Jean-Paul de Vries has created a museum like nothing I’ve ever seen or experienced elsewhere in Europe, in Romagne, France.
I spent two days touring the Meuse-Argonne WWI battlefields of France with Bruce Malone last week. It was a fantastic surprise the morning Johan and I left our apartment in Stenay to go to the Meuse-Argonne ABMC cemetery to meet Bruce and we passed by the Romagne ’14-’18 Museum. I excitedly told Johan I was Facebook friends with the owner and this museum was on my wish list to visit. I said we had to make sure we visited!
Wishes do come true because after touring in the morning, Bruce took us to the museum for a quick lunch, to meet Jean-Paul, and see the museum for a little while before we headed back out into the rain to hunt for German trenches and bunkers.
Astonishingly, the museum is totally hands-on. All the artifacts look like they did when discovered on the battlefield. Nothing here has been polished, refurbished, cleaned of debris or anything. I have never been in a museum where you could touch everything! It was fantastic.
We did not have a lot of time there so I walked through taking photos of much of it and feeling the energy of certain areas. As I spent time journaling about my visit I wish I’d had a bit more time to really BE with the artifacts and hold some. I wonder what i would have picked up or who I would have seen emerge from the museum shadows.
The number of artifacts is a bit overwhelming (and not all are on display Jean-Paul told us) – a section of two walls meeting in the corner filled with entrenching tools (shovels). Barbed wire, hundreds of dog tags, canteens, cutlery, and more. It really is a place to spend a couple of hours at least exploring every nook and cranny of this building. The building is not just one level – you can climb the stairs to additional levels above you. Incredible.
My goal is to make people aware of the senseless brutality of war.Jean-Paul de vries quoted in the book “the road to romagne”.
Would you like to learn more? Visit the Romagne 14-18 website. Add this museum to your travel itinerary and plan to spend at least two hours there. Enjoy lunch and explore their gift shop area – sales support the museum’s mission and survival. Pick up a copy of the book The Road to Romagne which is filled with beautiful photographs of the battlefields, history of the war and area, and the museum’s story. Enjoy the photos below which give a small glimpse into the majesty of this museum. The slideshow stars with war damaged painted red on the museum building.
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