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Modern photograph of an empty field and wood at dawn. The ground is covered by a thick mist.

2022 Traveling Battlefield Tour: Verdun and Saint-Mihiel

 

Saturday, September 17 - Thursday, September 22, 2022

Nourishing the lush vineyards of northeastern France is a soil storied and shattered by two of the 20th century’s most significant battles. Join the National WWI Museum and Memorial in exploring the hallowed forests and hollowed grounds of Verdun and the Saint-Mihiel Salient, their ruins a shrine to the endurance of Franco-American fraternité. The 2022 Battlefield Tour will be led in-person by Clive Harris and Mike St Maur Sheil.

 

  Planned Itinerary (may be subject to change):

 

The tour will start at 11 a.m. at the Citizen M Hotel Charles De Gaulle Airport. Our first stop is the Museum of the Great War in Meaux, the largest World War I museum in Europe, for an exclusive exploration of their gallery collections to provide interpretive context for the tour. We then continue onto our hotel, staying overnight in Vienne-le-Château. Evening meal and museum entry included.

Understanding Verdun—one of history’s most demanding battles—is essential to understanding the history of World War I and French identity. We begin the morning exploring the beautiful Northeastern French city and its memorials, museums and the scars of battle in its Town Centre to better grasp the idea of the French military system and homefront mindset during this time. After a local lunch, we follow the historic Voie Sacrée or “Sacred Way,” the communications and logistics road to the frontline. By December 1916, it had been traveled by over 3 million men, including young American volunteers. We hear their stories, along with that of Colonel Driant—a key figure during the opening phase of the battle—before ending deep in the forest of Verdun at the ruins of the village of Beaumont. Staying overnight in Vienne-le-Château, breakfast included.

Beginning at Froideterre Ouvrage, we delve into the scored topography and stories of the 1916 frontline. Tracing the footsteps of the heroic American Ambulance Field Service staff, we will explore the remains of a deep hospital shelter and visit the newly renovated Fleury Museum. After lunch in a café built immediately after WWI to feed battlefield pilgrims, we will spend the afternoon in commemoration in the shadow of the Douaumont Ossuary before heading to the Tranche Londres Line, where, with the legendary Fort Douaumont, the landscape bears witness to the ferocity of the ten-month battle in 1916 which was a “war within a war.” Staying overnight in Vienne-le-Château, breakfast included.

Starting with Fort Vaux, we trek to Fort Tavannes through the Batterie de l’Hopital, ending at the impressive Fort Souville complex with its Pamard casemates. In the afternoon, we transfer to the Saint-Mihiel Salient, first visiting the burial site of acclaimed French writer Alain Fournier and his companions. Guided by the words of Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel, we will then tread through the forest to a hidden German war-time cemetery before proceeding to the lunar landscape of Les Éparges, perhaps the most intensively mined sector of the Western Front. We conclude the day at Hattonchâtel, which was attacked by the US 102nd Infantry Regiment. Staying overnight in Saint-Mihiel, breakfast included.

Our day begins at the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Memorial atop Montsec, which affords a stunning view over the battlefield. Traversing down to the atmospheric trenches of Bois-le-Prétre and some of the most well-preserved German trenches on the Western Front in Fliery, we head to lunch at Pont-à-Mousson where the American Ambulance Field Service is honored by a striking memorial in the town square. Continuing onward to examine the notorious April 1918 German trench raid with the 26th ‘Yankee’ Division at Seicheprey, we pause at the beautiful cemetery at Thiaucourt before ending the day canopied under the woods of Aprémont, where we follow the story of a French commander and his unit’s famous last stand. Staying overnight in Saint-Mihiel, breakfast and evening meal included.

Leaving our hotel, we head for Paris where guests can return on a morning flight to the U.S. or begin their own exploration of the City of Lights.

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Modern photograph of the remains of a concrete structure and steel rebar sticking up from the ground in an empty, misty field surrounded by trees.

Registrations for the 2022 Battlefield Tour are now closed.

 

Please reach out to us at travel@theworldwar.org or 816.888.8113 for questions about your Battlefield Tour reservations.

 


 

$2300 double occupancy (registrants who do not opt to get their own hotel room)
$2550 single occupancy (registrants who opt to get their own hotel room for $250 extra)


Payable in two installments - $500 per person deposit due by March 31. Full amount will be billed on June 30, 2022.

 


 

Costs include:

  • Pick up and drop off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, bus, driver and guides throughout tour
  • 5 nights accommodation (includes morning meals and two evening meals)
  • Small group size

It does not include:

  • Flights to and from France
  • Most evening meals
  • Incidentals

Travel Insurance

Traveler is responsible for securing their own optional travel insurance.

Flight

We encourage scheduling your arrival the day before the tour begins to avoid any risk of a delayed flight.

 


 

As we explore century-old battlefields, expect to walk across uneven terrain – rewarded by breath-taking views. If you have questions on mobility and accessibility, please contact travel@theworldwar.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: Modifications may occur due to current global travel restrictions.
If you have any questions, please contact us at travel@theworldwar.org or 816.888.8113.
 

All participants should meet at the designated meeting place and time, provided with your tour information. It is recommended to arrive in the destination city the day before the tour, giving you ample time to meet at the gathering place.

Once you receive the green light to purchase your airfare, please forward your arrival time and flight number to the Museum and Memorial's Learning Coordinator at travel@theworldwar.org. This will assist guides in roll call before starting the tour.

