Located 22 km from Verdun, Les Eparges is a ridge overlooking the Woëvre Plain opening out towards the town of Metz. It was the scene of terrible fighting, especially in 1915. It was in this sector, which includes the Calonne Trench, that literary conscripts were brought face to face with the Great War. Alain Fournier and Louis Pergaud were both killed in 1914. Others who fought here included Jean Giono, Ernst Jünger and Maurice Genevoix, member of the Académie française and author of a monumental memoir, The Men of 1914.
The bloody fighting here was a precursor to the violence of the Battle of Verdun in 1916. The French attacked Les Eparges in the spring of 1915 in their attempt to take the Saint-Mihiel Salient because the ridge was a strategic point overlooking the Meuse Hills. The Germans counterattacked. The battle above ground was backed up by an underground conflict in the form of "mine warfare" deep inside the hill. The sector was not finally recaptured until 1918.
The ridge still bears the scars of mine warfare in the form of craters left by the explosive charges. There are also numerous memorials across the site - Mémorial du Génie (engineers' memorial), Monument du point X (the Point X memorial) and its panoramic view, and the Monument du Coq (memorial to the 12th infantry division) to name but a few. At the foot of the hill is a French military cemetery, the Cimetière du Trottoir.
No guided tours.
The Alain Fournier memorial stands in the Calonne Forest. It is a glass pyramid indicating the spot where the bodies of the writer and his men were found, 70 years after their mysterious disappearance. They were reburied in the cemetery in Saint-Remy la Calonne.