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Location - Western Europe; Capital - Paris; Population - 65 million; Currency - Euro MORE FRANCE

I headed to the Somme in northern France with my Mum to pay respects to family members who lost their lives in World War I - September 2013.


euroA 10 Euro note










france515The Place des Heros is a lovely square in the centre of Arras


france518Place des Heros, or Petite Place, is surrounded by gabled buildings - Arras


france511Most of the buildings in Place des Heros were reconstructed following WWI damage - Arras














france495The Town Hall looks fantastic at night - Arras















france500It's the perfect place to enjoy a busy evening atmosphere - Arras


france503Relaxing above Place des Heros - Arras


france512Sunset falls on Petite Place - Arras















france504 In the Town Hall entrance are Colas, Jacqueline and son Dédé.
Les géants, or festival giants, come out to play at carnival time - Arras















france507Tunnels lie beneath Place des Heros. Known as les boves or 'les souterrains' they were originally used as cellars for storage. In WWI they became a rallying point for troops, and as shelter during WWII - Arras



france522Climb the Hall's belfry to admire views of Petite Place, Grand Place and the rest of Arras



france520The sandstone frontages on Place des Heros - Arras













france519The rather bulky Arras Cathedral - Arras













france478Inside the cathedral. The complex is also home to the Abbey of St Vaast - Arras


france476Walk downhill from the cathedral to Jardin Minelle - Arras


france460 Market stalls are on display on Rue de la Taillerie, linking Grand Place to Petite Place - Arras















france469The Grand Place colonnade - Arras















france467Like the Petite Place, the buildings of the Grand Place were restored after suffering in World War I - Arras


france481The main shopping streets of Arras are a couple of blocks south of the squares - Arras


france519a St Jean Baptiste church is just off Petite Place - Arras


















france493The entrance to the 17th century citadel. It was used as a military garrison until 2009 - Arras














france485The Arras Memorial stands behind the Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery. The Commonwealth section of the cemetery contains over 2,600 soldiers from Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries who died in WWI - Arras


france484The Arras Memorial commemorates around 35,000 WWI soldiers who died in the Arras region with no known grave - Arras


france536Carriere Welllington (Wellington Quarry) played a huge part in the Battle of Arras in World War I.
In 1917 allied troops used the tunnels beneath the city to surround the Germans and launch a surprise offensive - Arras













france526With a huge amount of help from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission we managed to locate the whereabouts of two of my Great Uncles who died in northern France during World War I - Wancourt


france530My Mum performs a traditional ceremony of sprinkling soil from the motherland on my Great Uncle's grave. He died during a WWI battle close by at Bullecourt in 1918 - Wancourt



france538A park opposite the bus stop at Doullens (between Arras and Amiens), the nearest town to Hem Hardinval














france542After a bit of a taxi ride and a few requests for directions we nailed down the location of my other Great Uncle's grave. He died on the Somme in a more remote location at Hem Hardinval


france544It was pleasing to be the first family members to pay respects to our war dead, nearly 100 years since they sacrificed their lives on foreign soil - Hem Hardinval


france545Remember 'Around the World in Eighty Days' or '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea'? A statue in honour of French novelist Jules Verne - Amiens













france548Jules Verne wrote several books while based in this house in Amiens, now a museum of his life



















france551A memorial to the role the French colonies played in the wars - Amiens


france549The approach to the huge Notre Dame Cathedral - Amiens



france559Construction of the largest Gothic cathedral in France began in the 13th century - Amiens














france558Superb carvings adorn the cathedral exterior - Amiens















france562Legend says this is the skull of St John the Baptist, housed in the cathedral. He must have at least two heads as he's also in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria - Amiens



france560The interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral - Amiens



france564I missed the chance to check out the River Somme but its waters are channelled to feed the vast market gardens surrounding Amiens













france569The Grand Place, or Place du General de Gaulle, has several places for al fresco dining - Lille


france566It's a place to people watch and see the world go by - Lille


france576The Grand Place and Place du Theatre have several fine looking, opulent buildings - Lille














france570The 17th century houses of Vieille Bourse link Grand Place with Place du Theatre - Lille















france571The early 20th century Opera House stands (left) on the Place du Theatre - Lille


france577The nearby streets are chock-a-block with fancy designer shops and boutiques - Lille



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