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Easy French Practice

WW1 in France – Verdun’s Battlefield – Bilingual Story

By Steve Oswald on May 18, 2015

Let’s learn about WW1 in France and the tragic battle of Verdun and practice our French with this French English bilingual story written in easy French.

1 – The Battlefield of Verdun

Le ciel Ă©tait couvert et il faisait frais lorsque notre bus est arrivĂ© Ă  Verdun. Le temps reflĂ©tait notre humeur, qui Ă©tait un peu maussade, parce que nous allions visiter le champ de bataille de Verdun, le site d’une des plus violentes batailles de la premiĂšre guerre mondiale.

The sky was overcast and it was cool when our bus arrived in Verdun. The weather reflected our mood, which was a bit gloomy, because we were going to visit the battlefield of Verdun, the site of one of the most violent battles of the First World War.

Nous avons traversĂ© la riviĂšre de la Meuse qui passe par le village de Verdun et nous nous sommes arrĂȘtĂ©s Ă  l’Office de Tourisme oĂč nous avons retrouvĂ© notre guide locale qui s’appelait Florence. Elle a grandi Ă  Verdun donc elle connaĂźt bien l’histoire de la bataille et de la rĂ©gion. Florence est montĂ©e dans le bus et nous avons roulĂ© vers notre premier arrĂȘt, le Fort de Douaumont.

We crossed the Meuse River which runs through the village of Verdun and we stopped at the Tourist Bureau where we met our local guide who was named Florence. She grew up in Verdun and so knows the history of the battle and the area well. Florence climbed into the bus and we drove toward our first stop, Fort Douaumont.

2 – Fort Douaumont

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Pendant notre trajet jusqu’au fort, nous avons vu plusieurs panneaux qui dĂ©conseillent de se promener dans la campagne parce qu’il reste du matĂ©riel de guerre actif, et c’est toujours trĂšs dangereux de se promener lĂ -bas.

During our ride to the fort, we saw several signs which advised against walking around the countryside because live ordnance remains, and it is always very dangerous to walk there.

learn french ww1

3 – The Battle of Verdun

Pour protĂ©ger le village de Verdun contre un assaut Ă  la fin du dix-neuviĂšme siĂšcle, les Français avaient construit une file de 19 fortifications, dont le Fort de Douaumont, qui Ă©tait la plus grande et la plus haute. La bataille de Verdun a eu lieu dans les collines au nord du village Ă©ponyme. Cette bataille Ă©tait une des plus grandes batailles de la premiĂšre guerre mondiale et, en fait, de tout le vingtiĂšme siĂšcle. Elle a durĂ© 10 mois pendant l’annĂ©e 1916 et a provoquĂ© plus de 700.000 morts et blessĂ©s.

In order to protect the village of Verdun against an assault at the close of the 19th century, the French had built a line of 19 fortifications, of which Fort Douaumont was the largest and the highest. The battle of Verdun took place in the hills north of the village of the same name. This battle was one of the largest battles of the First World Was and, in fact, of the entire 20th century. It lasted 10 months during 1916 and brought about more than 700,000 dead and wounded.

learn french ww1

4 – 60 million Artillery Shells

Le Fort de Douaumont Ă©tait au milieu du combat et il a changĂ© de mains plusieurs fois pendant la bataille entre les Français et les Allemands. On peut entrer dans le fort pour voir les galeries, les casernes, et les autres piĂšces souterraines oĂč les soldats ont habitĂ© et ont endurĂ© les bombardements qui Ă©taient presque constants.

Fort Douaumont was in the middle of the fighting and it changed hands several times between the French and the Germans during the battle. One can enter into the fort to see the tunnels, barracks, and other subterranean rooms where the soldiers lived and endured the bombardments which were nearly constant.

Les historiens ont dit que 60 millions d’obus avaient Ă©tĂ© tirĂ©s pendant la bataille. Il est impossible d’imaginer les horreurs qu’ont pu vivre ces soldats, constamment bombardĂ©s et coincĂ©s dans un espace si petit. Je n’aurais pas aimĂ© ĂȘtre Ă  leur place.

Historians say 60 million artillery shells were fired during the battle. It is impossible to imagine the horrors that these soldiers lived through, constantly bombarded and caught in a space so small. I would not have liked to be in their position.

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5 – Douaumont Ossuary

Notre dernier arrĂȘt Ă©tait Ă  l’Ossuaire de Douaumont. Ce bĂątiment est long et Ă©troit avec une tour qui se situe au milieu du bĂątiment. Cela donne l’apparence de la poignĂ©e d’une Ă©pĂ©e qui s’enfonce dans le sol jusqu’à la garde. Les os de plus de 130.000 soldats inconnus y sont enterrĂ©s. Nous avons regardĂ© un film dans L’Ossuaire qui raconte l’histoire de la bataille.

Our last stop was the Douaumont Ossuary. This building is long and narrow with a tour situated in the middle of the building. This gives the appearance of a handle of a sword that is thrust into the ground up to the hilt. The bones of more than 130,000 unknown soldiers are buried there. We watched a film in the Ossuary which recounted the story of the battle.

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Un fait intĂ©ressant que nous avons appris pendant le film : il y avait 9 villages aux alentours de Verdun qui ont Ă©tĂ© complĂštement anĂ©antis par les bombardements. Pour honorer les six qui n’ont jamais Ă©tĂ© reconstruits, le nom de ces villages qui « sont morts pour La France », est encore indiquĂ© sur les cartes actuelles, et les autoritĂ©s locales Ă©lisent toujours un maire pour reprĂ©senter chacun des anciens villages.

One interesting fact that we learned during the film: there were 9 villages in the area around Verdun which were completely wiped out by the bombardments. In order to honor the six which were never reconstructed, the names of these villages, which “died for France”, are still indicated on current maps, and local authorities still elect a mayor to represent each of the former villages.

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