Reflect on the centennial of the Great War with this emotionally stirring, 4-day tour. Travel by air-conditioned coach from Paris to a carefully curated selection of battlefields, cemeteries, memorials and museums in northern France and Belgium. Learn about the pivotal role these sites played in determining the course of world politics, and place the staggering statistics of World War I into human and geographic context. An expert historian guide will accompany you to all sites and illuminate the facts and stories of this dark chapter in human history.
Departing from Paris, travel to Flanders Fields in Belgium and witness the nightly Last Post memorial ceremony in Ypres. Spend the night in Lille, France, and continue on in the morning to the battlefields and landmarks of northern France, including Fromelles and Amiens.
In the now-tranquil region of Somme, travel along the Circuit of Remembrance to see crucial battlefields, trenches, and the massive Lochnagar Crater. Learn about the contributions of Canadian, South African, New Zealand and Australian troops at several different memorials and the Franco-Australian Museum.
Honor fallen soldiers at the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, and walk on the hallowed ground of battlefields at Le Hamel and Perrone before returning to Paris.
See Itinerary below for complete tour description.
Day 1: Paris – Lille
Leave central Paris and travel by air-conditioned coach to Flanders Fields in Belgium as your guide gives you historical background on the locations you will visit. See important Ypres Salient Battlefields including Hill 60, Polygon Wood and the site that today is occupied by Tyne Cot Cemetery. The tragic toll of war becomes apparent as you walk among the seemingly endless rows of white grave markers.
After some free time in the town of Ypres to have dinner (own expense), meet your guide for an included welcome drink. Then attend the nightly Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate in Ypres that honors those who died defending the town. Make your way to your hotel for the night in Lille, France.
Overnight: Mercure Lille Centre Grand Place Hotel
Day 2: Lille – Amiens (B)
Enjoy breakfast in your hotel and then cross into northern France to the Fromelles Military Cemetery, where Australian and British soldiers who perished in the 1916 Battle of Fromelles are buried. Your next stop is the Canadian National Memorial at Vimy Ridge, a towering and distinctive monument to Canadian forces lost during the war. Take a guided tour of the museum and the nearby trenches to learn about Canada's involvement in the Great War.
Continue to Amiens, site of the 1918 Battle of Amiens, which led to the end of the war. During your free time, have dinner in a local restaurant (own expense) and perhaps visit Amiens Cathedral, a gorgeous 13th-century Gothic cathedral that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Settle in for the night at your hotel in Amiens.
Overnight: Mercure Amiens Cathedrale Hotel
Day 3: Amiens (B)
After breakfast this morning, travel along the Circuit of Remembrance, which passes through pivotal battlefields of the Somme -- an area of northern France that today seems serene. Marvel at the huge Lochnagar Crater, left by a tremendous explosion right before the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Soldiers packed mining tunnels with explosives to create the massive blast, which killed many German troops and resulted in a 300-foot (91-meter) wide hole. Imagine how the ground erupted long ago at this site, creating one of the loudest man-made sounds in recorded history.
You will also see the South African and New Zealand Memorials at Longueval and the Franco British Memorial at Thievpal dedicated to thousands of missing soldiers. Make a stop for lunch (own expense) in Albert, where you will see the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebiéres, which was once topped with a golden statue of Mary and baby Jesus that was the subject of many legends during the war.
Stop at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and museum on your way back to Amiens, where you'll have the afternoon to spend at leisure. Walk around the historic Saint-Leu district or do some shopping before having dinner (own expense) and settling in for the night.
Overnight: Mercure Amiens Cathedrale Hotel
Day 4: Amiens – Paris (B)
Following breakfast, head to Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and see the Australian National Memorial, which is of great significance to the village in which it stands. In 1919, the Australian troops drove out enemy forces who were ten times their number, and the people of Villers-Bretonneux continue to express their gratitude to the Australians today. Stop by the town’s Franco-Australian Museum in the Victoria School to learn more about the role of Australian forces during the war, particularly on the Western Front in 1918.
See more battlefields at Le Hamel and Peronne before returning by coach to Paris. Your 4-day tour of crucial World War I battlefields ends at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport at approximately 5pm and either the Meridien Etoile Paris (Monday) or Marriott Rive Gauche (Wednesday) at approximately 6pm. These times are approximate and therefore if you are taking a flight immediately after the tour, we advise booking it for after 7pm.