2021 Barcelona

09/08, day 5, Etang du haut chemin

Woke up with a shining sun this morning ☺️ The day started with a nice descent and then some manageable hills. After those, I found the river Meuse again ☺️ Very nice to see the river this far south, meandering its way through the hills of Northern France. Following the river I made my way to Verdun, which is well known for its 10 month bloody battle during World War 1. I rode my bike up the hill to the Ossuary and fort Douaumont. 700.000 people died during the battle here, which was mainly intended by the Germans to attract and kill as many French forces as possible, in the hope that this would weaken their defenses elsewhere. After the war the whole area surrounding the fort was designated a red zone because it was polluted with ammunition, explosives and some 80.000 dead soldiers that still lie scattered in the ground. At some point trees were planted and the whole area was returned to nature. The forrest as it is now feels eerie, showing many remains of fortifications, trenches and numerous monuments dedicated to those who fought on either side. The crosses at the ossuary read the names of the soldiers and “mort pour la France”. Dead for France… It was quite an impressive visit… Wel worth the 200m climb up the hill… Puts things into perspective… And almost poetic to see the flags of Germany, France and Europe above the remains of the fort. Once enemies that are now working together in one union. A good lesson for those who ever question the advantages of such a union… One latin word above the entrance of the ossuary teaches us the one lesson that 700.000 dead have taught us….

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