Visiting the Somme Battlefields, a Must-Do in France

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When we left our hotel just north of Paris to make our way to the ferry port at the end of our trans Europe road trip we didn’t know that our evening’s accommodation was in one of the most fascinating and historic parts of France. Not far from Amiens and our hotel, I spotted a sign for the Somme Valley. A little later a second sign for a memorial cemetery, 2 and 2 made a certainty, we were on the Somme Battlefields. Rolling fields newly harvested and quaint rural villages dotted the landscape as we took a diversion and followed the signs to the first cemetery of many in just one fascinating and memorable afternoon. The kids whined, they just wanted Wi-Fi and hotel comforts, but even they found some interest as we started touring the graves. Things got more and more interesting for them as we found craters, trenches, history, and tragedy exploring this small region of massacre.

If you’re planning on visiting the Somme Battlefields, check out the hotels in Albert, France here on, or here on Expedia.

World War 1 poppies Tower of London centenary 2014
2014. As volunteers started assembling the massive World War 1 commemorative piece at London‘s Tower, my boys started to learn about WW 1. In France, on The Somme battlefields, they added depth and experience to that education.

This historical period first made its way into the kids’ joint consciousness back in 2014 when we were based in London for the 100-year anniversary of World War I‘s beginning.

Red ceramic flowers spilled from the Tower of London and towards the Thames, we read war poems online and watched dramatisations about tragic boy soldiers on the BBC. Our day on the Somme, shortly before the second round of centenary memorials added an extra layer of understanding and depth to their world schooling or homeschooling education.

There is no way anyone could learn as much from a book as by spending an afternoon on these battlefields.

This is a story of photos because that’s the best way to show you some of what’s here on the River Somme.

Photos from the Somme Battlefields, France,

Somme France French cemetary
Mort pour la France. Relatives had found and personalised some of the hundreds of graves in this French cemetery.
Somme Muslim grave in cemetary. Muslim soldiers fought for France
Of course, not all French soldiers were Christian. Muslims and Buddhists fought for France too and had suitable grave markers.

somme Wales Grave of Welsh soldier France World War 1
Graves of soldiers from my home country, Wales.

The graves and memorials of soldiers of many nationalities are prolific around The Somme Valley.

Somme Canada memorial. Canadian soldiers cemetary
There is a huge memorial to the Canadian dead. Their trenches are preserved and dotted with cemeteries, monuments, and bomb craters.
Somme France. Visiting Trenches World War 1
One trench, found behind a local cafe, is restored to an approximation of its original condition and free to enter. This is an original WW1 trench, not a reconstruction.
Somme trenches today
Others are grassed over in peaceful new forests. Almost every tree was destroyed 100 years ago. The WW1 trenches today have been softened by time and nature, but they’re still there, as are the huge bomb craters.

Where to Visit on The Somme Battlefields

There are many sites of interest and cemeteries in the Somme Valley. Rather than listing every destination myself, I’ll send you to this site, it’s the one we used to figure out where to go.

We highly recommend taking a car. If you want to check out our road trip costs, click-through.

Where to Stay When Visiting The Somme Region

We stayed in Amiens at the Première Classe Amiens, an ideal low-cost road trip hotel with family rooms. This region is dotted with quaint villages and moderately sized towns and cities, there are hundreds of accommodation options.

Other towns in the region that would be good bases for visiting the Somme Battlefields are Albert and Aras. Albert can normally be reached by rail via the EuroStar from Lille.

For you, for Pinterest

 Visiting the Somme Battlefields France

Where Are The Somme Battlefields in France?

The Somme Battlefields are in the Picardie region of France. Since 1 January 2016, Picardie (Picardy in English) has been part of the new region of Hauts-de-France which also incorporates Nord-pas-de Calais (The north, except Calais). It is located in the northern part of France and parts of historical Picardie had borders with the British Channel to the west. (source)

Calais is the nearest major ferry port to the Picardie region and is to the north of the Somme Battlefields at a distance of about 75 miles, 120 km.

Somme Battlefields From Paris

Paris is south of the Somme Battlefields. The distance is roughly the same as from Calais, 120 Km or 75 miles. The drive time should be about 2 hours depending on traffic and exactly where you choose to go.

You can book a tour of the Somme Battlefields and region if you are staying in Paris. You can find out more and reserve your spot here.

If you’d prefer to self-drive and visit the region at your leisure, we suggest you look at Discover Cars to find the best deal. Driving in Paris is not for nervous drivers, and traffic can be terrible.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Paris for your visit to the Somme trenches, we have a guide to the best (expensive) hotels in Paris for families, alternatively, see Paris hotels here.

Paris has the nearest airports for visiting the Somme Battlefields. If you choose not to rent a car in Paris you can take a train to Albert. Check out the hotels in Albert France here.

Where Was The Battle Of The Somme

The Battle of the Somme, or the Somme Offensive, took place in 1916 along 40 miles of the Somme River in France. The battle lasted 5 months and the number of casualties was horrific. To read more about this horrific era of history, go here.

More World War Worldschooling Coming Soon

We’re on our way to Vietnam. Another country, another war. I’m writing this from London, curled up on the sofa with a child snuggled into me on either side.

We decided to start learning about Vietnam this morning and the movie Good Morning Vietnam is their first real glimpse of the horrors that conflict brought. It’s sad, so very sad. But they have to know and they have to remember.

So on we go, to learn more about the world, that it’s fabulous and it’s tragic. I hope their generation fully learns the lessons of history so clearly presented to anyone who pays attention.

If you’re interested in the concept of worldschooling, we are the experts, you can sign up for our worldschooling newsletter. My kids were certainly inspired by history and did extremely well in their future exams.

Visiting The Somme Trenches

It was very much worth visiting the Somme Trenches and we all learned a lot from this trip. This is also a very beautiful part of France, so yes, we recommend you visit the Somme area, battlefields, and trenches. Tell me in the comments if you plan to go, and of course, I’ll answer any questions.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

7 thoughts on “Visiting the Somme Battlefields, a Must-Do in France”

  1. My Dad is a Vietnam Vet. While he didn’t lose his life there, he indeed left it there. When he came back, under 20 years old and stricken with SEVERE PTSD that would go undiagnosed for 25 years. By the time it was he had already ruined his marriage, his children childhoods and wifes life — not to mention his own. It took him jumping out of a 5 story window int he midst of a flash back in front of my 17 year old brother for them to start taking notice. By then it was far too late. He died last year, just a few months past his 65th birthday. He moved in with me the last 6months, he stopped recognizing me but never forgot me — he would talk bout me not realizing it was me he was talking to. He ended up in diapers, I would bathe him in he middle of the night when he would have bowel movements, bells on his bed so I could hear when he would try o get out of bd as his mind was much stronger than his body. The war took everything form him — the military used him up in his youngest years – his strongest years and threw him away like garbage thereafter. IDK if there are a group of veterans more mistreated then those of Vietnam.


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