Verdun: The Mincing Machine

About the tour: Verdun: The Mincing Machine

  • Campaign: The Great War (WW1)
  • Campaign Dates Covered: Feb 1916 - Dec 1916

This tour will cover the following key events

  • Start of the Battle of Verdun - 21 February 1916
    The Battle of Verdun began in February 1916 during WW1 and was fought for 11 long months. It was the longest battle of WW1 and was fought between the French army and the Germans. It began with the German army attacking the French at Verdun.
  • Capture of Fort Douaumont - 25 February 1916
    Fort Douamont was captured just 3 days into the Battle of Verdun. Douamont was the largest fort protecting the city of Verdun and the Germans thought that it would be of their advantage to occupy it. Due to the fort only being manned by 56 men, it was quickly given up by with French, without a fight, to the adnacing Germans.
  • Capture of Fort Vaux - 8 June 1916
    Fort Vaux was the second fort to be captured during the Battle of Verdun WW1, after Fort Douamont. The French managed to hold off the Germans for months, however were forced to surrender when they ran out of food, water and ammunition.
  • Recapture of Fort Vaux - 2 November 1916
    The French tirelessly fought to recapture the Fort and just like it did for the French before, life became impossible for the Germans, who decided to flea the Fort. On the 2nd of November it was discovered to be empty by French troops, who were quick to take back control of the structure.
  • End of the Battle of Verdun - 18 December 1916
    Lasting almost a whole year, the longest battle of WW1, the Battle of Verdun, was concluded in December 1916, seeing the French army win, as the Germans retreated before achieving their goal. The battle saw hundreds of thousands of casualties and led to the Battle of the Somme.

Tour Introduction

In 1916, the Battle of Verdun, In France, saw over 770,000 casualties and as a result inherited the name the ‘mincing machine’ by the French troops who served there. On this tour we take an in depth look at theWorld War 1 battlefields around Verdun, visiting forts and trenches and iconic sites such as Fort Douaumont and the St.Mihiel Salient. We also see the site where the Battle of Verdun began at Bois des Caures.

Tour Includes

  • 4 nights hotel with continental breakfast
  • Specialist Battlefield Guide
  • Convenient local joining points
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Once you have booked your battlefield tour either online, or by telephone (), you have the flexibility of how you pay off the remainder of your balance. You can -

  1. Use our balance payment facility online to make and track your card payments. You can pay as much as you want up until your final due date or pay it all, the choice is yours.
  2. Send payments via online banking.
  3. Send payments via cheque.
  4. Call us and make a card payment, either a small amount or as lump sum until your final due date.

Our contact and online banking payment details will be on your confirmation invoice to remind you of your choices.

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Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Local departure by coach, then to our hotel, near Metz for a four-night stay.

Day 2 - Battle of Verdun

We start at the Bois des Caures where the Battle of Verdun began in February 1916. Here Colonel Driant and his Light Infantry troops bore the brunt of the opening stage of the German assault. We see Driant’s command post and see where he died, then continue to the Fleury Museum which re-opened for the centenary, followed by lunchtime in Verdun.

In the afternoon we look at the cost of Verdun seeing the massive Douaumont cemetery and the moving Douaumont Ossuary, under which are the bones of more than 120,000 soldiers who died in 1916. We then look at two of the Ouvrages – defensive redoubts – at Thiaumont and Froideterre where we see the effect of the shelling, and explore bunkers and see gun turrets.

We end the day at the Trench of Bayonets memorial and look at the story of French soldiers buried alive in their front line trench.

Included meals: Breakfast


Verdun: Trench of Bayonets (7)

Key Visits

  • Verdun: Trench of Bayonets
  • Bois des Caures, Driant's Command Post
  • Fleury Museum
  • Douaumont Cemetery
  • Douaumont Ossuary
  • Thiaumont Ouvrage
  • Froideterre Ouvrage
  • Trench of Bayonets Memorial

Day 3 - Fort Douaumont & Fort Vaux

Returning to Verdun we spend the morning looking at two of the most well-known forts at Verdun: Fort Douaumont and Fort Vaux. Now national museums, we visit the top of the forts, see the gun turrets and explore the tunnels inside.

