After leaving Reims we had just a short hop through the French countryside to our next stop on our road trip, Verdun. We had taken the decision early on to avoid toll roads in the continent wherever practical; this was for two reasons: partly to stop the trip from becoming ruinously expensive, but mainly it was because we knew we would see much more of the rural country on our way.
This part of north-east France is battlefield territory. A lot of battles of the First World War took place around those parts. It was a memorial to some of these battles that drew us to Verdun.
This is the Voie Sacrée memorial, which probably isn’t the memorial we were looking for, but it caught our eye as we approached the town. The Voie Sacrée is a road that played a pivotal role in the Battle of Verdun, and this monument, which sits on that very road, is a memorial of those who kept road open in the toughest of conditions.
We left the monument and soon found ourselves in Verdun proper, parking next to this wonderful old gate, which a little bit of internet sleuthing tells me I don’t know the name of.
This gate still had a lot of its old mechanism in it and some great wood and metal textures to it, which made it great to explore with my lens.
I love using monochrome to bring out the textures of things, and two materials with great textures are weathered wood and rusty metal, something this gate and its mechanism have in droves.
Sometimes, however, I left a hint of colour in.
Elsewhere in the town, on the river, there is this small, unfinished castle thing which probably has a formal name but I’ve no idea what that might be.
Whatever it is, it has a portcullis.
On the other side of the river to the unnamed half-castle was another war memorial which wasn’t the one we were aiming for.
As it was a bit of a cloudy day, and there was a lovely reflective river and a bunch of old buildings to see, I decided to try some HDR shots. Handheld, of course, because I’m too lazy to carry my tripod around most of the time and left it in my car.
There was another bridge further up the river with some more interesting buildings.
On the other side of the river was the Quai de Londres, one of the few areas of the city we visited that is actually named on its Wikipedia page.
Further along the Quai de Londres is a fountain in the river, for some reason. This is a shot of that from the Verdun Victory Monument.
Atop the hill, near what I think is the Châtel Gate, I found an oldish house partly obscured by trees, which I felt gave it a creepy vibe. So I processed the photo to try to emphasise that.
This wasn’t the only potentially spooky house on the hill, there was this one too, behind a padlocked gate which only added to the atmosphere.
With the weather turning, we began heading towards our car. On the way I took a shot of the Verdun Victory Monument from the fountain.
I’m aware that there’s a car in the frame. It arrived just as I crouched down to take the shot, and after giving it a couple of minutes it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be leaving in a hurry, so I took the shot anyway.
After this we returned to our car, and headed off to our next stop and overnight halt. Little did we know, however, we’d find something else on the way that was worth stopping for.
A Taste of Europe