Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Battle of Verdun One hundred Years Ago

On February 21, 1916 begun the battle of Verdun, considered to be one of the bloodiest battles and the most emblematic of the World War I conflict.  This battle lasted for 300 days and 300 nights of uninterrupted fighting (February 21 till December 18) between French and German forces.  Verdun is situated in Northeastern France on the bank of the river Meuse in the region of Lorraine.  The First World War had already begun a year and half earlier in August 1914 and battles had been fought in Flanders (Belgium), the  Marne, the Somme and Picardy regions of France involving on the Allied side: French, Belgium,  British and Commonwealth troops.

Fort of Douaumont
In the early hours of February 21, the German army undertook a sudden and brutal offensive attack, in the Verdun  sector which had been relatively calm until this time.  Unprepared, the French positions were attacked by a non-stop barrage of heavy  artillery (some one million and half shells fell in one day); four days later, the German captured the Douaumont fortress. As the French fought  back to hold onto their positions, the conflict became a bloody stalemate - soldiers fought in an area of 20 km2 to gain a few meters and then losing some. Total hell on earth.

Shell Craters of the Verdun Battlefield.
It is estimated that there were 700,000 casualties (170,000 French and 150, 000 Germans died plus countless injured and those lost in action who could not be identified). Not mentioning the hundreds of thousands of horses who died in the battlefield.  About  40 million artillery rounds were expended in the course of the ten month battle making it one of the costliest in men, horses and material in the history of humanity.

Verdun Battlefield can be visited from Paris as a day trip by minibus tours or as a private guided or self-drive tour.  A visit of the Verdun battlefields should include:

  • Fort of Douaumont- A heavily armed concrete fort built in the rock used as a system of defense.  You can tour 3 levels of galleries , observations platforms, gun turrets, barrack rooms. As a young officer,  Charles de Gaulle was stationed and fought at the Douaumont Fort.
  • Douaumont Ossuary- It contains the remains of 130,000 unknown soldiers French, German and others. 
  • Douaumont Military Cemetery-facing the Douaumont Memorial,  here lay over 16,000  French soldiers who died on the battle field making it the largest French military cemetery.
  • Bayonets Trench Monument-symbolizing the soldiers who fought and died in the trenches.
  • Verdun Memorial-newly reopened. It displays photos, memorabilia, armament, uniforms, and vehicles used during the batttle.
  • Destroyed Villages - Nine villages in the fighting zone were totally razed during the battle of Verdun. All that remain are markers symbolizing the outlines of the houses and public buildings. These ghost villages  are moving memorials of the ravage of war. 
  • Underground Citadel in Verdun- The logistic and command center during the Battle of Verdun.  After the war, it is in the underground citadel that the selection of the unknown soldier to be buried under the Arc de Triomphe took place.  On a tour of the Citadel, you can view a reconstitution of this ceremony. 

Images: Douaumont  Ossuary.

In 1984, French President Francois Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, met at the Douaumont Memorial and held hand for a brief moment as a sign of European reconciliation and friendship.

To book your tour of Verdun and other WWI  battlefields, contact Enchanted France or call us toll free 866 313 2856.

#travelFrance #Verdun #tourVerdun #enchantedFrancetours #vacationinginFrance #historytours, #WWItours

Thursday, February 18, 2016

In the Footsteps of Impressionist Paris -April 10-17

This spring come follow in the footsteps of Impressionist Paris, a unique tour custom designed by Enchanted France - April 10-17, 2016

Monet-Impression Soleil Levant
The Impressionist art movement was born in Paris in the third quarter of the 19th century.  The term impressionism was coined by art critic Louis Leroy in an article written in the daily paper  Le Charivari on April 25, 1874.  In it he tells of visiting an art exhibit staged by a  group  calling themselves Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Engravers etcwhere he discovers the works of  Claude Monet whose painting Impression Soleil Levant he trashed and mocked. Undetered,  the group of artists that included Claude Monet, Pierre August Renoir, Alfred Sisley, Paul Cezanne, Camille Pissaro, Berthe Morissot and Edgar Degas adopted the term of Impressionism and went on to exhibit in eight successive independent salons held in Paris from 1874 to 1886.

Caillebotte-Pont de l'Europe
Artists of the Impressionist art movement rejected the traditional and conventional academic style of painting favored by the art world of the era instead they preferred a looser, brighter, more realistic and freer way to represent the world they perceived and lived in.  They took their easel and sketch books and went outside to depict city streets, cafe life, everyday people, bourgeois interiors, seashore and countryside.

Join us for a tour of Impressionist Paris and the Seine Valley including Rouen, Giverny, Moret sur Loing and Auvers sur Oise where we will follow in the footsteps of Renoir, Monet, Sisley, van Gogh and others.  Book Today. Space is limited.

Tour date: April 10-17

Highlights include:
    van Gogh-Church in Auvers 
  • Paris: Montmartre and other Parisian sites that inspired the Impressionists
  • Visit the Orsay Museum where many masterpieces of Impressionism are on display
  • Rouen: visit Notre Dame Cathedral, often the subject of
    paintings by Monet
  • Giverny: visit the house and garden of Monet ; Also we will tour
    the special exhibit featuring Caillebotte
  • Moret sur Loing and Barbizon: Visit the village often painted by Sisley ; as well as Barbizon, famous for its school of painting
  • Auvers sur OiseVan Gogh’s life ended in this little village
    outside of Paris ; we will visit the inn where he lived and the cemetery where he lays alongside his beloved brother Theo.

For more information and reservation, visit In the Footsteps of Impressionists or call toll free
866 313 2856.

#ParisTour #VisitFrance #Impressionism

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bonjour Carnival

Courtesy: Nice Office de Tourisme
King Carnival is back in sunny Nice on the French Riviera where he is welcome with his royal court for two weeklong fun-filled festivities (February 13-28) . While most of France is shivering in cold  February,  the Cote d'Azur enjoys balmy temperatures and sunny blue sky, perfect weather to celebrate  with parades the traditional Mardi Gras Carnival.

Nice Carnival tradition goes back to the Middle Ages.  It was first mentioned in 1294 in an account by Charles of Anjou, Count of Provence.  At the time it was a celebration leading up to  Lent where revelers celebrated the concept of transgression by dressing up, putting on masks and costumes.  The present day Nice Carnival begun to take its forms  late 19th century.  Nice carnival is unique in that it consists of parades of giant colorful figures made of papier-mâché and flower decorated floats.  Each year,  carnival centers around  a theme and  this year it is the  "King of Media" where freedom of expression, media in all its forms, the benefits medias bring and the excesses they create is celebrated.

Courtesy: Nice Office du Tourisme
The parades of flower bedecked floats accompanied by thousands of musicians snake along the coastal seafront on Promenade des Anglais and Avenue Massena, Nice's main avenue, loudly cheered by happy revelers.  Unique to Nice's carnival are the flower battles in which at top floats  young local ladies toss hundred of thousands of flowers to the happy crowds. Ninety percent of the flowers used at the parades are produced locally --jasmine, gladiolus, mimosa, daisies, carnations and roses --allowing  the region on this occasion to showcase its production.

Courtesy: Nice Office du Tourisme

At night a parade of illuminated floats snake up along the boulevards and on the last night of carnival (February 28)  fireworks display will light up the sky over the Mediterranean Sea.

For travel to Nice, the French Riviera, Paris and exciting destinations in France, contact  for custom itineraries.

tags: #FrenchRiviera, #NiceCarnival #travelFrance #Nice #Coted'Azur