Péronne _ Historial de la Grande Guerre © CRTC Hauts-de-France - AS FlamentPéronne _ Historial de la Grande Guerre © CRTC Hauts-de-France - AS Flament
©Péronne, Historial de la Grande Guerre |CRTC Hauts-de-France - AS Flament

The Historial of the Great War: the full magnitude and humanity of conflict

Even if your children know the main dates in the conflict from their history books, taking them to the Historial of the Great War will give them an entirely different perspective on war.

Northern France _ Péronne _ Historial Museum of the Great War © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Nicolas BryantNorthern France _ Péronne _ Historial Museum of the Great War © CRTC Hauts-de-France - Nicolas Bryant
©Northern France, Péronne, Historial Museum of the Great War|CRTC Hauts-de-France - Nicolas Bryant

Here is an original approach to the Great War. The Historial puts the warring parties on a level footing using a reinterpreted and unambiguous timeline, with lots of anecdotes and evidence illustrating the daily life of those who lived through it. This international museum is a place for reflection, honour, where there is no bias because the conflict was hard on all parties regardless of which side they were on.

Here, nameless soldiers are brought to the forefront; we share their fears, their misfortune but also their bravery and their belief in mutual assistance that bonds them on the front, in the trenches but also in the background, where the business of getting on with life was happening.  The museography is modern with an emphasis on works of art, often made by the soldiers themselves when on standby. Using an application intended for the 6-13-year olds, the museum enthrals children by putting them in a reporter’s shoes; they go hunting for clues in the museum and carry out an investigation that they can later send to their email addresses. This is a great way of remembering more than just the basics of the visit.

When you leave, you will walk through the “Garden of Eutychia”, an Irish and Northern Irish Garden of Peace in the moat of the castle that houses the museum.

Local’s tip

Alexia Compere Haute SommeAlexia Compere Haute Somme
Active trails through Bois Marières

My absolute favourite thing to do – and something I like to share with others – is unique in that it explores not just nature, but Remembrance too, right here where WW1 battles raged. ‘Rando de Bois Marières’ is a walking route that can alternatively be undertaken by bike or on horseback, starting just outside the little art deco church in the charming village of Cléry-sur-Somme. The landscapes are really surprising: from valleys, plains and the meandering Somme river to woods and lakes. At times it feels instinctive to walk in silence, simply to fill the senses with nature as you take in the sweeping views, observe the foliage up close, and share observations. When you consider how much this tranquillity contrasts with the battle scene here during WW1, it certainly adds an emotional and thought-provoking dimension. You could say it’s a walk for both body and soul.

Alexia COMPERE, expert on nature, heritage and WW1 Somme history
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