France, Belgium

Witness the major WW1 battlefields of Flanders and France on this ideal introductory battlefield tour visiting Ypres, The Somme and Menin Gate.

Itinerary

Day 1
Local departure by coach, then to our hotel in Belgium or northern France for a four-night stay.

Day 2 Ypres & Passchendaele

The tour starts in Flanders around the Belgian city of Ypres. Here, one in three of Britain’s Western Front dead fell by 1918 and it has been a place of pilgrimage ever since. We begin by looking at the commemoration of Britain’s dead at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest British war cemetery in the world, taking time to also see the visitors’ centre. At Vancouver Corner we examine the use of gas in the trenches and see the moving ‘Brooding Soldier’ Memorial to the Canadians who defended Ypres in 1915 and at Langemarck German Cemetery we see how Germany commemorated her dead and look at the story of ‘Fritz’ on the other side of No Man’s Land. After lunch at Hooge, we visit the preserved trenches at Sanctuary Wood Trench Museum, some of the last original WW1 trenches still surviving in Flanders together with an amazing collection of relics and stereoscopic photos. We then travel down the Messines Ridge to Ploegsteert to see the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing. Our day ends in Ypres where we attend the moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial, held at 8pm each evening. Breakfast


Day 3 Arras & Vimy Ridge

We spend today in northern France visiting the ‘Forgotten Front’ between Flanders and the Somme. Starting on the Loos Battlefield, the scene of the first major British offensive of WW1, we see where the fighting took place and also the Loos Memorial and Dud Corner Cemetery.

We then visit the new Lens 14-18 Museum which explains the rich history of this region. After lunch in Arras we look at life beneath the Western Front in the Wellington Quarries, going underground to see where thousands sheltered on the eve of battle.

At the Arras Memorial we pay our respects to the Missing and see the Air Services Memorial to those who died above the battlefields in WW1 and end our day with a visit to the stunning Vimy Ridge Memorial at Hill 145 to examine the attach by Canadian forces here in April 1917.

Breakfast


Day 4 The Somme

The Battle of the Somme began on a summer’s day in July 1916 and ended in a snowstorm four and a half months later. It was a battle of contrasts from the blackest day when 57,000 became casualties to the first use of tanks and the change in approach to fighting on the Western Front. We look at all these stories and start our tour at Peronne where we visit the excellent Historial de la Grande Guerre museum which helps to put into context not just our Somme day, but the whole tour. We then see the Lochnagar Mine Crater at La Boisselle, the largest British mine crater surviving on the battlefields. After lunch we see the trenches in the Newfoundland Park and then take time to visit the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing and see the new Somme Museum here. Breakfast


Day 5
Return home. Breakfast

Accommodation

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>Executive

coach departures will stay for three or four nights at the 4-star Horizon Ath-Lessines, near Ghislenghien, or similar. The hotel has a bar and lift.

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> Silver Service and Luxuria

departures will stay for three or four nights at the 4-star Hotel Alize in Mouscron. The hotel does not have a restaurant, but snacks are available from the bar. There are also a number of restaurants and bars nearby. The hotel has a lift.

On all departures, when demand is high other hotels of a similar 3 and 4-star standard may be used, such as the 3-star Hotel Des Acacias Lille Tourcoing in Neuville-en-Ferrain, 4-star Hotel Horizon Ath Lessines and the 4-star Mercure Lille Airport.

<

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> 3-star Novotel Ypres Centrum

On selected dates you can choose to stay in central Ypres, just a few hundred yards from the Menin Gate at the 3-star Novotel Ypres Centrum. The hotel has a lift, bar and restaurant.

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