PICARDY PéronnePéronne (pop 8,754) is located on the Upper Somme Valley in a region that was once known as Santerre (home to the early French kings). This town has a big motto etched on its crest- urbs nescia vinci ( 'the town that ignores defeat'). The reason for this loud motto is the town’s tumultuous war history. Having been in existence since the Middle Ages, Péronne has seen attacks from the Normans, the Spanish and most recently, the Germans (during the Battle of the Somme). The town was once guarded by the fortified, medieval château, which fell into disuse over the years.

The remains of this ancient building now act as the home of the Historial de la Grande Guerre (Museum of the Great War) [Château de Péronne, +33 322831418 http://en.historial.org ad/ch €7.50/3.80]. One of the most informative museums on the ‘Somme battlefield’ path, the museum offers a comprehensive exhibition that features the details of the political and cultural struggles that led to the war, soldiers’ personal memorabilia, uniforms and weaponry. The strikingly modern museum also displays civilian artefacts that provide a layman’s perspective of the war. You can also view over 50 period films that depict the major historical events which took place here, between 1914 and 1918.

If you are particularly interested in Péronne’s history, head over to the 19th century Hôtel de ville, which houses the Alfred Danicourt Museum [3 Place Louis Daudré, +33 322733100 www.visit-somme.com Free]. This museum is dedicated to displaying the town’s historical information, dating as far back as the Middle Ages. The museum was once the finest in the region, as it housed a stellar collection of medieval artefacts. Erected in 1877, by the town mayor, Alfred Danicourt, the museum suffered great damage and loss during the First World War, as it was damaged by gunfire and was even looted. The museum only began functioning about 40 years ago when the second round of restoration works took place in Péronne.

The Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Péronne is a historical building that has been ravaged by the hands of time. This flamboyant Gothic building also took a few hits during both the First and Second World Wars. Hence, it remains slightly damaged on its western front.

You can arrive at Péronne via train at the Gare Haute Picarde, located a few kilometres from the town itself. A short cab ride will bring you into town.


 

PÉRONNE STREET MAP:  1. Tourist Office  2.  Péronne Château & Historial de la Grande Guerre  3. Hôtel de ville & Alfred Danicourt Museum  4. Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Péronne

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