Paris to Verdun Day Trip: The Perfect Itinerary (2024)

For the past six years, I’ve been lucky enough to call France my home, and even more lucky to have spent three of those years living in Paris.

And, while I loved my life in the City of Light, I used that time to explore other parts of France.

Of the day trips that I took, there’s one spot that has a special place in my heart – Verdun.

Just a train ride from Paris, Verdun is a town full of history. It’s known for its role in World War I and is packed with museums, memorials, and battlefields.

In this post, I’ll share with you the perfect Paris to Verdun day trip itinerary. It has everything you need to guarantee an amazing visit.

This is the ultimate Paris to Verdun Day Trip
A Day Trip from Paris to Verdun

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Paris to Verdun Day Trip Overview

If you’re short on time, here is an overview of my helpful guide.

  • Morning: Travel to Verdun, Verdun Memorial Museum, Fleury-Devant-Douaumont, Douaumont Ossuary, Trench of Bayonets, Fort Douaumont, and Fort de Vaux
  • Afternoon: Lunch on Quai de Londres, Underground Citadel of Verdun, Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun, Verdun Cathedral, Porte Chaussée
  •  Evening: Return to Paris

How to Get to Verdun from Paris

This is the front of Verdun's Train station. It's a square building with the name of the train station on it.
Verdun’s Train Station

There are tons of ways to get from Paris to Verdun, but, for this day trip, I recommend taking either the train or renting a car.

I’ve done both and I’ll cover the advantages of each below.

Helpful Tip: The way you take to get to Verdun will be the same way you return to Paris.

By Train

Taking the train from Paris to Verdun is an easy and affordable option.

There are no direct trains, and you’ll have one change at the Meuse TGV station. From there, a shuttle will take you to Verdun’s train station.

Helpful Tip: This might sound complicated, but I’ve done this trip tons of times. The bus is in front of the exit of the Meuse TGV station and the driver waits for everyone.

The total travel time is about 1 hour 45 minutes and tickets range from €40-50 roundtrip.

I recommend leaving early in the morning, so you have enough time to visit everything.

Book and Purchase your Train Tickets here ➔

By Car

The journey from Paris to Verdun takes about three hours along the A4 highway, depending on traffic.

Renting a car will be more expensive than taking the train, but you’ll have far more flexibility.

And, from personal experience, it’s much easier to visit the Verdun Battlefields by car than by foot.

Helpful Tip: The Verdun Battlefields aren’t in downtown Verdun. So, if you don’t have a car, you’ll have to take a taxi from the train station. And once you arrive, the only way to get around is by foot.

Get the Best Rental Rates here ➔

One Day in Verdun: 11 Things to Do

Now that you know how to travel from Paris to Verdun, let’s dive into all the incredible things you can do in one day in this historic French town.

1. Visit the Verdun Memorial Museum

This is the first exhibit at the Verdun Memorial Museum. It's a map of Verdun and there are circles around it showing how big the battle got.
Verdun Memorial Museum

The first stop on your day trip is the Verdun Memorial Museum.

Here you’ll learn about one of the most intense battles of World War I, the Battle of Verdun.

Helpful Tip: This is also where you’ll buy your tickets to visit the Verdun Battlefields.

These are photographs of soldiers at the Verdun Memorial Museum. There are hundreds of photos lined up on a wall.
Photographs at the Verdun Memorial Museum

The museum is spread across three floors. And, as you walk through the exhibits, you’ll come face-to-face with over 2,000 objects and documents from the war, each telling a piece of the story.

You’ll start on the ground floor with an overview of the Battle of Verdun. There’s a map showing where it took place and the key sites. And until I saw it, I hadn’t realized how big this battle was.

You’ll see firsthand what happened on the front line. There are trucks, uniforms, photographs, and videos to help you imagine it.

These were metals warded to soldiers at the Verdun Memorial Museum. There are several rows of names of soldiers and the metals they got.
Metals

The second floor goes into the events that took place on both sides of the line and the role airplanes played in the war.

This is also where you’ll find the metals of honor that were issued to those soldiers who displayed bravery.

I found this exhibit to be very moving. There were cases upon cases of metals showing all the acts of bravery and heroism.

Then, on the top floor, you’ll have a stunning panorama of the battlefields and a sneak peek of the next activities.

