Part of the time we were in Dormans was spent wandering around the vineyards behind the Memorial to the Battles of the Marne. Hubby and I didn’t actually go into the vineyards since we figured the champagne houses that own them would be upset if we did; but we walked along the edges and enjoyed looking at the grapes, which were getting close to harvest time. The greens and purples complemented each other and we admired the tidiness of the vineyards; they are obviously well tended, trimmed, and managed.
To access the vineyards from the memorial, simply walk through the archway in the cloister that leads behind the memorial. From there you will see a stone wall. We walked to the left of the stone wall which ends nearby and the vineyards are right behind the wall. There is both a paved road and a gravel road on which you can wander. From the paved road you can get some good photos of the countryside with the memorial in view (my top photo on my Dormans page is from this location). On a beautiful day, I highly recommend a stroll in the vineyards!
The memorial at Dormans was built in 1921 – the site was selected by Marshal Foch - and honors the soldiers who died in the two battles of the Marne and contains a crypt, a small chapel, and an ossuary of soldiers from all nations. The memorial was closed when we were there; we were there in the morning and it doesn’t open until 2:00 p.m. (April 1st – November 11th every day). But we were able to read the walls of the covered cloister that list the units who fought and peek into the small chapel through the fence that locked us out and see the entrance to the ossuary below which contains the remains of more than 1,500 soldiers. When the memorial is open, there are often exhibitions about the First World War, as well as a small chapel with stained glass windows and a crypt.
From the memorial, one can get a grand view of the Marne valley with its vineyards heading up the next hillside. We were there on a beautiful sunny day and the view was spectacular.
The memorial is difficult for those with mobility issues as there are 100 steps leading up to the top.
We didn’t have an exact address for the memorial, just the skeleton details in the brochure I had downloaded from the Champagne-Ardenne tourist website. But Dormans isn’t a big town and from several kilometers away we began to see signs for the memorial so we simply followed the signs.
As we drove up towards the memorial, the road ended at a gate to the Parc du Chateau, with Dormans Castle (the Chateau) beyond the gate. We simply followed the signs through the gate (the Chateau doubles as the Tourist Information Office) and continued to follow the signs to the back of the Chateau and up the hill towards the memorial. You really can’t miss it once you are on this little road. There is plenty of free parking in front.