Dabbling in Jet Lag
Wondering about the most amazing things to do in Verdun?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Not only do I live in France, but I’ve traveled extensively throughout the country. And, today, I’m excited to share with you what I discovered in Verdun.
From riveting museums to gorgeous medieval architecture, Verdun has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to do a day trip from Paris or spend the weekend, I’ve got you covered. I’ll show you all the amazing things to do so that you can plan the perfect trip.
So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Map of Verdun
- 17 Best Things to Do in Verdun
- Best Time to Visit Verdun
- Best Hotels in Verdun
- Best Restaurants in Verdun
- Getting to Verdun
- Getting Around Verdun
- FAQs About Things to Do in Verdun
- Conclusion: Things to Do in Verdun
Map of Verdun
Below is a map containing all the sites listed in this guide. Click on the map to open Google Maps.
17 Best Things to Do in Verdun
There’s no shortage of exciting things to do in Verdun. In fact, it’s even worth adding to your journey through the east of France.
So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of Verdun’s top 17 tourist attractions and things that I recommend you do while visiting. I’ve even included some hidden gems to get you off the typical tourist path!
1. Tour Le Memorial de Verdun and the Verdun Battlefields
If you’re looking for the best thing to do in Verdun, this is it.
The Verdun Memorial is a war memorial and museum located at the site of the Battle of Verdun. And stands as a tribute to all those who lost their lives during the conflict.
Interesting Fact: The Battle of Verdun was the longest and bloodiest battle of World War 1. It lasted from the 21st of February to the 18th of December 1916. And the casualties totaled more than 700,000.
This is a gigantic site with tons of places to visit. But I’ve narrowed it down to a few key places that should be on the top of your list.
First is the Verdun Memorial Museum located at the welcome center. Here you’ll learn about Verdun’s role in World War I through an impressive collection of artifacts. From military equipment to uniforms, it’s like taking a step back in time.
Then there is the open-air museum. This is where you’ll get to tour the Verdun Battlefields as well as some other significant sites.
- Douaumont Ossuary
- Trench of Bayonets
- Fort Douaumont
- Fort de Vaux
If this magnificent place doesn’t make France worth visiting, I don’t know what is!
Useful Tip: I walked this entire site on foot, and it was exhausting. If you want to see everything, I recommend renting a car or a bike.
Address: 1 Avenue Corps Européen
2. Visit the Underground Citadel of Verdun
The history of Verdun’s Underground Citadel began with King Henry II. He sought to fortify the city and found this was the best way to do so. Construction was completed in 1634 but further improvements continued under King Louis XIV.
Unfortunately, France lost much of the Alsace-Moselle region to Prussia in 1871. And the Citadel was destroyed. As a result, Verdun had to refortify the border. Rather than build a structure above ground, tunnels and galleries were built beneath the Citadel.
Interesting Fact: Many cities in this part of France were given to Germany after the Franco-Prussian War. And it’s not uncommon for people who travel to this area to ask “Is Strasbourg a part of Germany or France?“
And, in 1916, when the Battle of Verdun began, the Citadel was turned into a refuge.
Here nurses cared for the wounded and bakers prepared food. It was also a place for soldiers to enjoy various forms of entertainment and combat the mental drain of the war.
It was like a small city, but underground.
Today, you can tour the tunnels and see what life was like at that time.
You’ll get a virtual headset and board a small train that will take you through the tunnels. It’s an interactive experience that’s fun for all ages. My favorite part was getting to see the different rooms and the complexity of the underground city. It was far more extensive than I imagined.
The entire experience takes 35 minutes.
Useful Tip: I recommend bringing a jacket or sweatshirt. The underground part of the museum is cold and damp.
Address: Avenue du Soldat Inconnu (formally Avenue du 5ème RAP)
3. Admire Pont-écluse Saint-Amand
The Pont-écluse Saint-Amand (Saint-Amand lock-bridge) was built between 1680 and 1685 as a defense mechanism. And like the Vauban Dam in Strasbourg, it was used to flood the city, specifically the southern end of Verdun.
Today, it stands as one of the most unique bridges with the original mechanisms still intact.