Please see the itinerary sent by the guides. The itinerary is loose, allowing flexibility in visiting additional sites.

Please see the itinerary sent by the guides. Breakfast, WiFi and laundry services are generally available.

Breakfasts and at least one group dinner are covered under your registration. Lunches and other dinners are not included, unless otherwise specified. Please notify us immediately if you have any special dietary requirements. For most destinations, lunches will be approximately €15-€20 and dinners approximately €35.

Participants will travel by coach (bus) between cities and will walk around most sites.

The bus will have A/C and heating, a refrigerator, a restroom and complimentary water.

  • Comfortable outdoor wear (e.g. T-shirts, jeans, shorts.) Avoid wearing clothing with large, loud logos.
  • Sweater or lightweight fleece
  • Appropriate footwear (e.g. walking shoes). A change of footwear is also advised.
  • Waterproof outer layers (light jacket)
  • Hat and sunscreen

  • Passport
  • Medicine (in your carry on!)*
  • Camera or phone
  • Toiletries
  • Night clothes
  • Socks and underwear
  • Satchel/day pack
  • Electricity adapters for destination countries
  • Portable power bank (if you have one)
  • Waterproof jacket (and trousers if you have them)
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Large plastic bag for worn clothes

* Note on medicine: should be kept in its original packing, and kept in your carry-on along with a copy of any doctor's prescription. Please consult with State Department travel information to ensure that your prescriptions are not prohibited in the destination countries. Most over-the-counter medicines can be obtained abroad, though they may have different names than those in the U.S. One of the guides, where possible, will accompany you to a pharmacy (widely available) to assist with replacements, if needed.

Unfortunately, due to the size and schedule of the coach, you will not be able to be dropped off at your hotel by bus. If you need assistance returning to your hotel:

  • See if your hotel has a shuttle service—communicate when and where you’ll need to be picked up.
  • If a shuttle is unavailable, the guides can assist you in finding a taxi.
  • If you’d prefer to use public transportation, the guides can assist you in getting the correct ticket/line.

Battle Honours hosts nearly 60 tours yearly and has been in the battlefield touring business for 15 years—many of the guides are former military or police. They have thoroughly assessed any potential risks that may occur during the tour—you will not be visiting any areas that may compromise your safety. Security is both their specialty and priority—you will be in very capable hands. To secure your money and passport, we recommend investing in a wearable money belt/pouch.

We recommend bringing at least €200 in local currency, but how much you bring is truly a personal preference. Please make sure to notify your banks that you will be out of the country if you plan on taking your debit/credit/bank cards.

  • VISA is most readily accepted; American Express/Discover are not accepted at most places.
  • Cards issued by a smaller, regional bank that don’t have backing from larger institutions will not likely be accepted.
  • ATMs are accessible everywhere for cash withdrawal—withdrawal fees/exchange rates may apply.

You will need to contact your service provider to arrange an international plan (plans vary by provider.) To avoid roaming charges, we recommend turning off apps needing WiFi data before departure. Set your phone to “Airplane Mode” before boarding your overseas flight.

Yes! The guides cater the tour itinerary to these requests. Send the name, rank, and any key military/occupational identification of your WWI ancestor to Clive Harris and Mike Sheil approximately two months before departure, to give ample time for research.

Yes, please do! These really help bring your ancestor’s story come to life on the battlefield. Please let the guides know what items you’ll be bringing before packing them.

Participants can expect to walk multiple miles each day across uneven, unpaved terrain. Please make sure you have comfortable, sturdy walking shoes. Battlefield maps will be provided by guides on-site and via email to the participants.

Generally, weather will be warm to mild, and potentially rainy. Feel free to pack a light jacket for the evening and a day pack that includes snacks as you travel off the beaten path.

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Modern photograph of a long row of white crosses stretching away from the viewer.

 

About Clive Harris

Raised in Hertfordshire, Clive developed a lifelong fascination with history. He spent seven years with the Royal Corps of Signals, serving operationally overseas with the 1st Armoured Division in BAOR — an Infantry attachment with the Royal Green Jackets, in Cyprus, Germany and France — and finally taking an instructor’s post in the Signals Wing of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. On leaving the army he joined his local Constabulary, serving 11 years in their Force Operations Room as a specialist communications officer and control room manager. In 1998, he began working as a speaker, writer, researcher and battlefield guide and since then has guided groups to the Somme, Ypres, Arras, Mons, Cambrai, The Hindenburg Line, Verdun, and Gallipoli for the Great War, as well as Normandy, Arnhem, The Italian Campaign, and of course the London Blitz for the Second World War. Clive is a Badged Member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides (No33) and also a member of the British Commission for Military History.

About Mike St Maur Sheil

Mike is the award-winning curator of Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace 1914-1918. After studying Geography at Oxford, in the early 1970s Mike began his career as a photojournalist covering “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Here he became associated with the New York picture agency, Black Star, and over thirty years later he is still in the fortunate position of being paid to do what he loves doing — taking photographs. Mike has visited over 60 countries around the world, working for a wide range of clients such as ABC-TV, BBC, Anti-Slavery International, British Red Cross, European Commission, National Geographic, The New York Times, Shell, Time and Time Life.

Images courtesy of Mike St Maur Sheil / Fields of Battle 1418

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Logo for Battle Honours