The unspeakable atrocities that took place in and around Verdun between 21 February and 18 December 1916, the longest battle of WWI, have turned the town’s name into a byword for wartime slaughter and futile sacrifice.
Such a dark past means that Verdun always has an air of melancholy, even when the sun bounces brightly off the River Meuse and the town’s shuttered houses. Go to the moonscape hills of the Verdun battlefields, scarred with trenches and shells; walk through the stony silence of the cemeteries as the morning mist rises, and you will understand why. Time has healed and trees have grown, but the memory of l’enfer de Verdun (the hell of Verdun) has survived. And, some say, may it never be forgotten.