2018 Day 40 – Verdun

Another glorious day in the beautiful Verdun. We explore the right bank this morning – it seems much more residential than the old city, on the left bank.

Even so, there’s still plenty to see: the magnificent 14th century city gates, the Hotel de Ville

and a WWII monument.

The views from across the river are rather fabulous too, especially when the river stills.

A walk along the river reveals hundreds of fish ranging from shoals mere inches long around 18 inches.

It’s obviously a healthy system and goes a long way to explaining the fishermen we see. No otters though. If I was an otter, I’d want to live here.

All that activity naturally leads to lunch. We’ve truly jagged perfect weather with one day after the other of moderate temperatures and clear skies. Glorious. Restaurants perused and chosen, we settle in by the water: Chris has a fabulous burger, fancified with a round of grilled Munster cheese (oh so tasty).

I can’t resist the call of truffle in a ricotta ravioli dish.

Aptly accompanied by a local red, it’s a memorable meal.

A little more exploring after lunch. We find a great deli and nearby patisserie – but there’s no way after that lunch.

I do rather fancy these catty shopping trolleys though…

and I’m not sure there’s a more charmingly named Scotch anywhere!

Chris heads off to tour the Citadelle Souterraine de Verdun in the late afternoon while I catch up with my writing.

He reports back as follows: the Citadel was built as an underground defence mechanism between 1886 and 1893, housing up to 2,000 men. With 9 bread ovens, the Citadel was geared up to serve over 40,000 meal rations a day. Across 4 km of subterranean tunnels, it afforded accommodation for offices, dormitories, ammunition stores and even a switchboard.

The Citadelle played a vital role in the 1916 battle of Verdun. Even with these defences, 275,000 French soldiers were killed, as were 275,000 German soldiers and a further 800,000 people were injured. The battle raged from February to December – over 1,000,000 artillery shells were launched at Verdun. The evidence of the shelling is everywhere, with gouges out of buildings and fences. It’s believed to be the longest battle in history.

In 1920, a military survivor selected an unknown soldier from Verdun to rest in the Arc de Triomphe. He was presented with 8 unknown soldiers. To make the selection, he added up the numbers of his regiment, which came to 6, and so the 6th coffin now rests in the heart of Paris, in eternal memorial.

I can’t resist another walk at twilight.

We’re right on the river, and across from that there’s a lake. With the waters perfectly still, it’s a beautiful setting with mirrored reflections.

Another night here: we’re hoping to visit the covered market tomorrow morning.

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