Rendez-vous au Somme 1916 Museum
Through a 250 metre long tunnel, 10 metres deep, you will be able to explore the lives of the soldiers in the trenches. These tunnels date from the 13th transformed into air-raid shelters in 1938. Remarkable lifelike dioramas will surprise you in an atmosphere that feels heroic, yet terrible, with a gripping realism that will help you to understand the hard life our ancestors had.
In reconstructed trenches you will discover how men faced the enemy, mud, cold, frost, sleepless nights and hygiene problems. In the trenches, soldiers often had to cope with lice, fleas and rats attracted by the corpses…
The style of the museum tries to make sense, arouse emotions and restore the human dimension of history and its dramatic tension through a fine collection of objects, equipment, weapons, and military or personal souvenirs of men from the main nations at war. As you leave the tunnels you will pass through an area where light and sound will make you imagine that you are walking through a trench, in the dead of night, under artillery fire….
The brand new "Heroes’ Gallery" presents nine personalities who marked the Great War; men and women such as, John McCrae, who wrote the famous poem "In Flanders' Fields", or Sadi Lecointe, airman and fighter pilot.
Leading from this gallery is a souvenir and militaria shop, and further on two large briefing rooms where you can find our nine heroes.
At the end of your visit you will be able to explore the public gardens and arboretum where the River Ancre flows.
This museum is a reminder, for present and future generations, of the sacrifice of millions of young soldiers. Whatever their nationality, these men suffered or gave their lives for a cause they believed in or to defend the right to freedom.
During the First World War, Albert suffered appalling material damage. Occupied by the Germans in 1914 before they retreated to the Marne, it was subjected to incessant bombardments. During the Battle of the Somme, the town became a centre for intense military activity (staff offices, billets, munitions, hospitals, etc.) After its recapture by the Germans in March 1918 and its final liberation by British troops in August 1918, nothing remained of the town but a vast expanse of ruins.
The town was completely rebuilt and 260 house and shop facades show the arrival of the Art-deco period from the 1920's to 1930's. The Basilica Notre Dame de Brebières displays the most spectacular architecture in the town of Albert and surprises visitors by its dimensions, its style and the richness of its decoration.
Albert, christened the "Lourdes of the North", was a shrine for pilgrims from the 11th Century. The original Basilica was built between 1885 and 1897, by the architect Edmond Dutholt and was an architectural jewel in a Neo-Byzantine style. Alas it was not to be spared in the Great War, the top of the steeple was hit on the 15th German shell and the statue of "Mary with baby Jesus", sculpted by Albert Roze, tipped over until it was horizontal.
A legend was born of the "Leaning Virgin" that predicted the end of the war "The war will end when the virgin falls"…
The German army occupied the town until spring 1918 and the British bombarded the Basilica to prevent the enemy using the steeple as an observation post. The statue fell… The Basilica has been loyally rebuilt following its original plans by Louis Dutholt, who is none other but the son of the original architect Edmond Dutholt.