Agincourt and Crécy, two of the bloodiest Anglo-French battles of the Middle Ages, took place near the attractive little town of HESDIN on the River Canche (a town that will be familiar to Simenon fans from the TV series Inspector Maigret). Getting to either site is really only feasible with your own transport.
Twenty kilometres southwest of Hesdin, at the Battle of Crécy, Edward III inflicted the first of his many defeats of the French in 1346. This was the first appearance on the continent of the new English weapon, the six-foot longbow, and the first use in European history of gunpowder. There's not a lot to see today: just the Moulin Édouard III (now a watchtower), 1km northeast of the little town of Crécy-en-Ponthieu on the D111 to Wadicourt, site of the windmill from which Edward watched the hurly-burly of battle. Further south, on the D56 to Fontaine, the battered croix de Bohème marks the place where King John of Bohemia fighting for the French died, having insisted on leading his men into the fight, in spite of his blindness.
Ten thousand more died in the heaviest defeat ever of France's feudal knighthood at the Battle of Agincourt on October 25, 1415. Forced by muddy conditions to fight on foot in their heavy armour, the French, though more than three times as strong in number, were sitting ducks to the lighter, mobile English archers. The rout took place near present-day AZINCOURT, about 12km northeast of Hesdin off the D928, and a museum in the village (daily: AprilOct 9am6pm; NovMarch 10am5pm; €1.50) includes a short film about the battle. On the battle site itself notice boards are placed at strategic points to indicate the sequence of fighting. Just east of the village, by the crossroads of the D104 and the road to Maisoncelle, a cross marks the position of the original grave pits.