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Paris, day trip to Great War Museum.

Hi, I’m interested in knowing if a half day trip to Great War Museum is worth a half day, I will have 3 full days in Paris. I am interested in the WW I, is museum worth a trip? Thanks.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
14945 posts

I'm not familiar with this museum in Peronne, but glad you mentioned it: www.historial.org. Train schedules will show you these options:

  • Fast, reserved train from CDG Airport TGV station to TGV Haute-Picardie station (30 minutes), then you probably need a taxi from there, as suggested by Rome2rio.com.
  • Slower train from Paris Nord to Amiens, then one or two train and bus connections operated by the railway (travel time 2.5-4 hours, depending on departure and date).

Have you been to Paris before? If not, there's so much to see there. The Musee de l'Armee at Les Invalides covers several periods: http://www.musee-armee.fr/en/english-version.html.

Posted by Susan
Prince George, BC, Canada
222 posts

My husband and I went to this museum several years ago and really enjoyed it. It does a very thorough job of displaying and talking about different aspects of WW1. I would definitely put it on your list of museums to see, but not sure I would use one of 3 days in Paris to go see it...... Just saying.

Posted by Bill OP
Danbury, Ct, Usa
94 posts

Thanks, I’ve been to Paris, just wondering if it is worth a half day. Are the displays in English?

Posted by Bill OP
Danbury, Ct, Usa
94 posts

Thanks Laura, I will visit Invalides, the Great War Museum is in Meaux.

Posted by Susan
Prince George, BC, Canada
222 posts

As I recall, we had an english audio guide when we went through the museum.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9642 posts

Hi,

There are two big museums on the Great War, one more doable from Paris than the other, Meaux and Peronne. Both these towns were in the thick of the fighting in 1914 (for Meaux) and Peronne (in 1918 during the "Kaiserschlacht,")

Take the regional train from Paris Est to Meaux. You can take the bus across the street from the train station, but I would suggest going by taxi instead of waiting 30-45 mins for the next bus. Across the street from the museum (diagonally) is the bus stop back to the train station. They run one per hour. I saw the Meaux museum last June, went through every single exhibit, obviously some more interesting than others, but it's comprehensive.

The Great War Museum in Peronne (close to Albert which also has WW1 museum since it was a BR Army HQ) in the Somme I've not seen, got there too late, ie 20 mins before closing. No train connection between Paris and Peronne.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9642 posts

Hi,

part 2 here. The displays in the Meaux museum have English explanations. Be advised that this museum will take more than half a day if you include seeing the book shop, which has a German and an English section and go through every single display and exhibit.

Lots of displays on guns, uniforms, maps, trenches, displays on war and society, key battles, watch how the Battle of the Marne, both of them, is explained with the electronic maps and with certain individuals focused, displays on propaganda, and the US role, etc.

Where the Museum is totally negligent in its treatment on the war among the Great Powers is that concerning Austria-Hungary...nothing on Austria and the Eastern Front, totally omitted. Actually not surprising either.

Posted by Wil
IJzendijke, The Netherlands
1197 posts

The museum in Meaux is nevertheless much French orientated certainly worth to visit. Items very well displayed and you get a good picture about the relationship between France and Germany in the period leading to the conflict. If this background info of interest for you then Meaux is the place to go. I found Peronne lesser interesting and to my opinion not really worth spending attention seen the limited time you have.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
2645 posts

I am largely in agreement with Fred regarding the Meaux museum. Of course the museum is about France; the First World War was indeed the country's "big" war. However, some of the museum's distinction lies in its attention to ordinary experiences, both for the soldiers and civilians, as well as the great battles and generals. For instance, I was fascinated by a huge pigeon wagon, illustrating the big role the birds played in communications on the front. Marshall Petain I can learn about in many places; not so easy to understand day-to-day life. A thorough exploration will take up a good part of a day including train travel from Paris. Meaux itself has a pretty square and ornamental flower garden plus a few places for lunch. Only the sturdy will undertake the walk to the far edge of town where the new museum is located.
http://www.museedelagrandeguerre.eu/en

Posted by Barbra
Burbank, CA
575 posts

Museum in Meaux is certainly worth it.

There are at least two or three buses that go there from the Meaux gare--trickiest part is which quai to wait at.

Be sure to get off the bus on the way back to town to check out the historical section. I found the tourist office very informative (even though I never did anything they said). They gave me a bunch of nice maps of the region.

Posted by Kate
Michigan
159 posts

Just wondering approx how much time each of you spent at the museum. Is it easily covered in 2-3 hours, or should we plan on more time there?

Posted by Barbra
Burbank, CA
575 posts

Two hours is my limit in any museum anyway (you get into the law of diminishing returns), but I did the Meaux museum in about that, and I think I covered everything.

Only issue I had with the place is that I didn't see anything on Edith Wharton in the extensive section on women in WWI.

Save a little time to check on the historic district, at least the cathedral. And the tourist office is helpful for things on the region, but I didn't have time for all that.

Posted by Southam
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
2645 posts

I was interested to look up Edith Wharton following the above prompt; I only knew her as an author. Seems her time in Paris was a direct contradiction to, or at least more vigorous than the gilded experiences of other romantic Americans during La Belle Epoque. Thanks.

Posted by Barbra
Burbank, CA
575 posts

Not a contradiction, I would say. She did the Gilded Age thing (she was born to it), for sure--house in Paris (58? rue Varenne) and then moved up north of the city, then a little diddy down in Hyeres for the winter. Lived in France from 1919, I believe, until her death in 1937-ish.

The difference is (cue John Edwards's voice) that she made four motor car trips to the front during the war. Then set up 20(?) various orphanages and workshops in the Paris area. She had the support of one Teddy Roosevelt, for example.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9642 posts

Hi,

On how much time to spend at the Meaux museum: That all depends on your level of interest in seeing the exhibits and taking pictures. For me it was most likely close to 3 hrs, since I watched the electronic map twice in following the Marne battle in 1914. The treatment on the US military role is also interesting and revealing.