Travel Tips: Ignore the Coronavirus Noise and Make Plans to Visit the Battlefields in 2020

Humans tend to be afraid of what they don’t know—and right now it is the coronavirus.  Headlines seem to be incessant:  There are at least six confirmed cases in the USA, all of whom recently visited China.  Cruise ships and airlines are cancelling services.  Chinese officials are extending the Chinese New Year holiday to reduce hopefully slow transmission.  Etc. I would suggest that readers step back, take a breath, and then continue making plans to visit the battlefields in 2020.  Near-term airline bargains could be Continue reading →

La Vie en France #43: Podcast Explores Cultural Differences Between France and USA Above is a link to the second “Battles of the First World War Podcast” that the Webmaster has done with Mike Cunha. Together with cross-cultural trainer and author Carol Kieffer, the three participants spend about an hour talking about a wide range of cultural differences between France and the U.S.A. The goal of this podcast is to give potential first-time (or second- or third-time) travelers to France a more pleasant experience, because they will have some idea of what to expect. Together, the three Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Noyers-Pont-Maugis French and German Cemeteries, the “Race to Sedan” and more History

Few American battlefield visitors drive as far north as Sedan, because it is approximately one hour (55km / 35 mi) north of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon.  However, for those with the time, it is worth the drive because Sedan and vicinity is steeped in military history.  On 2 Sept. 1870 Prussian troops captured Emperor Napoleon III and a large number of his troops there during the Franco-Prussian War.  (Thereafter, Imperial Germany celebrated Sedan Day annually as a major holiday.)  In August 1914, the Imperial German troops of the Continue reading →

Travel Tips: On the Road (Autoroute) Again

    Autoroutes are one of the things that work well in France. (See “La Vie en France #28:  What Works in France.”)  However, they are absolutely terrifying to most first-time drivers–largely because of the toll booths.  This post will extol the virtues of the French autoroutes; provide a few basic rules; and explain the toll system.     The Virtues of France’s Autoroute System There are virtually no potholes.  The Webmaster believes that there are several reasons for this:  First, construction starts with a Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Walking in Their Footsteps Should Mean More Than a Cemetery Stop or a Day Trip From Paris

Griffin Group Photo AM322.  Cross-Roads at Le Chene Tondu.  The Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof is just to the left of this photo.  Most American tourists know only this part of the plateau; but there is a German Camp (the Borrieswaldlager), a German concrete signal bunker (aka Blinkstelle) and a 100+ year-old tree within a few hundred meters?  Also, one can see the foxholes in which the German two battalions of Landwehr-Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 125 held off the 111th and 112th Infantry Regiments, 28th Division for more than a Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Practical Safety (and Comfort) Tips For Your Pilgrimage

    The last Travel Tips topic–“Seeking Permissions…”–received so much feedback that the Webmaster felt it best to follow this up immediately with a discussion of “Practical Safety (and Comfort) Tips for Your Pilgrimage.”  Many of the cultural topics have been covered in the “La Vie en France” blog post category or elsewhere on this website; but repetition can be a good thing given the large numbers of Americans planning to travel “Over There” this fall.  The goal is not to scare anybody from making Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Seeking Permission to Enter Property When You Speak no French

    In a Garden / On a Farm As a non-French speaker visiting the battlefields, just getting breakfast at the hotel in the morning can be a daunting task.  Asking a land-owner for permission to walk their property is out of the question!  Before taking French lessons, the Webmaster fell into that category of traveler.  One strategy he used was to have a French co-worker (today Google Translate) write a short introduction letter in French, that can be modified to meet one’s specific needs.  Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Finding a Quick, Good Lunch

    For battlefield visitors, it can be difficult to find quick and tasty lunch options without spending more than an hour in a restaurant. One option is to stock up on bread, meat, cheese, etc. at a Supermarket BEFORE the 12h00 – 14h00 lunch shutdown.  In the Meuse-Argonne region, there is a Coccinelle brand store in Doulcon (by Dun-sur-Meuse) and there are Carrefour Express brand stores in Grandpre and in Varennes-en-Argonne.  The Webmaster is less familiar with other regions of France. A second and Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Non-Driving Alternatives and Meeting Locations for Visiting the Meuse-Argonne

The best way to visit the Meuse-Argonne, Verdun, or other battlefields on the Western Front is by car; and the most convenient alternative is to rent a car from one of the well-known international rental agencies at one’s arriving Airport–generally CDG.  Period.  But, there are always those American travelers reluctant to drive overseas and/or who are arriving/have guests arriving from other locations in Europe.  This post will explore non-car travel and meeting location alternatives. Using the Meuse-Argonne as an example:  One must consider that the Continue reading →

Travel Tips: Finding Lodging for the Upcoming Centennial Commemorations

20 March, 2018–In anticipation of the surge in travel to the region, the Webmaster has expanded and updated the list of hotels and B&Bs in the region.  These can be found under the heading “Research Tools–Links” of this website. B&Bs and Gites (French Rental Cottages) are very viable lodging alternatives.  Gites are especially useful for groups planning to stay more than just a few days.  Both of these alternatives can be found on the Gites de France Website. Finally, readers seeking other opinions on lodging Continue reading →