Address: 1 Avenue Corps Européen

2. Discover Fleury-devant-Douaumont

This is an empty dirt path in Fleury-Devant-Douaumont Battle Site in Verdun. There are trees in the background and grass on either side of the path.
Fleury-Devant-Douaumont

Fleury-Devant-Douaumont was one of the most moving sites I visited in Verdun.

Before the war, Fleury was a thriving village of 400 inhabitants. But it was caught in the line of fire and was destroyed.

The village changed hands an astonishing 16 times during the conflict and was never rebuilt afterward. Instead, it was left as it was – a powerful memorial to the horrors of war.

Today, it’s known as “the village that died for France.”

When I walked through the village remains, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss.

It’s incredible to think that this was once a place where people lived.

The area itself was very peaceful and there was some hidden beauty in the sadness.

Helpful Tip: This area can be hard to find. I recommend having an offline map on your phone so you don’t get lost.

3. Explore Douaumont Ossuary

This is Douaumont Ossuary. There is a tall pointed monument and in front of it there are thousands of white crosses.
Douaumont Ossuary

The Douaumont Ossuary is one of the most significant memorials at the Verdun Memorial.

It honors the 130,000 unidentified soldiers (from both sides) who perished during the Battle of Verdun.

But the total casualties between the 21st of February to the 18th of December 1916 were more than 700,000.

The soldiers at Douaumont Ossuary are those who could not be identified.

Needless to say, I remained speechless while I toured this part of the memorial.

The tombs are located inside the cloister of the Ossuary. Each tomb contains the remains of a soldier that was found on the battlefield.

Then on the walls, you’ll see inscriptions. These are the names of those who never returned home.

After you’ve toured the cloister, I recommend going up to the main tower, the Ossuary Tower.

From here, you’ll have a beautiful panorama of the battlefields.

Address: Place Mgr Ginisty

4. Visit the Trench of Bayonets

This is the Trench of Bayonets. It's a filled trench that is covered is a cement bridge. There are crosses in the ground where the soldiers were found.
Trench of Bayonets

When I did this day trip, I visited the Trench of Bayonets after the Douaumont Ossuary. And I almost cried.

This marks the spot where the opposition launched a surprise attack on the French.

Unable to escape the intense bombing, they died standing in the trenches. And the only thing that remained visible was their bayonets.

It’s slightly out of the way from the other sites listed here but it’s worth the visit.

5. Tour Fort Douaumont

This is Fort Douaumont. It's a section of the fort that was underground and there is the entrance. It's surrounded by hills of grass.
Fort Douaumont

Fort Douaumont was built after the Franco-Prussian War to protect the northernmost border in eastern France.

Interesting Fact: After the Franco-Prussian War, cities like Metz, Mulhouse, and Strasbourg were all annexed to Germany. In fact, Strasbourg’s history was as horrendous as Verdun’s.

But during World War 1, it was gradually stripped of its resources. Manpower was needed on the battlefield and so the fort was emptied.

Then in February 1916, German forces seized Fort Douaumont and used it as a transit point for entering and leaving the battlefield.

The French attempted to regain the fort in May but failed. They tried again in October and succeeded.

This was the first fort I visited, and I was simply amazed at the scale of it. You can take a self-guided tour and learn about its history.

There are information boards detailing everything you’ll need to know.

Even though the top of the fort was covered in grass, I could still see the holes where the bombs landed. It, actually, reminded me of the Fort des Dunes in Dunkirk.

6. Explore Fort de Vaux

This is Fort de Vaux. There are rolling fields of grass where the bombs hit and a forest in the distance.
Fort de Vaux

Like Fort Douaumont, Fort de Vaux was created along the newly formed border after France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War.

It provided several advantages, the biggest being the view over the Woëvre Plain and the border that was created in 1870.

The fort was abandoned in 1915, and the soldiers and artillery were sent to the battlefield where they were desperately needed.

It was seized by the Germans in July 1916 who later evacuated it in November 1916 when the French moved in.

Much of the area is covered with grass, but you can still see where the bombs hit.

Then, in the distance is a vast forest.

This area was a designated red zone, but it was bought by the French government so they could reintroduce life into the area. It stretched for as far as I could see.

It’s hard to believe that the largest and bloodiest battle of World War 1 happened right here.

