When you visit the Somme where to stay is important. The bustling city of Arras is an ideal place to stay when you Visit The Somme battlefields.
Arras has a population of over 43,000 and is the capitol of the Pas-de-Calais region. It is a communication, farm and industrial centre with oil works and factories making machinery, metal products, and esparto goods. Despite extensive damage in both World Wars Arras retains much of its old Spanish-Flemish flavour. The town square, bordered by 17th century buildings, forms a notable ensemble of Flemish architecture.
Being close to the front line it was very badly damaged during the First World War but remained a key allied strong point. Being built on chalk it was easy to dig large underground caves for housing troops and stores. Soldiers from New Zealand mining companies played a key role in the tunnelling and you can now visit the underground museum, Carriere Wellington, which incorporates parts of the tunnel system. You can also see the memorial to the 41 New Zealand tunnellers who lost their lives.
Arras was completely rebuilt and boasts an excellent range of hotels to fit all budgets. The city has good road connections making touring the local area easy, and also has a good rail service, so you can access Arras by TGV from Paris quickly.
The centre of the city is designed around a very attractive square, which has lots of bars, restaurants and cafes. It makes for a relaxing wind-down after a busy day of touring the battlefields. The main square is especially striking after dark when it is all floodlit.
Visit the Somme where to stay if you want somewhere quieter than Arras then stay in Albert. The town was also right in the front line during the fighting and, like Arras, was very largely destroyed. Albert was completely reconstructed after the war, including widening and re-orienting the town’s main streets. The Basilica was faithfully rebuilt to the original design and, when you walk around inside, you simply can’t imagine the total destruction that took place.
Explore the adjacent Abri [shelter] museum which houses souvenirs of the war. The underground shelters in which the museum is located served as protective bunkers for local residents during bombardments.
Albert is ideally situated for touring the battlefields, It has fewer hotels but they are traditional French hotels – basic but offering excellent hospitality and food. Some are right opposite the Basilica, which played a key role in the fighting.
Atop the Basilica is the Golden Virgin and during the Great War a number of legends developed among both sides fighting for control of Albert. The leaning Virgin became a common sight for the thousands of British troop passing through Albert, which was only three miles from the front lines.
Sitting in one of the cafes today, right opposite the Basilica, it is hard to imagine what Albert must have looked like after the end of the First World War
Also, as you look at the Basilica, you can see a rather striking similarity between its overall appearance and the design of the Thiepval Memorial. Did Sir Edward Lutyens perhaps sit in this very café with his sketch pad handy as he planned his famous memorial?
Hopefully these ideas when you visit the Somme where to stay are useful.
If you found Visit the Somme where to stay helpful link to:
Visit the Somme - an outline history of the conflict.
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