Somme battlefields from Paris?

Mar 20th, 2007, 05:59 PM
  #1  
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Somme battlefields from Paris?

I was wondering if anyone had tried to visit one of the Somme battlefield memorials by a day trip from Paris, using train/taxi? I checked the French train site, & there are trains to Albert (closer to where I want to go than Amiens) but I was wondering how difficult it would be for a first time visitor with rusty high school French & a phrasebook? I wanted to see the Newfoundland Memorial, at Beaumont-Hamel, but I know there are Britsh & Ulster ones nearby. Any info ?
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 04:54 PM
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Hi
This isn't really the reply you are needing, but i did want to urge you to google for the info that you seek; i'm sure the major towns that were involved will have websites/info.
I say this because i have visited the battlefields, museums, and memorials around Verdun and then on the Western Front in Belgium on 2 separate trips and they are HAUNTING. You can still see the craters. There are whole villages that were wiped out, and plaques and small signs mark the ground where they stood. These places deserve to be visited.
We had a car and found the distance from verdun and St. mihiel to Paris not overwhelming. Possible as a long day trip, but head out early.
I'm sure your hs French will be welcomed and useable.
GrandeRandonnee is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Looks like you can do it by train from the Gare du Nord in Paris, changing trains in Amiens. You would then have a short taxi ride from the train station in Albert to the battlefield park at Beaumont-Hamel. You could do it as a day trip.

I wouldn't hesitate to try it, even with limited French. You can give the taxi driver in Albert a piece of paper with "Mémorial terre-neuvien de Beaumont-Hamel" written on it, and could probably arrange for the driver to return at a specified time.

Are you going to be there on 1 July?

Anselm
AnselmAdorne is online now  
Apr 4th, 2007, 08:11 PM
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Here's the directions from Veterans Affairs Canada on how to get to Beaumont-Hamel by train and taxi:

"The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is about 35 kms northeast of Amiens, 40 kms south of Arras and 150 kms north of Paris. You can reach Amiens by train or by bus and from there take a taxi to the Memorial. The trip to the Memorial is approximately €75 return. You can also take the train as far as Albert and from there take a taxi; the trip to the Memorial is approximately €24 return. You can rent a bike at the train station; which costs approximately €5 per day, €11 per week and €17 per month.

Note: The cost of a taxi is based on return trips without a waiting period. If you want the taxi to wait for you while you visit the site you will be charged €17.90 per hour. Bus connections are difficult and there are not many of them in the rural areas of the department of the Somme."

You can find more on the website at:

http://tinyurl.com/2d7rnc

If you're up to it, renting a bike at the gare in Albert might be a good idea, rather than paying to keep a taxi waiting.

The British Somme memorial is at Thiépval and the Ulster tower is nearby. Both are fairly close to Beaumont-Hamel.
You could easily include them on your visit.
laverendrye is offline  
Apr 4th, 2007, 11:00 PM
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I've been to the battlefields you mentioned a couple of times, and I would suggest that they really can only be visited comfortably by car: and then it is very easy because there are many famous sites in sight of each other. Only the Beaumont-Hamel site is "original' (given the passing of nearly a century!) and it is there that you can get the best impression of the impossible task the infantry faced on the first day of the First Battle of the Somme. I once read that the Newfoundlanders were 'decimated', but 'decimated' actually means that only one in ten was killed. The Newfoundlanders advanced with 801 men, and, at roll call on the following day, 68 men answered. The rest were either dead or seriously wounded. Hiram Maxim's machine gun was used by both sides in WW1 to deadly effect, and Beaumont-Hamel is great place to see why.
The Museum at Albert is also worth a couple of hours.
adeben is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 01:39 PM
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Thanks very much for the info,everyone. I think I may try the train /taxi, since several people think it may work. I'm in Paris for a week by myself, & I don't really want the expense/stress of driving from Paris (a place I've never been).
The website address is very useful, laverendrye (I assume from the moniker a fellow Canadian).
Adeben, if you're not a Newfoundlander, you must be a serious WWI buff. I know the story of the Newfoundland Regiment, -- it's well-known here, kind of a defining moment in our history -- but I wasn't expecting it to ring a bell on this board.
nfldbeothuk is offline  
Apr 5th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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nfldbeothuk, I'm glad to hear you're going to give it a go.

Your post certainly rang a bell with me. I lived in St. John's in the '70s and recollect vividly the 1st of July as a day of remembrance. Quite ironic, when the rest of Canada is celebrating the birth of the nation.

Anselm (a CFA)
AnselmAdorne is online now  
Apr 6th, 2007, 02:26 AM
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Not a Newfoundlander, more a Downunderlander. The battlefields mentioned in the various posts are very near the Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Sad places all.
adeben is offline  
Apr 6th, 2007, 05:04 AM
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nfldbeothuk: You are correct--my screen name recalls the great explorer of the Canadian west.

I don't know whether you have yet visited Vimy, but if not it would be a shame if you were in the vicinity and didn't take the opportunity, especially now that the monument has been restored after several years' work. It would be difficult to do both Beaumont Hamel and Vimy from Paris in a day without a car, but you might consider staying overnight in Arras, which is an interesting city on its own.

Good luck with your travels.
laverendrye is offline  
Apr 13th, 2007, 04:00 AM
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Just bookmarking...
Retired_teacher is offline  
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