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
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 railroad 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.