Paris – Remis – Verdun – Cambrai – Mons – Arras – Vimy Beamont Hamel – Ypres – Passchendaele – Calais Wimereux – Dieppe – Pourville – Honfleur – Caen – Bernierssur-Mer – Courseulles-Sur-Mer – Falaise – Ardenne – Paris
May 28 – June 11, 2019 (15 days)
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the WWI battlefields of Northwest Europe
Departure for Europe.
After arrival in Paris, we travel a little east toward the Belgian border to Reims, where we check in and have dinner.
This morning we drive to Verdun, site of WWI’s lengthiest battle, yielding 700,000 casualties. We will visit the museum, Fort Douaumont and the trench of the Bayonets. Returning to Reims, we will visit the Museum of the Surrender, where the Third Reich surrendered unconditionally at 02:41 May 7, acknowledged then officially at 15:00 in the capital cities of the Allied Nations. Following that there is time to visit the Cathedral, with its notable Marc Chagall stained glass windows.
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims © Carmen Moya, OT Grand Reims
Today we follow “Canada’s Last Hundred Days”, during which the four oversized divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force met and engaged 64 German divisions, between August 8 in Amiens, France and November 11 at Mons, Belgium. We’ll visit the cemetery where Private Price is buried, the last Canadian to die in WWI, before spending some time in Mons, where British forces first engaged the Germans in 1914. We end our day in Arras.
World War I, Arras
Today we visit Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, Canada’s largest war memorial, at nearby Lens. Continuing on to Beaumont Hamel, we'll visit the Canadian Memorial Park and Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. We'll stop by the Visitor Centre before returning to spend time in Arras.
This morning we have time to enjoy Arras and an early lunch before we depart for Ypres. There we will visit Sanctuary Wood Cemetery and John McCrae’s field station before heading to town to check into our hotel. We'll participate in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate this evening.
Menin Gate, Ypres © Tijl Capoen, City of Ypres
We start today with a visit to the Passchendaele Museum, a great introduction to the war that engulfed the area for so many years. Then we will explore the battle-scarred surroundings of Ypres, site of WWI’s first gas attacks. You cannot turn your head in the Ypres area without seeing a war cemetery somewhere on the horizon. We will visit the vast 45,000-grave Tyne Cot Cemetery near Passchendaele as well as the German cemetery at Langemark with 44,000 graves, and the St. Julien Canadian Monument with Vancouver Corner before returning finally to Ypres.
Tyne Cot Cemetery - Courtesy of Passchendaele Museum
We visit a section of the Atlantic Wall, stopping at Calais to visit the Canadian Cemetery and the gun emplacements at Cap Gris Nez before proceeding to Wimereux, just outside Boulogne to visit John McCrae’s grave in the local cemetery. Continuing south along the coast we'll stop at Le Puys, where the Royal Regiment of Canada met a German convoy in one of the first assaults on Dieppe. Just on the north side of Dieppe, we will visit the small but meaningful museum dedicated to the ill-fated Canadian raid of August 19, 1942.
Site John McCrae, Essex Farm Cemetery © Tijl Capoen, City of Ypres
Today we take a close look at the town and surroundings of Dieppe, which hold so many sad memories for Canadians. We will visit the Cemetery, the Memorial at Pourville which marks the losses of the South Saskatchewan Regiment and Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, and then stop in Honfleur for lunch before continuing on to the Caen area.
Old Port, Honfleur © Franck Charel, Atout France
Today is dedicated to the D-Day Commemoration, and so the official program will determine our availability for other short visits and explorations in the area around Courseulles and Bernieres.
We will drive to Verrieres Ridge before our visiting the Cemetery at Cintheaux/Bretteville-sur-Mer. Driving down the Falaise Gap to Falaise, the town of William the Conqueror. Then at Mount Ormel we will stop at the monument dedicated to a Polish unit and the small museum nearby which explains the battle. After time for lunch there, we will begin our return journey to the Caen area via Trun and St. Lambert-sur-Dives where Major Currie earned the Victoria Cross. We will visit Ardenne Abbey before returning to our hotel.
L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes, Caen © CDT Calvados, Atout France
This morning we visit the impressive Caen Memorial Museum, the greatest museum in Normandy. Then we will visit the Canadian Landing beaches at Bernieres-sur-Mer (Canada House) and Courseulles-sur-Mer before driving along the Landing Zones towards Arromanches where parts of the Mulberry Harbour are still evident.
Early morning on D-Day Landing Beaches, Normandy - Painting
We will take part in the official ceremonies at either Beny-sur-Mer or Bretteville/Cintheaux, depending on when they are scheduled.
We spend this morning in Normandy and visit the Canadian Juno Beach Memorial. We leave for Paris after lunch, check in and have dinner there.
Juno Beach Centre
Today we will enjoy a City Tour of the fabled City of Lights as well as a short cruise on the Seine River. Then there is a bit of time at leisure to relax, get organized, or visit the city's sights and museums, such as the War Museum or Louvre.
Paris rooftops © Amelie Dupont, Paris Tourist Office
Transfer to the airport for our flight home or you can choose to extend your stay in Paris.