Commemorating the Australian New Zealand Army Corps who came together to aid the British Empire during World War I, ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the war. It originally commemorated the landing of forces at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915 – which would ultimately prove a bloody failure – but ANZAC Day has grown to become an important Australian day of remembrance around the world.
Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before ANZAC Day, as you’ll depart Paris in the early hours to make it to the dawn service in Villers-Bretonneux, located about 2 hours north. When you arrive, you'll attend the 6am ANZAC Day Dawn Service, which honors the sacrifice of the Australians and New Zealanders during the war.
This moving service is a major part of the tradition of ANZAC Day, dating back to the military practice of 'standing to' at dawn, the most favorable time for attack. The ANZAC legend was poignantly put into words by Sir William Deane, Governor-General of Australia: "Anzac is not merely about loss. It is about courage, and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humor and the survival of a sense of self-worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds.”
After the dawn service, you’ll spend the rest of the day on a guided tour of the surrounding Somme area, a part of France that suffered severely in the violent and bloody battles of WWI. Visit Somme's many battlefields, memorials, cemeteries and landmarks while hearing vivid stories and learning about the successes and failures of WWI from your guide.
Visit the massive Lochnagar Crater in the village of La Boiselle, followed by the site of the Battle of Pozières and the site of the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin. Next, visit the Thiepval Memorial, browse historical collections at the Franco-Australian Museum, and pay your dues at the Adelaide Cemetery.
At the end of your ANZAC Day tour, hop back in the minivan or coach and return to Paris around 3:30pm.