France
Somme

Here you’ll find travel reports about Somme. Discover travel destinations in France of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

59 travelers at this place:

  • Day673

    Petit Port

    April 30 in France

    It had been a rotten night in terms of weather and we woke to a rotten day. Torrential rain turned to sleet and as we began our journey, it then turned to a blizzard of snow, blown by vicious side winds in excess of 20mph. It wasn't an easy drive!

    By now we've got into the swing of getting up, travelling between between 120km and 200km, with perhaps a stop for lunch or a supermarket, then arriving at our stopover and settling in, before doing it all again the following day. Today was a little different because we had called ahead to Clinique Veternaire Vauban in Abbeville in order to get Poppy's passport stamped ready for the ferry on Thursday. There turned out to be a drop-in session in the afternoon, so we stopped in a large car park about 300m away and after Poppy had settled herself from the drive, we walked her to the clinic.

    The staff were friendly and we were seen quickly. The vet took a double take and checked she was actually 15 years old (but was convinced of the fact when she looked at her teeth). To our relief Poppy passed her clinical exam and to our surprise she voluntarily ate the worming tablet the vet held out to her (although she turned her nose up at the treats she was then offered as a reward- contrary animal!). We left with two new stamps in the passport, €40 lighter and a rather tired Poppy.

    We'd made good progress through France so had a day in hand. We were therefore able to spend 2 nights at the lovely car park at Petit Port. Situated in a rural spot between La Canal de la Somme and the smaller Contre Canal it was a pretty place, despite the persistent rain.

    The following day we relished not having to move on. Ducks and moorhens rippled the reflections on the water surface in the golden light of dawn and apart from one brief rain shower, it stayed gloriously sunny all day. 1st May is a bank holiday in France so there were many fishers stationed on both waterways, as well as an vintage car rally that stopped by for half an hour. We took a couple of enjoyable walks along the super straight towpath. It wasn't warm but the sunshine did its job and elevated our moods.

    Having time to think about it, we spent a while discussing and tweaking our travel plans for 2019 onwards, sticking months onto our European map, their colours corresponding to their year. This way we could see our journeys over space as well as time and found a few improvements we could make to our itinerary.

    The sun set with a special treat; a view of otters on the Contre Canal! For more than an hour as the sky's colours transitioned from blue, to warm oranges and reds, then faded to grey, we caught glimpses of them swimming to and fro, collecting bits of grass for their well hidden nest!
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  • Day37

    France Amiens

    July 14, 2017 in France

    We left Amsterdam bright and early so as we could weave our way through the canals and roadworks, still took half an hour to go a couple of kms! On the way to Amiens we stopped off at Villars Bretonnoux and visited the Australian World War One memorial there. Man what an emotional place, we both had tears as we wandered the site. It is a very moving place and was quite damaged during the Second World War with the stonework showing many bullet holes. Beautifully looked after by the French.The connection to Australia is very strong in this village as the Aussie forces rescued it from the Germans and assisted in the rebuilding of the village after the war. We had lunch at the Victoria cafe, there are kangaroo symbols all over the place as well as other signage referencing Australiana. Onto Amiens, a delightful town that has canals and interesting old buildings in the town centre and has an enormous Cathedral at its centre. It is Bastille Day in France today so last night there was a huge fireworks display set to music which we watched with many thousands of French people. Was spectacular. Off today to explore and enjoy Bastille Day. Viva Le France!Read more

  • Day432

    More driving today! First stop was just up the coast from Le Havre, a small coastal town called Etretat. Its main drawcard feature are large white chalky cliffs exactly like you get at Dover, though these are slightly smaller and probably a little less impressive. Still very cool though, and interesting to think about since the English coast isn't all that far away (though this is much further than the Dover-Calais distance).

    The town itself was quite cute as well, and seemed to be very popular. We'd arrived around 9:30 and by the time we left at 11 it was getting quite full. A few nice little streets, knick-knack shops and the like. But quite kitsch and touristy - nice to know that the French aren't above that after all, it's not all Chanel and macarons!

