Reims and the Chemin des Dames

In my last post, you saw the cultural and natural surroundings of Reims. Today, I’ll show the city from a completely different point of view: that of World War I.

According to Wikipedia,

In France, the Chemin des Dames (literally, the “ladies’ path”) is part of the D18 and runs east and west in the département of Aisne, between in the west, the Route Nationale 2, (Laon to Soissons) and in the east, the D1044 at Corbeny. It is some thirty kilometres long and runs along a ridge between the valleys of the rivers Aisne and Ailette. It acquired the name in the 18th century, as it was the route taken by the two daughters of Louis XV, Adélaïde and Victoire, who were known as Ladies of France. At the time, it was scarcely a carriage road, but it was the most direct route between Paris and the Château de Boves, near Vauclair, on the far side of the Ailette. The château belonged to Françoise de Châlus, former mistress of Louis XV, Countess of Narbonne-Lara and former lady of honour to Adélaïde, whom the two ladies visited frequently. To make the way easier, the count had the road surfaced, and it gained its new name. The ridge’s strategic importance first became evident in 1814 when Napoleon‘s young recruits beat an army of Prussians and Russians at the Battle of Craonne.

During World War I, three important battles took place in this area: the First, Second and Third Battle of the Aisne. This is what Ingrid and I found along the Chemin des Dames.

Bligny – Chambrecy Italian Cemetery

70% of the Italian soldiers who died in France during World War I are buried here. Or in other words, more than 3.400 graves… On the other side of the road, you can visit the Field of Remembrance.

The Courville Wash-House Monument

This small building commemorates a young American aviator, shot out of the sky above the village of Courville.

American Memorial Bridge of Fismes

This bridge was blown up twice by the Germans, the first time in May 1918 and the second time in World War II. This memorial is in memory of the Americans who died here during World War I.

Monument to the French Trench Mortars

I think we associate World War I especially with the brutal fights in the trenches. This monument pays tribute to 12.000 French soldiers who died in the trenches all over Europe. As you can see, the memorial has an odd shape; it resembles a mortar bomb.

Cerny-en-Laonnois Memorial Chapel

This is a beautiful chapel that commemorates soldiers of different nationalities who died in this region. I think the pictures say it all…

The Basque Memorial

A monument for the 36th Infantry Division, whose soldiers came mainly from Southwest France. Note that the statue at the base of the memorial depicts a person in civilian clothes, rather than in a uniform.

Berry-au-Bac Tank Memorial

This was quite an impressive memorial; just a shame that it is located near a very busy intersection.

We put the most impressive places around Reims in a video for you.

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