понедельник, 12 марта 2012 г.

Tips for touring battlefields, from Flanders to the Marne

The best way to tour the World War I battlefields of northernFrance and Belgium is by automobile. Michelin sectional maps, at ascale of about 1 inch to 3 miles, provide detailed information forfinding cemeteries, memorials and other sites, which often arelocated on secondary roads.

Most of the old battlefields lie beyond the normal touristcircuit, so choices of lodging and restaurants are more limited thanin heavily traveled areas. But it is difficult to dine poorly inFrance or Belgium.

When exploring World War I battlefields, be wary of picking updebris. Unexploded shells can still present a hazard, even 75 yearsafter they were manufactured.

The most detailed book on Western Front sites is BeforeEndeavours Fade: A Guide to the Battlefields of the First World War,by Rose E.B. Coombs (fifth edition, 1986). Also very useful is AGuide to the Western Front: A Companion for Travellers, by VictorNeuburg (published in 1988 by Penguin).

Gene Smith's Still Quiet on the Western Front: 50 Years Later,while not a guidebook as such, can serve as an inspirationalcompanion for anyone touring World War I sites. The 25th-anniversaryedition of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August, published last yearby Macmillan, makes a good starting point for background reading onthe war.

General information is available from the French GovernmentTourist Office, 645 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611 (call 337-6301);and the Belgian Tourist Office, 745 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10151(call 212-758-8130).

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