In most respects Peronne is the epitome of a small, idyllic rural French town. Situated atop a hill beside the Somme River and surrounded by swathes of picturesque open farmland, Peronne dates back to medieval times when it was a heavily fortified village; traces of the original defensive walls dating from the ninth century can still be seen today.
That anything of Peronne remains to be visited today could be regarded as a minor miracle. The town has endured a particularly turbulent history. Peronne was burned and ransacked during the Norman Era, suffered extensive damage during Spanish occupation in the sixteenth century, was the site of further devastation during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, was almost entirely laid to ruin during the First World War and was bombed and burned again in World War II.
It is Peronne's strong links with French history and particularly with the First World War and the events that took place on the battlefields of the Somme that make the town a compelling destination for visitors today. Centuries of repeated destruction have removed much of the town's ancient architecture, although Peronne's medieval castle constructed in 1204 has largely survived and now houses the outstanding Historial de la Grande Guerre (Museum of the Great War) which is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in modern military history.
For many visitors Peronne is the perfect base from which to explore the battlefields of the Somme; the site of the notorious historic battles which took place between warring Allied and German forces from June until November 1916 and which resulted in a significant loss of life on both sides.
The Circuit of Remembrance is a forty-mile round trip between the towns of Peronne and Albert that visits each of the important sites, cemeteries and memorials in locations where key battles were fought. The circuit is unique in that it can be completed on foot, by car, by horse and cart or even via steam railway following the lines that were used to transport supplies to the troops.
The Circuit of Remembrance takes in memorials to the French, Australian, South African, British and German soldiers who died during the First World War, with notable landmarks including the Franco-British Memorial - the largest British war memorial in the world - and the Gothic-styled Ulster Tower, both of which can be found in the town of Thiepval and the beautiful Chapelle du Souvenir Français at Rancourt, which is the site of the largest French cemetery in the Somme region.