Somme 1916 Museum (Musée Somme 1916)
The Battle of the Somme, fought over five months during 1916, was one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. The Somme 1916 Museum (Musée Somme 1916), set in medieval tunnels in the French town of Albert, includes a re-creation of the trenches and a first aid post, as well as photos, memorabilia, videos, and posed models.
During the Somme offensive, Albert was the most important town behind Allied lines for British and French forces fighting against the Germans. Travelers often visit the Somme 1916 Museum as part of a World War I battlefield and graveyard tour, either self-guided or as a group. Tickets are affordably priced, with discounts for veterans, children, students, and people with disabilities, and it’s worth prebooking online. Dedicated history buffs will want to base themselves in Amiens, or even Albert, but it’s also possible to tour the Somme on a day trip from Paris, around two hours away.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Somme 1916 Museum is a must for history buffs and anyone with a family connection to the battle. It’s also a good educational choice with kids.
Exhibits are clearly signed in four languages: English, French, German, and Dutch.
The museum’s documentary is a great introduction to the Somme for travelers on a battlefield tour.
The museum is set below ground in ancient tunnels used as an air-raid shelter during World War II. It’s not wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
The Somme 1916 Museum is located in the town of Albert, and its entrance is under the Basilica of Our Lady of Brebières (Basilique Notre-Dame de Brebières). Albert is about 30 minutes from Amiens by train, and the museum is a 5-minute walk from the station. If you’re coming from Paris, your quickest train option is from Gare du Nord via Amiens.
When to Get There
The museum is open from the end of January until mid-December and operates from morning until early evening seven days a week. Avoid weekends during the summer peak. Midafternoon is often a good time to arrive, as big groups tend to come through in the morning.
What Was the Somme?
Also known as the Somme Offensive, the Battle of the Somme (technically, the First Battle of the Somme) was one of the First World War’s most painful and pointless encounters. The aim was for Allied forces to deliver a decisive blow to the Germans, but at the end of five months’ fighting, around 1,300,000 soldiers had been seriously injured or killed in action, while Allied forces had advanced just 6 miles (10 kilometers).