    Back in the car where we drove another few hours to the north-east, heading to the city of Amiens. This is home to one of the famous French gothic cathedrals, Notre-Dame de Amiens. It's obviously a World Heritage site, so we found a car park underground, left Schnitzel in the car and spent a couple of hours filming inside and out. We're getting pretty good at these, spotting the differences and so on. I do sometimes wonder whether it's necessary to have every single huge French gothic cathedral on the list though - maybe just the best one, or combine them or something. I dunno.

    Finished here, we headed to the outskirts of the city where we had our apartment for the next two nights. It was a loft studio located in the upper floor of a yuppie couple's terrace house. Aside from being let in, we had basically no contact with them. It was quite nice and freshly renovated, though up quite a few stairs!

    Not having any cooking facilities, we headed out to a nearby McDonalds for dinner! Very surprised to see a banner welcoming Australians to the McDonalds, and then realised that it was ANZAC Day in a couple of days, and this was in the Western Front area. What a coincidence!
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  • Day38

    France, Amiens

    July 15, 2017 in France

    Had a lazy start to the day....slept in, breakfast late. Had planned on just walking the main sights of this lovely city. We had been told by the concierge to take a boat trip to "Des Hortillages" - floating islands that have been formed from peat bogs some 2000 years ago. These islands are now small plots with a small house and large veggie garden - they really are quite amazing. You travel on a flat bottomed barge type boat through little canals that weave their way through the islands. No roads, no cars, and incredibly quiet given they are right in the middle of the city. From there we strolled to the house Jules Verne lived in for 18 years. It's not open to public, there is just a sign telling you that where he lived, from there on the La Cirque, a beautiful old building that had copped a bit of damage in the war and has been rebuilt and is still under going works today. Amiens was apparently a key target of interest to the invading forces in both wars and most of the buildings have received damage. There is a fabulous museum building, not open to the public that had significant damage, was rebuilt, and is now undergoing major renovations. It's a pit we couldn't go in, it looked pretty impressive. We had a pretty lazy day, finishing off with drinks no dinner by the river. Off to our next stop, Dinan, where we are out of hotels (yay!) and have our our cottage for a week. Can't wait.Read more

  • Day62

    Battlefields of France

    September 3, 2017 in France

    Snapshot
    Where - Normandy Region of France
    Weather - mixture, some showers, some sun

    Leaving Belgium we headed to France and have spent the next few days in Brad's element - visiting the area where significant war time battles were held. It is not really high on my list of interests but I must admit I have a greater understanding of what happened here during WWII.

    Before we went to Normandy, we drove to Villers Bretonneux - a village in northern France that was totally devastated during WWI - and has special ties to Australia because Australian soldiers stopped a counter attack by the Germans (with significant loss of life.) Apparently, most of the soldiers came from Victoria and when the returned they asked all the schoolchildren to donate a penny to go towards rebuilding the school in Villers Bretonneux. They raised around £12,000 (a lot of money back then) and to this day the school is called The Victoria School and the sign above the school says " Never Forget Australia". There is a Franco-Australian Museum in the town (where the school is ) and just outside the town is the war memorial located on the site where the battle was fought. It is hard to believe that 100 years ago (next year, coincidentally on 25th April), the surrounding land was battle scarred when to look at it today it is peaceful farmland.

    We are staying for 3 nights in a little old fisherman's cottage in the town of Ouisterham (pronounced Wee Strum). We have the place to ourselves which is good for a change, even if it is a rather odd little place on three levels with narrow spiral stairs to the 2nd level and a kind of step ladder stair to the bedroom. Very quirky but it was fine for exploring the Normandy area.
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  • Day10

    Minneskyrkogård och kustby

    May 7, 2017 in France

    Vad är sannolikheten att vi slumpmässigt väljer en camping som ligger "vägg i vägg" med en av de största minneskyrkogårdarna för kriggsoffren från första världskriget. Över 11 000 soldater och sjuksköterskor ligger begravda i Etaples. Staden var under WW1 världens största knutpunkt för soldater och sjukhus. Känner stor vördnad att ha besökt detta.
    Efter det iväg igen. Denna gång mot Le Crotoy. Väldigt vacker kustsamhälle. Ställplats mitt i hamnen. Inte direkt endamma, bara ca 100 andra husbilar och vi..😲Read more