After lunch we visit the Citadel Museum where France’s unknown soldier was selected after the war and then look at the ‘left bank’ of the battlefield seeing the high ground at Mort Homme and Cote 304, where there was bitter fighting in 1916.

Included meals: Breakfast

Fort Douaumont

Fort Douaumont (4)

Key Visits

  • Fort Douaumont
  • Fort Vaux
  • Citadel Museum
  • Mort Homme
  • Cote 304

Day 4 - St. Mihiel Salient

The fighting at Verdun was always linked with the ground to the south around St. Mihiel and today we look at the St. Mihiel Salient. We see the hill at Les Eparges, torn apart by mine warfare, and then look at the role of American troops in the area in 1918, seeing the US Memorial at Mont Sec.

After lunch in St. Mihiel we explore the rich remains of trench systems in the Apremont area, where we see examples of both French and German positions. We then continue with a look at the role of the ‘Doughboys’ and visit the St. Mihiel American Cemetery.

Included meals: Breakfast

US Memorial at Mont Sec

US Memorial at Mont Sec (4)

Key Visits

  • Trenches at St. Mihiel Salient
  • Hill at Les Eparges
  • US Memorial at Mont Sec
  • Trench System at Apremont
  • St. Mihiel American Cemetery

Day 5

Return home.

Included meals: Breakfast

Pre-Tour Reading

A selection of related books for pre or post tour reading.

  • Brown, Malcolm Verdun 1916 (History Press 2003)
  • Holstein, Christina Fort Douaumont (Pen & Sword 2010)
  • Holstein, Christina Fort Vaux (Pen & Sword 2012)
  • Holstein, Christina Walking Verdun (Pen & Sword 2009)
  • Holt, T. & V. Western Front: South (Pen & Sword 2005)
  • Horne, A. Verdun: The Price of Glory (many editions)
  • Martin, William Verdun 1916 (Osprey 2001)

Passenger Information

Foreign Currency

The Verdun tour takes place in France only and therefore you will only need the Euro. You are advised to get Euros – in cash – in advance of your tour, as most banks and hotels in France do not provided currency exchange services.

What to Bring

The weather in northern France can be changeable, and it is advisable to bring sensible clothes and always pack a jumper and waterproofs. Good, stout shoes are essential – remember this was once a battlefield and most of the time we are in rural France! Walking boots are ideal. In warm weather always bring a hat and sun cream, and it is advisable to have a supply of water.

Specialist Battlefield Guides

All of Leger’s battlefield tours are accompanied by specialist guides. Their individual in-depth knowledge of warfare will be informative, as well as enhance your overall experience, as they recreate a fascinating perception of the history and factual events of each battle. Discover the actual catalysts for war, the strategies employed and the final, inevitable outcomes, as well as experiencing the emotional human side of the front line.

Please note: On certain tours, you may get tour guides other that the ones listed below.

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You will stay for four nights at the recently refurbished 4-star Novotel Metz Hauconcourt.

Travel Options

All our coaches and transfer vehicles operate a 'no smoking on board policy'. The use of electronic cigarettes is strictly forbidden.
In the interest of fellow guests, do not take hot food or ice cream on board.
alcohol can only be taken on board our vehicles at the discretion of your driver.

When it comes to getting to the Battlefields, Leger Holidays make it easy, with a selection of travel options for you choose from.

Travel Extras

With an overnight stay or the option to meet us at the interchange, our travel extras allow you to create a travel experience to suit your needs...

Join coach at Interchange

Join your tour coach at the interchange.

On most tours if you’d prefer to join your tour coach at Stop 24 services, you can park your car in the car park which is accredited by the Park Mark safer parking scheme and is monitored 24 hours a day by CCTV. Payment for the parking is made on arrival using the self-service machines.

Excludes tours to Ireland and the U.K. and tours travelling via Brittany Ferries.

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