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Travelling through France- worth visiting War Memorials?

(9 Posts)
tiredemma Wed 01-Jun-11 12:25:39

We are going to stay with family near Lake Annecy in July- normally fly out to Geneva airport but I find the airport so horrendous (especially on return) that we are now contemplating going via eith Portsmouth (and seeing Normandy War memorials) or going via dover to calais and visiting memorials in that area.

DS1 has expressed a massive interest for such a long time, not sure if its a good idea though? (he is a mature 10)

we would then stay one night (perhaps Reims?) before travelling onto Annecy.

Never travelled this way before- really bored senseless of the airport route and fancy doing something different- any suggestions/info?

LIZS Wed 01-Jun-11 13:29:38

From Calais the Somme is ok , lots of fields really. Thiepval memorial is probably worth a stop and maybe the site of the rail car near Compiegne where 1918 treaty was signed but I would n't take a child to Verdun (and it is out of your way). Normandy is ok we took dc (12 and 8) last year. Memorials at Caen and Bayeux, the d-day beaches and Pegasus Bridge not far off.

Kiwinyc Wed 01-Jun-11 13:30:16

We are driving to the Alps for our summer holiday this year and our outbound itinerary has us driving from London, taking the eurotunnel and staying just south of Reims on the first night, and then in Annecy on the second. On our way back we're staying outside Dijon and then Lens, where I had a thought to visit some battleground or war memorial or something. I don't think there's any harm in it imo and my older DD (8) is a keen reader of the Michael Morpurgo books which have a war theme so i think it'd be interesting for her to get an idea of where they're set.

vvviola Wed 01-Jun-11 13:42:25

I know both areas well (military history nut married to another military history nut - I feel vaguely sorry for our DCs! DD at almost 4 has probably been to more military cemeteries and memorials than she would ever wish to)

There's probably a bit more 'interest' in the Normandy side. D-Day beaches, Arromanches, Caen, Pegasus Bridge. There's some very good museums and you have the big 'impressive' cemeteries which give a good idea of the scale of the whole thing (and you can still spot old pill boxes dotted around the countryside). All completely suitable for a 10 year old IMO. (The American cemetery near Omaha Beach is particularly impressive, but if you are used to the quiet restrained Commonwealth ones, the playing of anthems/music at regular intervals is a bit unnerving)

On the Calais side - there's not really quite as much. Although, if he already has some knowledge of WW2, it might be a good introduction to WW1. The Thiepval memorial is impressive - and they have a good museum/information centre there. There's also a great museum in the tunnels under Arras - the tour is pretty good, we're pretty well read up on the era, and still learnt new things. Otherwise, a lot of the WW1 stuff is just beginning to blend into the background a bit - small cemeteries and memorials dotted about the place, it's actually really one of the things I love about it - it's just there, part of the landscape.

Although, really, if you can for WW1, Flanders (Belgium) is really the place to go. Ieper (Ypres) being the best place - a great museum in the Cloth Hall in town, some fascinating sites surrounding it. Probably too far out of your way? (Although Ieper is probably only an hour and a half from Calais)

Oops. That was a bit long. Sorry. Short answer - either idea is well worth the trip, and I don't think your son is too young at all for any of them.

tiredemma Wed 01-Jun-11 13:43:41

thank you- will have a look on the internet at your recommendations.

Kiwi- might follwo your lead! sounds lie a good itinery

tiredemma Wed 01-Jun-11 13:44:58

vv- thank you- excellent- lots to take in there. thanks again

jamaisjedors Wed 01-Jun-11 13:52:13

Yes Kiwi's itinerary sounds good. We live in Normandy and drive down to the Alps quite a lot.

Caen memorial museum is very good - not sure how much is in English?

It's a long way down to Annecy from here, about 8h. We went at Easter, and did it in 2 legs - we avoided motorways and drove via Chartres (cathedral, nice town), and stayed overnight near the Loire river at Briare. Then we drove across to Macon, then Lyon, then Annecy area.

We enjoyed being OFF the motorways and being able to stop wherever we wanted.

Waswondering Wed 01-Jun-11 13:52:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

stringbean Wed 01-Jun-11 21:04:01

We stopped at Vimy Ridge on the way back to Calais from Paris last year. It's close to the motorway and well worth a look. There are two parts to it as I recall, one with a memorial, and one which still has trenches that you can go inside - there are also tunnels that you can tour but you would need to check times in advance. Ds was 8 at the time and it made an impression on him, particularly how close the trenches were to each other - the soldiers could have had conversations with the enemy. The whole place was incredibly peaceful - we stopped there for a picnic - astonishing to think how it must once have been.

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