For historical and cultural context, the best place to begin a visit to the Somme battlefields is the outstanding Historial de la Grande Guerre in Péronne, 60km east of Amiens. Located inside the town's fortified medieval château, this award-winning museum tells the story of the war chronologically, with equal space given to the German, French and British perspectives on what happened, how and why.
Its unique collection of visually engaging material includes period films and the bone-chilling engravings by Otto Dix, which capture the aesthetic sensibilities, enthusiasm, naive patriotism and unimaginable violence of the time. The proud uniforms of various units and armies are shown laid out on the ground, as if on freshly (though bloodlessly) dead soldiers.
A second museum is located in Thiepval, 8km northeast of Albert.