in the Province of Liège. We stop at the Monument to Cavalier (Calveryman) Fonck is on your way. It will allow you to pay your respects to the first soldier to die in 1914. In Visé, you can go on a guided or free visit (via explanatory panels that are set up in the town and decorated with archive photos) during a walk entitled Memories of the Tragic Fortnight. A visit in the open air during which fictitious witnesses tell the terrible story of this town which was the first martyred town of the Great War. Complete this walk with a visit to the Regional Museum of Archaeology and History, which will tell you more about daily life during this troubled period.

Finally, the Fortified Position is a must to learn more about the belt of forts that formed the first barrier against the German army, and was also the first to experience the killing power of the Big Bertha. The 12 forts formed a belt around the city in 1914 and all of them suffered the fighting of the Great War. We suggest that you focus on the Fort de Pontisse and the Fort de Lantin, although all of them are worth seeing because of their specificity if you have the time. The former was heavily bombed during the Battle of Liège and is now a museum. It offers a “secret routes” tour, during which you can discover some well-hidden treasures of the defence! At the Fort de Lantin, you can take an audioguide tour of the building, which has remained unchanged since 1914. And why not enjoy an unusual night in the living conditions of the garrison at the time.

To sum up

Day 1 :

Day 2 :

Day 3 :

Life in the trenches : the podcast

Some of the sites on this route

Useful information

Pour plus d’informations, n’hésitez pas à consulter la liste de nos partenaires.

In detail

Belgium France
Distance 300-350 km
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