Visit Peronne by Mouse
Peronne is in the Somme valley, 86 miles northeast of Paris and 107 miles southwest of Brussels. There is precious little information available on the internet about this town. When you think of war-torn places, think Peronne. It was totally destroyed by war both in 1870 and in 1918 and heavily damaged in WWII. We came upon it on our second visit to Paris in 2002 when the route took us through the town. Approaching a traffic light we spied this medieval structure, looking like twin towers set back from the road and a sign that had on it the word "Historiale". We did not know what that meant but were intrigued enough to stop and inquire at the tourist office, which we came upon just a little farther on. They told us that the structure was the entrance to a museum about World War I. So we inquired about a campground and found that the town had one on the Somme River. We decided to stay, visit the museum, walk around a little and continue on to Paris the next morning.
A tourist office web site about the Somme area has some information about the town. The Historiale museum is both interesting and useful in helping you understand the course of the WWI's battles. Signs are in both French and English. Displays are of uniforms, weapons, protective gear which look understandably flimsy as protection against machine gun bullets or anything worse. One display shows the medical gear used to treat wounds, including peg leg for amputees. (Photos) (Slideshow)One part of the exhibit featured the doings of a group of well-off American women who served as nurses. After the war, this area was so devastated that keeping the survivors from starving to death was a very large problem. These women formed a group that paid for the importation of rabbits to make meat available more quickly than would be the case with sheep or cattle. To this day one sees displays of rabbit meat in stores that are much larger than those displays are in the US. It is pretty clear that rabbit meat still is a large part of the European diet.
Peronne marks the southeast corner of the WWI battles of the Somme which stretched northwest to Albert. Many thousands died here in trench warfare. A Memorial in Thiepval just north of Albert lists the names of 72,000 who died there, and they represent only a franction of all who died because there were so many that could not be identified. There are trenches between Peronne and Albert that can be visited. Some photos of these are available on the internet.
We are loath to say much about the town itself, because of our short visit. It is still there after having to rebuild itself totally twice and partly once. Clearly it is a survivor, and that is something that the townspeople can be proud of. Letter
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The Historiale entrance
WW I shell damage
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WW I uniforms
(click for more photos)
(Slideshow)
(click for more photos)
(Slideshow)
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