My favorite view of the bridge was from the terrace of The Sherlock Pub. If you get there early, you’ll have the place to yourself.
Address: Rue du 61ème Régiment d’Artillerie
4. Carrefour des Maréchaux
The Carrefour des Maréchaux or Crossroads of the Marshalls is one of the most overlooked sites in Verdun.
Here you’ll find 16 statues of French marshals from the First Empire, the War of 1870, and World War 1. They stand as a solemn tribute to those who fought to defend their country.
All 16 statues were originally intended for the Louvre. But André Malraux, the Minister of Cultural Affairs, decided they were best placed in Verdun, where they stand today.
You can visit the statues and the park for free.
It’s the perfect addition to any itinerary, especially if you’ve already been to the Underground Citadel of Verdun.
Address: Next to the Underground Citadel of Verdun
5. Visit the Porte Châtel
Not only is this the oldest gate in Verdun but it’s also one of the most beautiful. It dates to the 13th century and protected the city from enemy attack via the southwest.
Today, Porte Châtel stands as a remarkable historical monument, bringing Verdun’s heritage to life.
Stop by to admire its longevity and appreciate the period architecture. You won’t regret it!
Useful Tip: The house next to the gate is from the Middle Ages. It adds some extra character to the already fascinating architecture.
Address: 1 Rue des Hauts Fins
6. Explore Centre Mondial de la Paix, des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme
The Centre Mondial de la Paix, des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme (Center for Peace, Freedom, and Human Rights) is the former bishop’s palace of Verdun.
It was destroyed during the Battle of Verdun in 1916 and has since been restored. Today, it’s dedicated to the promotion of peace, freedom, and human rights.
There are a variety of activities and events hosted throughout the year here. There’s even a municipal library that houses an impressive 15,000 documents. A definite must-see if you’re in town!
Address: Place Mgr Ginisty
7. Marvel at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Verdun
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Verdun is more than a thousand years old. And it’s the oldest church in Lorraine.
Unfortunately, it was bombed several times during World War 1, and much of the exterior was never rebuilt. So, it jaw-dropping feel to it like some of the other cathedrals in France, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. The interior is as beautiful as ever. From the 12th-century crypt to stained-glass windows, it will no doubt leave you in awe.
Address: 7 Place Mgr Ginisty
8. Visit the Monument à la Victoire et aux Soldats de Verdun
This stunning monument is at the most fitting place in Verdun, Place de la Libération.
Here 73 steps lead to the sculpture of a warrior leaning on his sword. And beneath it lies a crypt that holds the registers of those who received the Medal of Verdun.
It commemorates all those who lost their lives during the Battle of Verdun.
It’s also the site of a very special event that takes place every year.
On the 1st of November, the flame from the tomb of the Unknown Soldier that burns under Paris’ Arc de Triomphe is taken to this very monument. Then, on the 11th of November, or Armistice Day, it’s taken back to Paris.
If you’re visiting France on either of these days, the ceremonies are worth seeing.
Address: Avenue de la Victoire
9. Admire Porte Chaussée
Built in 1380, Porte Chaussée was one of three monumental gates that made up Verdun’s Grand Rampart. It was later used as a military prison from 1755 until 1860.
Today, it stands proudly as a relic of Verdun’s past and serves as an inviting gateway to the city.
Explore its ancient stones and take in the alluring scenery of the nearby Meuse River. It’s undoubtedly one of the most picturesque spots in town.
Address: Rue Chaussée
10. Stroll Along the Meuse River
Walking along the banks of the Meuse River is one of the most enchanting things to do in Verdun.
Not only are the views stunning, but the calming beauty is like nothing else in town.
I went early in the morning, which is the best time to go. The fog rises from the river creating an eerie yet serene setting.
11. Relax in Parc Japiot
Verdun is home to several parks, but Japiot Park is the best. Overlooking the Meuse River, this park offers a variety of opportunities for both relaxation and recreation. There’s even a Verdun War Memorial that’s dedicated to the children who died during the war.
Spend an afternoon strolling the pristine walkways or picnic on one of the many green spaces. Either way, it’s a must-visit.
