Today we decided we would visit the Museum of the Great War in nearby Meaux. We’d been intending to save it for a rainy day, but there doesn’t seem to be one in the offing. Tonight, we have a special night out so we thought a half day visit here with lunch out would be just the thing.
When we got to the Museum which is on the battlefield of the first Battle of the Marne, all the carparks were mysteriously closed off. Something was up!! We managed to park in a side street near the gateway and walked in. We could see tents and bivouacs set up in the grounds and people in various military uniforms. It turned out to be the annual re-enactment weekend, one of the Museum’s highlights. How lucky were we!!
The camps were set up in curving route around the grounds and the re-enacters were depicting different nationalities involved in the Battle in each stop and also different activities i.e. field hospitals, pigeon messengers, observation kites and balloons, French, German, English, Italian, Russian and Scottish troops. They were extremely well turned out – the uniforms looked really good, not as scratty as other re-enactment costumes I’ve seen. And the tents were very well set up with working stoves and all sorts. Our French was not up to a lot of conversation of a technical nature, but they were clearly very knowledgeable and informative. Most enjoyable. I don’t think they were actually going to do any “battling”, it seemed to be more in the nature of exhibiting with a bit of marching, music and gun firing.
After exploring the camps, we went into the museum proper. It’s a very modern interactive museum, no dusty cabinet displays here. The exhibits covered the background to the war, the war itself and the Peace and aftermath, running up to WW2. There were lots of film clips playing showing all aspects of the war, and also walk throughs where your every sense was immersed. Very, very interesting. Well worth a visit even if you are not a military history fan. The exhibits brought the whole impact of the war on the societies of the time very much to life. It was interesting also that the colonial forces were not overlooked, neither the English or the French and also those of the wider empires e.g. South Africa, India, French Africa, French Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand.
After our visit we were hungry for lunch. We intended to eat at a restaurant on the banks of the Marne but when we got there, they were full. Hmmmm. We headed back to Crecy La Chapelle and tried a different restaurant there, Chez Angelo. It was Italian, and they specialised in wood oven pizzas. We sat out on their terrace. Bob had a pizza and I had an onglet steak in gorgonzola sauce with green beans. All very nice and very generous portions.
We came back to the Marriott at around 230 and rested for the rest of the afternoon. Tonight we are excited to be going to a Candlelight Evening at Chateau Vaux le Vicomte. https://vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/news/the-candlelit-evenings/ We won’t get back till well after midnight, so I’ll write about that tomorrow.