  • Day10

    Day Nine

    July 22, 2016 in France

    Today we said good bye to Ypres and the battlefields of the Ypres Salient and we have made our way south, back into France and to the area they call 'The Somme'. We returned to Fromelles for a closer look at Pheasant Wood Cemetery and Australia Memorial Park or VC Corner. Our historian, Mike, took us out into a paddock of wheat to fully explain the botched battle that was Fromelles. From our vantage point we could clearly see the Auber Ridge and the Sugarloaf (a bulge in the German front line). The first wave of Australian forces have 200m of no-man's land to cover to try and take the German trenches. The British on their flank have 400m of no-man's land to cover. But the British decide not to go as they dont think they can make a success of it, but fail to fully conmunicate this to the Aussies. Not enough Aussie soldiers from this first wave make it to fully take over the German trenches, so by the time the second and third waves come they are mowed down by German machine gun fire. The same thing happens again the next day as the British pull out due to dwindling numbers. The 58th Batallion loses 400 Victorian soldiers. This campaign was doomed from the start and results in over 5500 casualties and 1299 killed in a 24 hour period.

    We spent some time at VC Corner - Australian Memorial Park. This is where the famous 'Cobber' sculpture is. To make it even more spectacular the grass areas surrounding the statue were covered in handmade knitted poppies. This was a display created for last year's Gallipoli Centenery and displayed in Federation Square. From here they were taken to the Chelsea Flower Show and then thanks to an anoyomous donation the display was brought to the Western Front for the Fromelles Centenery. It was amazing and gave the area that special spark.

    We then went for a more intimate look at Pheasant Wood Cemetery in Fromelles, the site for Tuesday's Centenery service. This is the newest cemetery on the Western Front. It was created in 2009 after a mass grave of Australian soldiers was found in a farmer's paddock adjacent to the Fromelles village. Each soldier was laid to rest in the cemetery with a heastone 'Unknown soldier of the Great War' in 2010. After each soldier is identified by DNA their headstone is replaced with a new one depicting their name, rank, date of death, rising sun and a message from their family. A beautiful memorial.
    After lunch we visted 'Vimy Ridge' the Canadian memorial to the fallen. It is massive, it is hard to describe its size or depict it properly in photos. This memorial represents the 66,000 Canadian troops killed on the Western Front and has the names of all the soldiers missing that do not have a known grave. The monument stands tall with two pillars side by side, this represents the two countries, France & Canada. The space between the pillars represents the ocean between these countries. The figure on top represents 'peace' and the shared values of faith, hope, courage and knowledge. The lone statue in front, which looks like the Virgin Mary is Mother Canada, looking out over the tomb and keeping a careful and loving watch over the fallen soldiers.

    Finally we visited Bullecourt and had a beer in the 'Le Canberra' pub, just like the Diggers in 1917. We will learn more of the Battle of Bullecourt in the coming days.
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  • Day11

    Day Ten

    July 23, 2016 in France

    This morning we headed towards Villers Bretonneux. We visited the Victoria School and had photos taken under the famous 'Don't Forget Australia' sign in the playground of the school. We also wandered through the museum dedicated to the Aussies who fought to save the town. We followed this with our visit to the Villers Bretonneux Military Cemetery. This is a magnificent structure. The size of the cemetery is hard to describe. As you walk in past the alter bearing the inscription 'Their name liveth for evermore' it is a confronting sight to see rows and rows of headstones for a far as you can see up the hill. As you go up the hill in the distance is the bell tower and the wall carrying all the names of the missing. It is quite impressive. We had several pilgrimages to honour reletives of people on the tour. One of the fallen soldiers in the cemetery was honoured by five generations of family, this was quite special to witness.