Helpful Tip: This was the last site I visited on my day trip. I explored the entire area on foot, so I headed back to the museum to get a taxi to downtown Verdun.

7. Have Lunch on Quai de Londres

This is Quai de Londres in Verdun. There is the river with a boat on the quay. In the distance there are restaurants and cafés.
Quai de Londres

After a morning of discovering the forts, it’s time for lunch.

And there’s no better place to take a break than Quai de Londres in downtown Verdun.

The street is lined with charming cafés and bistros overlooking the river.

One of my favorite restaurants was Le Bistro d’Elo. It’s a cozy place with outdoor seating and delicious food.

I had the filet de poulet. It was cooked to perfection and the sauce was beyond tasty.

8. Visit the Underground Citadel of Verdun

This is a tunnel in Underground Citadel of Verdun. It's a long dark tunnel with a light at the end.
Underground Citadel of Verdun

The Citadel of Verdun was built between 1567 and 1634. It was meant to fortify the city, but, when France was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War, it was destroyed.

So, to secure the border, an underground citadel was built. It proved to be a key refuge and supply depot for the city of Verdun during the First World War.

There were offices, storage facilities, recovery rooms, dormitories, and even a bakery. And, despite the continuous bombings, it remained untouched for the duration of the war.

Today, you can tour the citadel’s winding tunnels.

The journey begins with an overview of the history of Verdun during World War 1. Then, you’ll board a small train that will take you through the underground passages.

You’ll also get a virtual headset so you can see what it looked like back in the day.

I loved seeing the different rooms and listening to the first-hand accounts of what went on in the citadel. It was a fascinating experience.

Helpful Tip: Bring a jacket for the underground part of the museum. It’s very cold and humid, even in summer.

Address: Avenue du Soldat Inconnu (formally Avenue du 5ème RAP)

9. Discover the Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun

This is Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun. There is a statue of a solider leaning on his sword. There is a row of flowers and two sets of stairs on either side that lead to the monument.
Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun

The Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun is dedicated to all those who lost their life in the Battle of Verdun.

It consists of 73 steps leading to a statue of a warrior resting on his sword. Below it lies a crypt preserving the records of those awarded the Medal of Verdun.

Then, every year, on the 1st of November, the flame from the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is beneath Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, is brought here.

It burns at the Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun for eleven days and returns to Paris on Armistice Day.

If you’re in town on either of these, I recommend adding this event to your itinerary. It’s a very moving experience.

Address: Avenue de la Victoire

10. Appreciate the Verdun Cathedral

This is the inside of the Verdun Cathedral. There is a row leading to the altar and two rows of wooden chairs on either side.
The Verdun Cathedral

The Verdun Cathedral stands as the oldest church in Lorraine, dating more than a thousand years.

Much of the church was destroyed during World War 1, so much so that the exterior was never restored.

But when I visited, I thought it was stunning. It’s not as remarkable as the gorgeous Notre Dame Cathedral in Amiens, but it definitely holds its own.

As you can see in the photo I took above, the inside is also very impressive.

Take a moment to admire the stained-glass windows and, if you have time, I recommend visiting the crypt, which dates to the 12th century.

Address: 7 Place Mgr Ginisty

11. Check Out Porte Chaussée

This is Porte Chaussée. It's has two towers and there is a bridge leading to it and water flowing under the bridge.
Porte Chaussée

Porte Chaussée was built in the late 14th century and served as one of three gates to Verdun. Then, from 1755 to 1860, it functioned as a military prison.

There are only a few remaining pieces of the Grand Ramparts, and this gate is one of them.

While you can’t enter the tower, you can tour the monument for free.

It, actually, reminded me of the Porte de la Craffe in Nancy, which was built around the same time.

For a beautiful view, head to the walkway that passes below the bridge. That’s where I took the photo above.

Address: Rue Chaussée

Conclusion: Day Trip from Paris to Verdun

The Battle of Verdun was a defining moment in World War 1 and there’s no better place to learn about it than Verdun.

So, if you have a day to spare in Paris, I recommend taking a trip to Verdun.

From exploring the underground tunnels to walking through battlefields, it will no doubt be an educational trip.

Not to mention the town itself is beyond gorgeous.

So, now that you know how to organize your day in Verdun, it’s time to plan your trip. Why not start by organizing your visit to Paris? I recommend going in the summer. The weather is perfect and there are so many things to see and do.


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Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

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