Wednesday 22 May 2019

Waterloo Battlefield Tour

 The first step for getting to the battlefield from brussels is going to the gare the midi, the metro can take you there easily as it's at a line crossing. Then you must exit the station by the north gates, you'll see a big tower in front of you, go to the right under the railway bridge. Flanking the station in front of you is l'Avenue Fonsny, in its left side you'll find the buss top for lines "W" and "365" both of which go to Waterloo. More info at this link.
 The bus takes a while to get there (half an hour or so) mind that it was Saturday. I picked the W line and on route you can see some out of the way sights such as the city's medieval south gate
 There are two battle related stops, the first at Waterloo Eglise leaves you at the museum in the center of the city, the second is Route de Nivelles (above) which will leave you on the battlefield itself.
The return stop is just on the other side. The bus takes rougly an hour from gare du midi to the battlefield, you can get a day ticket for 10 eur, or just two for slightly less.
 We're there!
 The lion's mound with the panorama to the left

 As it was saturday 18 of May there were some reenactors on site, here we see the Duke with some scottish infantry
 Horse artillery too

 There were some regular line in the back

 Plus some belgians tropping around
 The panorama has a lower level with period materiel and displays
 Such as this one of Hugoumont
 Quatre Bras & Ligny
 Movements prior to the battle
 The deployments
 The panorama itself depicts the french charge against the allied squares
The Moscow panorama doesn't have sound effects but is way bigger
 Ney & co
 French columns in the background
 Red lancers charging into te teeth of enemy fire
 Cuirassiers with la Haye Sainte in the back

  Square of nassauers
 Scottish and english squares
 Wellington and his staff chilling inside a square
 Horse artillery under attack (Mercer's?)
 After the panorama there is a nice little climb to the mound
 Farm of la Haye Sainte
 Road along the allied ridge (Hugoumont is behind the forest to the left)
 French ambulance
 It was quite a climb!
 French reenactors

 Then I went to Hugoumont by the ridge path, those forests would make any retreat difficult to say the least!

 Last position of captain Mercer

 The french attacked along this plain, not much cover to be had!

 There is a service of horsebus if you don't want to walk
 Le corbeau

 The brits defended this gate against Jerome's men

 There is a chapel with plastic poppy wreaths
 British camp

 Items found on the site
 Closing the gates on war? not quite

 Looks familiar?

 The memorial tour ends there but I wanted a bit more, so I went crossfield  to La Belle Alliance, it's the old looking building in diagonal from Hugoumont and following the road from the mound, the long line of an isosceles triangle if you will.
 The walk crossfield makes you feel a bit foolishly like an actual soldier marching through the battle
 Keep your eyes peeled for souvenirs such as shards of rib, they may be from animals carcasses used to fertilize the fields, but you never know
 La belle Alliance was the center of the french positions
 Part of it is for sale should you want the game room of a lifetime!
 Following the road south there are some monuments
 Like l'aigle blessé
 Then I went further south to try to get to Napoleon's headquarter at le Caillou. Don't do that unless you've got a bike or a car, it's as far as the center of Waterloo. After catching a glimpse of Pancenoit above I turned back
 Boy, was the memorial far by this point!
 A wedding
 Walking the road north towards La Haye Sainte you'll see Papelotte to the right
 The farm can't be visited and the walk there is quite dangerous, with there being no sidewalk and lots of cars coming up, so it's only for the most fanatic. Alternatively you can leave you car/bike around.
 The ferme it's fermée so no visiting here, there are some placards though

 Then I went kept on following the road north to return to the memorial, on the right you can see the hannoverian monument, and the one dedicated to the belgians further back

 This pic turned out great!
 Monument to Napoleon next to the museum's brasserie
 Don't ask why but I actually visited the museum after doing the whole tour
 Napoleon and his pawns
 There is an avenue filled with uniforms and wax models
 Grenadier & Ligne
 95th rifles
 Grand Quartier Géneral
 Muskets and baker rifles
 Pewter models of camping scenes

The prince of Orange
 Creepy Blücher is creepy
 French coins found on a corpse
 The exhibition concludes with these famous drawings of the wounded

 Wellington's hnour sword
 Some militaria including cuirasses pierced by canister

 Post napoleonic Europe well in its way to WW1

 The exhibit concludes with a great 3D movie using both CGI and live actors. However it perpetuates some common errors such as the french cavalry charging due to the british retreating (it actually was some ammunition wagons and wounded) and the guard advancing in hollow squares (?)

 If you want even more Waterloo you can come down from the bus at the église stop, however if you're short on time don't do it as the bus takes forever to come
 The deliciously small Wellington museum is on the building where the Duke passed the night with the moribund colonel Gordon
 Ball at duchess of Richmond's
 Ball suits

 French gun
 Gordon's pharmacy

 Gordon is taken from the field
 More bakers

 Scots greys and pierced cuirass
 These sabers were way thicker than I expected
 A congreve rocket, not the pinnacle of aerodynamics certainly
 Post battle ruins

Civilian flags

 Deathbed of the emperor
 Cloak used by Wellington

 'ol nosey
 The Duke writes his report while Gordon breathes his last
 Times of the day, filled with lots of advertisements and an account of the battle

 Arthur in his late years
 Young Blücher and some of his pipes
 The fabulous Prince of Orange

 Dutch general
 Deathbed of Blücher
 The most curious item on display is Lord Uxbrige's prosthetic leg

 Amputating instruments
 The people of Brussels took good care of the wounded
 The dead are buried near la Haye Sainte
 And burned at Hugoumont
 Attack on the palais

 Scotland forever!
 Recreation of lady Butler's famous painting
 In front of the museum there is a church with lots of tombstones dedicated to dead officers

Ah, those romantics...

All in all a great trip, albeit the museum is a tad expensive (24eur.) the video is really enmeshing and  the place is well kept for. Compared to Borodino, Waterloo is an easier visit since its far closer to the city and you can see it all in a morning, there were reenactors too so that's a big plus for me, as I did some time in the local imperial roman group some years ago.


  1. Thanks for posting this!
    Nice set of pictures and the re-enactors look good.
    My partner and I did the same trip last year, on our return bus trip to Brussels we had the 'driver from hell'!

  2. Glad you liked the pics... and that I had a quiet trip back to Brussels