The Notre Dame de Lorette (Ablain St.-Nazaire French Military Cemetery) is the largest French military cemetery in France. It wasn’t really on my initial plan to visit, but given its location between Vimy and Arras it made for a good stop. Before stopping I hadn’t even heard of the battle of Artois, which says a lot about the futility of the battle.
There are two things that make this cemetery unique. First, there are always four volunteers on staff to greet visitors and assure that there is always someone available for the families. Two stand at the entrance to the church and two stand at the entrance to the ossuary. At first I thought they were there to keep people out, but when they saw us looking at the church they waved us over. They were friendly and mentioned something about the cold. They were quite surprised to hear we were from the United States. I don’t think many Americans pass through there. I didn’t take as many photos as I might have because I wasn’t sure if it was allowed in the church.
The other thing, something I’ve never seen, is there was a restaurant on site. It was full of people and served a good menu of the day. The volunteers ate their lunch their too with a good glass of wine.