French train horses resting in a river on their way to Verdun. Pic: National Geographic Magazine/Wikimedia Commons
During World War One 9 villages were wiped out during the Battle of Verdun and thousands of French and German soldiers perished.

The Battle of Verdun was one of the fiercest artillery battles of the war and raged for around 300 days 1916. Troops used giant guns to rain a barrage of shells over the area. 

The shells contaminated the earth so badly with lead, arsenic and lethal poison gas, that after the war France did not rebuild the villages. 

Over the last 100 years, only one of the destroyed villages has been reconstructed and two have been partially rebuilt, but the remaining 6, including Fleury-devant-Douaumont, are uninhabited.  Until t oday, nothing remains of Fleury- devant -Douaumont except for ruins of the foundations of a few buildings. After the war ended in 1918, the French government deemed 1,200 sq km of non-contiguous land near Verdun too dangerous to inhabit. 

Besides the villages, a few museums and memorials have been erected to memorialise the soldiers who lost their lives.

A small private museum, Romagne ‘14-‘18, tells the personal stories behind a large collection of war memorabilia. South of Fleury-devant -Douaumont, the Mémorial de Verdun offers exhibits that give visitors an overview of the war.

The Douaumont National Necropolis and Ossuary contains the remains of about 130,000 French and German soldiers. A cemetery contains more than 15,000 white headstones.

Read more about this on BBC