    After lunch at Tommy's in Pozieres, a pub quite well known by Aussie diggers in 1916, we went to the Le Hamel Memorial. This was to honour the Aussies in the battle for the town of Le Hamel. The memorial is situated on the trenches that the Germans held until July 4th 1918. This battle was the making of Sir John Monash as Commander of the Australian Corps. His meticulous planning resulted in a famous victory.

    Other places we visited were:
    - Lochnagar Crater Memorial
    - 3rd Australian Division Memorial
    - Mouquet Farm, a German held area that the Aussies attack and after five weeks of fighting capture the farm from the Germans. The Aussies refer to it as 'Moo Cow Farm'.

    Our final stop for today was at the Thiepval Memorial and French-Anglo Cemetery. After seeing the massive memorial at Vimy Ridge yesterday I didn't think they could get any bigger but I was wrong, so wrong! The structure that is Thiepval is a sight to be hold. It is a giant in all aspects of the word. It looks like a giant wedding cake! This is a memorial for all men who fought the various battles along The Somme. In all 72,000 men died on The Somme and have no known grave. This is their memorial. These names are inscribed along the walls of the monument along with each battle that made up the fighting along The Somme. Numerous times today we crossed over the river Somme, where bloodiest of battles gets its name.
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  • Day12

    Day Eleven

    July 24, 2016 in France

    Today we went to Pozieres for the centenery. Prior to this we went to Beaumont Hamel, the New Foundland Memorial. Here we could see real evidence of shelling. This area during the war was mainly Canadian & New Foundland soldiers and here they sustained a huge loss of life. Amongst the brave soldiers was the one and only recorded Inuit (Eskimo) soldier. The monument is impressive, this large caribou on top of a mountain with the honour roll underneath.

    The Australian Department of Veteran Affairs, once again planned and organised a wonderful ceremony. The tributes to the fallen at Pozieres were interesting and moving. It was great to see the youth of our nation read tributes to the soldiers. The big screen pieces outlining the battle in detail were very informative and brought the battle to life. Both Fromelles and Pozieres ceremonies really honoured the brave soldiers that lost their lives so we could live the life we have today.

    For dinner we visited the town of Amiens. This is a quaint town right on the banks of the Somme River. There are rows and rows of restaurants and cafes that line the river bank. An extremely popular place at night. We found a little restuarant called 'L'Envie'. Where we had a three course meal - Entree was a traditional french pancake with cheese, mushroom and ham rolled inside and baked. Main Course was a rib eye steak and chips (after seeing so many potato fields across northern France it was good to taste it. I guess that's why they are called french fries!😝 Finally dessert, this was Fondant au chocolat, which was like a chocolate lava cake with fresh fruit and caramel icecream. It was quite spectacular!
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  • Day12

    Day Twelve

    July 24, 2016 in France

    Our final day on the Somme battlefields before we head back to Paris this afternoon.
    Firstly we drove through the village of Contalmaison this was the area where Australian divisions congregated prior to the assault on Pozieres village.

    On the 14th July 1916, Australians arrive in Pozieres. This area is significant as it is the highest land in the area and the Allies want to occupy it at any cost. To begin with Germans held the village of Pozieres. The Australians 1st and 2nd Divisions take on the assault for Pozieres. The fighting was an intense artillery barriage. As the casualties mount, four Victoria Crosses are awarded to Australian soldiers in a matter of days.
    First division lose over 5000 men, the suvivors are shattered and battleworn, but the town is taken by the Australians. In the following days the 2nd Division take over and capture the Windmall and Mouquet Farm. These are significant as they allow the Australians and the British to mount a full assault on Thiepval, the highest point on the Somme valley. From here they can control the entire area.
    Standing on the mound where the windmill once stood you can see across the paddocks and clearly see the route these soldiers took from Pozieres to Mouquet Farm and then Theipval. With the naked eye it looks like only 10-20km between each. Quite an amazing sight.
    Arrived back in Paris at our hotel to scrub up and look forward to our dinner cruise on the River Seine tonight.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Département de la Somme, Departement de la Somme, Somme, Soma

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