Douaumont Ossuary.

© Oliver Hlavaty Photo/Shutterstock

Ossuaire de Douaumont


Rising like a gigantic artillery shell above 15,000 crosses that bleed into the distance, this sombre, 137m-long ossuary, inaugurated in 1932, is one of France’s most important WWI memorials. A ticket to the 20-minute audiovisual presentation (adult/child €6/3) on the battle also lets you climb the 46m-high bell tower. Out front, the French military cemetery is flanked by memorials to Muslim and Jewish soldiers (to the east and west, respectively) who died fighting for France in WWI.

The ossuary contains the bones of about 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers collected from the Verdun battlefields and buried together in 52 mass graves according to where they fell. Each engraved stone denotes a missing soldier, while a touching display of photographs shows Verdun survivors – as they were in WWI and as they were later in life.

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