Billy's Blog - The Verdun Centenary Tour March 2016
On our arrival at St Pancras station a number of our participants were already waiting at our usual meeting point, next to the Sir John Betjeman statue, and the rest closely followed. All greeted each other and some caught up with familiar faces from previous tours. Once the whole group was present and had received their tickets we moved swiftly through check-in and into the departure lounge where we again congregated before making our way on to the train. All being seated in the same carriage allowed our guide Bruce to move through the train to distribute the tour handout and to introduce himself personally. After the light breakfast that is provided in Standard Premier, we relaxed into a smooth journey through to Paris. Once again we congregated on the Gare du Nord platform ready for our short walk over to Paris Est where we dispersed in search of a bite to eat before boarding our TGV for another very comfortable journey to Meuse, where we were met by both the sun and our tour coach. Once we had ‘saddled up’ we set off along the famous Voie Sacrée in the direction of Verdun. Bruce took this opportunity to re-introduce himself to the group and give a quick overview of the tour in front of us. We arrived at the Verdun Citadelle in the late afternoon and took the tour around the newly refurbished and interactive museum on its underground ‘railway’. This gave us a good taste of things to come, as a number of these forts would be on the itinerary over the next couple of days. The final leg of our journey was to our hotel in the historic fortress city of Metz, where we checked in and dispersed to our rooms for a short break before convening in the bar for a welcome drink and a chance to mingle before moving on to dinner in the hotel’s Brasserie. The group were now well acquainted with each other and conversation flowed through dinner, mainly on the subject of previous tours attended and future plans. It was clear we had a group of like-minded people, who all shared a passion for military history and battlefield touring. After coffee we retired for the evening satisfied and ready to start the tour proper the next day.
Added: 24th March 2016