Address: 1B Av. Général Mangin
12. Explore Canal du Puty
Canal du Puty is one of many tributaries of the Meuse River. And before it enters this mighty waterway, it passes several historical monuments. The most significant being La Tour des Plaids and Tour de l’Islot.
These iconic landmarks were once used as towers to defend Verdun.
Today, you can peruse along the banks of Canal du Puty and appreciate the history and gorgeous scenery.
Useful Tip: As of April 2023, La Tour des Plaids is undergoing restorations.
Address: Rue du Grand Rempart
13. Visit Porte Saint Paul
If you’re traveling to Verdun by train, Porte Saint Paul is the first monument that you’ll see.
It’s located at the heart of a former defensive wall that served as the entry and exit points of Verdun. Pass through the arches and begin your journey through this amazing city. There’s no better place to do so!
Address: Place Saint-Paul
14. Gare de Verdun
You might not think a train station is worth visiting, and when you see the one in Verdun it doesn’t look that special. But let me assure you this station is full of history.
It was built in 1868 and designed by the infamous Gustave Eiffel.
Yes, that’s right.
The architect of the Eiffel Tower was also hired to design this little train station.
But its most significant role in history was on the 10th of November 1920.
At 4:00 pm, the Gare de Verdun sent a train to Paris with the Unknown Solider. He was then buried under the Arc de Triomphe, where he remains to this day.
15. Admire the Colorful Doors and Windows
Verdun is a city full of rich history and culture, but that’s not all. It also has a unique architectural style. Here you’ll find brightly colored doors and windowsills set against traditional stone buildings.
As you stroll through the city, you’ll no doubt come across some spectacular architecture. That’s, after all, one of the many things that I love about France. But my favorite area was near Porte Châtel along Rue Mongauld.
16. Marvel at the Chapelle Saint-Nicolas, dite chapelle Buvignier
This former church was built by Jesuit architect René Maugrain in the mid-1700s. While it underwent significant restorations in 2007, it maintains some important historical elements. The most notable is the damage from World War 1.
It serves as a reminder of the war that ensued at the doors of Verdun and the lives that were lost because of it.
Address: Rue Saint-Paul
17. Meander down the Quai de Londres
Located on the banks of the Meuse River, this picturesque promenade is the perfect place to relax and take in some fresh air.
Here you’ll find quaint cafés offering a variety of beverages and delicious snacks.
Stop by for an ice-cold beer or a cheese board. Most places have outdoor seating, so, if it’s sunny, make sure to get there early.
Address: Quai de Londres
Best Time to Visit Verdun
Verdun is a year-round destination, but depending on your travel preference, certain seasons might be better than others.
Summer (June – August) – The best time to visit Verdun is in the summer months. The streets are alive with locals and visitors enjoying its legendary sites. The warm weather makes outdoor activities like exploring the Verdun Battlefields more enjoyable. The only downside is the hordes of tourists.
Spring (April-May) – This is the low season for travel in this region of France. The weather is hit or miss with more rainy days than sunny ones. But there are so few tourists, it’s worth traveling this time of year.
Fall (September-November) – Fall is one of my favorite times to travel in this part of France. The weather is cooler, but you won’t have to deal with all the people. In fact, you’ll be able to tour most sites without anyone around.
Best Hotels in Verdun
Verdun doesn’t have a lot of accommodation options, so I recommend booking in advance. And to help you organize your stay, I’ve compiled a list of the best hotels in Verdun.
- Hotel de Montaulbain – Clean comfortable rooms. It’s centrally located and the staff is very friendly.
- Savy Hôtel – Located in downtown Verdun, this is, undoubtedly, the most unique hotel around. It’s on a barge! The rooms are comfortable, clean, and well-designed.
- La Maison Mirabeau – Beautiful rooms with a delicious breakfast. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing stay.
Best Restaurants in Verdun
Verdun has no shortage of amazing restaurants. Here are a few options to help you plan your trip.
- La Capsule – Specializing in both sweet and salty crêpes, it’s the perfect spot for lunch.
- Le Clapier – Serving traditional Lorraine cuisine. If you’re looking to try local dishes, then this is the place to go.
