The first Australian soldiers to arrive in France came to Naours as tourists in July 1916, and many of them left their mark with graffiti on the walls of the Underground City.
The Underground City of Naours is home to around 3 000 examples of graffiti (finds to date) drawn by First World War soldiers: 1 800 are believed to be by Australian soldiers, others by English, Irish, Scottish, American and French soldiers. More than 600 are still to be identified. It is the largest concentration of WW1 inscriptions on the Western Front. During the Great War, the underground cave network was used as an organized tour destination, a means of distraction for soldiers on leave or convalescent behind the front lines.
Visit these immense underground galleries dug into the limestone of the Picardy plateau. The site’s remarkable layout has been recognized as one of the largest networks of tunnels of Northern France. Initially quarries that were used to shelter local inhabitants from XVII century, they have lasted through time and now reveal their history to visitors.
At the end of your visit, learn about the history of the region and the former crafts of the Picardy people in the museum, and then take a stroll through the 24 acre wooded park.
The 2nd half of 2019 will see the opening of the brand-new Graffiti Museum in Naours. A 100 m² exhibition where both the life-stories of soldiers who visited the caves and the leisure activities they engaged in behind the lines are related in English and French. An interactive digital display will be available, opening the database for visitors to search the 3 000 examples of graffiti and the soldiers’ biographies. The Graffiti Museum offers an opportunity to take a unique look at the soldiers’ lives: from their homes to the French front line, following the footsteps of ordinary men who came to die on foreign soil during the First World War.
Ready to explore this ancient subterranean city by means of a flashlight!
Visit the Museum with any cave tour (audio-guided or guided). Caves are best visited with a guide, some graffiti are hard to find. From Vignacourt, Naours is 10 minutes away by car. For more information visit our website