Museum of War and Peace in the Ardennes

The long-awaited reopening of The Museum of War and Peace took place in Novion-Porcien in the French Ardennes at the end of last month, in this 100th anniversary year of the conclusion of The First World War.

The French Ardennes has been at the heart of European conflict for centuries, particularly in the 19th & 20th centuries when its citizens were embroiled in three horrendous wars – the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, followed by the First and Second World Wars – and the brief interludes of peace separating them. The Museum of War and Peace focuses on that 75 year period.

Originally opened in 2003 and then closed for refurbishment in 2008, the museum houses a collection of more than 14,000 items from tanks and heavy equipment to uniforms, small arms and civilian/domestic items, highlighting the three periods of conflict. It commemorates, amongst other things, the “House of the Last Cartridge”, in Bazeilles – a village 8 km from Sedan – where commander Lambert’s group of seventy men stood up to 2,300 Prussians in September 1870.

World War I is depicted through the life of German and French troops in the trenches. The soldiers had left home with “flowers in their gun barrels”, but found themselves in a war in which men on both sides dug underground to protect themselves, giving rise to the figure of the French “Poilu” who suffered the rigors of the seasons, shortages and bloody attacks, which in the end led to mutiny.

World War II exhibits focus on life in the occupied region with compulsory work service for civilians, deportations and the resistance, right up to the invasion and reconquest of France.


Since 2014, we’ve had four years of commemorations in France marking everything from the start of the WW1 in 1914, through to events remembering those who fell in the campaigns at The Somme and Passchendaele.

Those 100th anniversaries will draw to a close at 11am on November 11, 2018, and in France the last chapter of the history of the conflict will be marked in The French Ardennes, where the last official French victim of The Great War, Augustin Joseph Trébuchon, fell – just fifteen minutes before the cease-fire at 11am on November 11, 1918.

Trébuchon is buried in the cemetery of Vrigne-Meuse, an Ardennes village of 220 inhabitants, where visitors today will find a church with 18 white crosses surrounding a memorial – in honour of the men of the 415th Infantry Regiment who all died on November 11 during the last offensive while attempting to cross the River Meuse.

 

Factbox

Website:
Musée de Guerre et Paix en Ardennes

Getting there:
Musée de Guerre et Paix en Ardennes
Impasse du Musée
08270 Novion-Porcien
Located on the A34 which links Reims and Paris with Charleville-Mézières, The Museum is also the gateway to The French Ardennes’ many remembrance sites.

Price:
Adults: €8
Concessions: €5
Families: €20
Groups (20+): From €5 per person.

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