- Le bistro d’Elo Verdun – One of the most popular restaurants in town. The menu is limited but the quality is top-notch.
Getting to Verdun
There are several ways to get to Verdun. But it’s easiest to travel from either Paris or Reims. Below I’ll cover the different options in more detail.
Reims to Verdun
The most common way to visit Verdun is on a day trip from Reims. So, there are several ways to get from Reims to Verdun.
With a Tour
Taking a tour is the easiest. You’ll visit all the main attractions and not have to worry about planning your visit. It’s the best option if you’re short on time.
Renting a car and driving from Reims to Verdun is best if you want to have control over your itinerary. You’ll be able to see the sites at your own pace and even visit off-beat spots.
- Distance: 122 kilometers (75 miles)
- Driving Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Trains from Reims to Verdun take two hours. This is the cheapest option, but you’ll still have to organize your visit to Le Memorial de Verdun. Taxis are available at Verdun’s train station and it’s €20 per trip.
Paris to Verdun
There are quite a few options to get to Verdun from Paris and I’ll cover each option in more detail below.
With a Tour
This option is hassle-free and easy. You’ll get to see all the main sites, and, as a bonus, you won’t have to worry about organizing every little detail. You can sit back relax and just enjoy your vacation.
Renting a car and driving from Paris to Verdun will give you the most freedom and you’ll be able to travel at your own pace. If flexibility is your priority, then this is the best option.
- Distance: 262 kilometers (162 miles)
- Driving Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Trains from Paris to Verdun run regularly and take two hours. While train tickets are cheap, you’ll still need to get to the main attraction, Le Memorial de Verdun. And the only way to do this is to take a taxi, which is €20 each way. Taxis are readily available at Verdun’s train station.
Getting Around Verdun
All the attractions in downtown Verdun can be reached on foot. The city is walkable, so you won’t have a problem getting around.
If you want to explore the Le Memorial de Verdun and the Verdun Battlefields, you’ll need to rent a car or take a taxi.
Useful Tip: The taxis listed on Google Maps and on the website of the memorial are never available. But you can find taxis at Verdun’s train station. Then, if you need a taxi back to downtown Verdun, go to the welcome center at the Le Memorial de Verdun. They will organize one for you.
FAQs About Things to Do in Verdun
Is it worth visiting Verdun?
Yes, it is worth visiting Verdun! This quaint town is overflowing with historical sites that are nothing short of fascinating. From the Verdun Battlefields to the Underground Citadel, there are so many sites and attractions to visit.
Why is Verdun so famous?
Verdun is best known for its role in World War 1. It was at the center of the longest and bloodiest battle with more than 700,000 casualties. Today, the Battle of Verdun is a symbol of French defiance against German occupation.
Are there still trenches in Verdun?
Yes, there are still trenches in Verdun. The trenches that were used during the Battle of Verdun are still intact today. They provide a powerful reminder of the conflict and its human cost.
How many French died at Verdun?
It is estimated that over 300,000 French soldiers died in the Battle of Verdun during World War 1.
Why was the Battle of Verdun so brutal?
The Battle of Verdun was one of the longest and most brutal battles of World War 1, lasting 302 days. Both sides fought with extreme tactics including heavy artillery bombardment and trench warfare. The combination of these elements led to some 700,000 casualties.
What is the famous road to Verdun?
The famous road to Verdun is the Voie Sacrée or Sacred Way. This 70-kilometer (43-mile) stretch of road connects Bar-le-Duc to Verdun. During World War 1, it was used to supply munitions and reinforcements to French troops.
Conclusion: Things to Do in Verdun
Verdun is a city steeped in history and emotion, making it an unforgettable destination to visit. From the awe-inspiring battlefields to beautiful canals, there’s no shortage of things to see here. And best of all you can visit year-round! So, whether you’re a history buff or a Francophile, Verdun won’t disappoint. Now, all that’s left to do is pack your bags and start planning your trip!
Read More Articles About France
I hope you enjoyed my post about the best things to do in Verdun and found it useful. Here are some other articles that I think you might find interesting.
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