Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday, 10 February 2009 - Verdun

The Paris airports were closed today due to high winds. And they were strong! It hovered around 1 C, but it was freezing outside!

We went to McDonald's thinking to have something familiar for breakfast. But even though the names were in French, all the pictures of the stuff was different, too! It wasn't even the same food. [sigh] We did our best with what was there.

At Verdun, we found the huge castle-like place built into a hill, with all the tunnels that the soldiers stayed in during WWI (or as it is known here, The Great War): where they kept their stores, ate, slept and had medical facilities. It was very poorly ventilated and lit. We got a little train tour through some of the tunnels, with a dramatization of what it was like to live there and anticipate fighting in the battle. They fought there for 8 months, the front lines hardly moving at all. A million people were injured; half a million people were killed IN THIS ONE BATTLE ALONE! It was a sad place.

We drove around to different parts of the battle along the front line. Nine villages were destroyed and never rebuilt. At one place, an exploding missile buried 15 or so guys in their trench. Their bayonets could still be seen sticking up through the dirt. A monument has been built over them, leaving their bayonets still sticking out of the dirt where you can see them under the cement roof and pillars. Very eerie. And very cold.

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