We first visited St-Mihiel via a cycle ride on the canal. It was only 4 km from our gite in Koeur la Grande in the Lorraine Region of France and a peaceful ride even though the skies threatened rain all day.
Upon arriving in town, we were fortunate to catch a boules tournament (also known as pétanque) in full swing so we stopped and watched for a bit… The object is to throw your ball so that it lands closer to the target ball (cochonnet ) than that of your opponent’s. The boules are steel balls weighing slightly over 1.5 pounds and the cochonnet is a smaller ball made of beechwood. You can find more information at the US Petanque Association.
The boules game was being played behind the abbey that we were looking for. This Benedictine abbey dates from 709 but the main tourist draw is Ligier Richier’s two sculptures in the abbey church.
There is so much to see in this area that one of the things left unseen on this visit was the American Cemetery and Memorial. The St-Mihiel Offensive was the first time the Americans had launched an attack on their own. 4153 American men are buried in this cemetery.