Just southwest of Lille is the historic farming town of Vimy, a popular day trip destination from Paris among history buffs and the site of aggressive fighting during World War I. The town’s definitive Battle of Vimy Ridge, fought between Canadian and German troops in 1917, resulted in a Canadian victory that proved essential in the advancement of British forces.
Even so, this led to more than 10,000 Canadian casualties, and the Canadian National Viny Memorial has since been instated on a 250-acre portion of the former battleground to honor those lost. In 1922, France granted the land for the memorial, and in 1936, it opened for all to come and pay respects.
Although a portion of the site is still off limits to the public due to dangerous wartime trenches and craters, the twin statuary, which have the names of all who fought in the battle inscribed on the stone foundation surrounding them, can be seen from miles away. The memorial cemetery serves as the final resting for most of the 3,598 soldiers who gave their lives in the fight.
Vimy is located at the junction of the D51 and the N17 roads. It is on the crest of Vimy Ridge, which overlooks the Artois region. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Mondays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. In December and January, it is open only by appointment. Guided tours of the battlefield and its underground tunnels are available.