Dieppe 80th Anniversary
Canadian Battlefield Tour
Special Remembrance Gathering in Dieppe, plus visits to Normandy & Vimy Ridge
Dieppe 80th Anniversary Canadian Battlefield Tour
Special Remembrance Gathering in Dieppe, plus visits to Normandy & Vimy Ridge
At a glance
August 13-22, 2022 • France & Belgium • 10 days
Paris • Bayeux • Dieppe • Ieper
Juno Beach • Gold Beach • Arromanches • Ardennes Abbey • Vimy Ridge • Passchendaele • Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate, Ypres • and most especially, 80th Anniversary commemoration events in Dieppe, France • scroll down to see complete details
Saturday August 13
Departure from Canada for our overnight transatlantic flight to Paris, except for those who may choose to leave for Paris sooner to extend their trip.
Travelers on the optional group flight will enjoy the luxury of gathering at a premium departure lounge prior to boarding.
Sunday August 14
Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport we will proceed to downtown Paris to drop baggage at the hotel. You are then free to explore at your leisure - there is so much to see including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs-Élysées, Pere Lachaise, Les Jardins du Luxembourg, the list goes on!
In the early evening we gather for our Welcome Dinner in the heart of Paris, to share a glass of wine and set the stage for our special journey. Overnight Paris - Novotel Tour Eiffel. [D]
Monday August 15
This morning we depart for the Normandy coast, to visit sites from D-Day of June 1944. We will walk the sands of Juno Beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer, with story telling and much reflection. A visit inside the Juno Beach Centre is included, along with a tour of the German command bunker hidden below the sand dunes.
We also visit Juno at Bernières-sur-Mer and the famous Canada House, along with the nearby defenses. This home is one of the most iconic of all sites in Normandy.
In the afternoon we visit the hallowed grounds of Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the burial place of 2,044 Canadians who fell in the early hours of D-Day and the subsequent liberation of Normandy. Overnight Bayeux - The Churchill. [B,L]
Tuesday August 16
Our first visit is the very interesting German coastal gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer, a position of four large naval guns which posed a serious threat to Allied ships off-shore and the landing beaches themselves.
A short drive west takes us to the heart of the British landing zone code named Gold Beach. This area was selected as one of two sites to construct the man-made Mulberry Harbour where ships could off-load the massive supplies needed for the invasion force. The view from the cliffs above reveals remnants of the harbour just off-shore. We then walk down into Arromanches, a lovely coastal tourist village, to visit the Musée du Débarquement which wonderfully illustrates how the harbours were designed.
The afternoon allows you time to explore the local village of Bayeux. You may wish to consider taking in the 1,000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry which depicts events leading to William the Conqueror's invasion of England, or perhaps peek inside the enormous cathedral. Bayeux is also a wonderful location for photography, the town having been mostly spared the destructive fighting of the war. Overnight Bayeux - The Churchill. [B,L]
Wednesday August 17
After a relaxed morning in the local village of Bayeux it's time to depart and begin our journey northbound. But first, we pause for a solemn visit at Ardennes Abbey near Caen. It was here that 20 Canadian soldiers were illegally executed in the early days following D-Day. It is an important Canadian pilgrimage, and we pay our respects to the young men in the garden of remembrance.
We then say goodbye to Lower Normandy and continuing our journey northeast along the channel coast. Time is reserved in the evening for special gatherings as may be organized by our local contacts. Overnight Dieppe - Mercure la Présidence. [B,L]
Thursday August 18
Today we will visit all three of the Canadian landing zones of Operation Jubilee - the plans, the execution and the after-math of the August 1942 raid that went so horribly wrong. We begin in the garden at the foot of the citadel, then walk along the main beach in Dieppe to gain a sense of the overall raid, with time at the various monuments to the regiments who landed here. Captain John Weir Foote, a chaplain, would be awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts here.
Next, we stroll down to the sea wall at Puys where so many young men of the Royal Regiment of Canada fell heroically in battle. This spot, on this day, is arguably Canada's darkest day of World War II.
And finally, we visit Pourville where even more brave actions took place. Lieutenant Colonel Cecil Merritt, commanding officer of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, would earn the Victoria Cross at the spot now known as Merritt's Bridge.
We conclude the visit of the battlefields with a view of Dieppe from the coastal cliffs high above the beach.
In the evening we will make our way to the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, tucked away up the hill, to attend a special candlelight Vigil (tbc). Overnight Dieppe - Mercure la Présidence. [B,L]
Friday August 19
Our calendar for today is kept clear and flexible, to allow for participation in commemorative events for the 80th Anniversary of the Raid on Dieppe as may be organized by Veterans Affairs Canada and local officials. Information will be posted as details are announced. Overnight Dieppe - Mercure la Présidence. [B,L]
For additional context, Listen here to CBC's Robert Bowman and his broadcast from Dieppe the day after the raid.
Saturday August 20
We are back on the road this morning, heading inland and back in time to World War 1 for a special visit to Vimy Ridge. We will take a guided tour of the underground tunnels which reveal how soldiers lived and prepared for battle beneath the earth. We also walk the above-ground trenches for a first-hand feel of trench warfare. Ample time is then given to be at, on and around the Vimy Monument, arguably the most impressive of all the war monuments in Europe.
A short distance down the ridge takes us into Souchez for quick stops at points of interest, along with a delicious lunch with wine at a well-known establishment filled with charm.
We then say au revoir to France and drive north across the border into Belgium, to the enchanting small town of Ieper (Ypres) in the province of Flanders. At 8pm the Last Post Ceremony will take place at the Menin Gate, as it has every evening since 1928. Overnight Ieper - Novotel Centrum Flanders Fields. [B,L]
Sunday August 21
Ieper (Ypres) was the center of fierce, prolonged, bloody fighting in World War I and the remnants of this are all around. This morning we'll tour the Ypres Salient, passing Hellfire Corner on our way to our first stop - the monument at Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood).
Our morning includes The Brooding Soldier at St. Julien, a favourite monument for many. We will visit Essex Farm ... it is here, in the province of West Flanders, that Canadian LtCol John McCrae penned his famous poem In Flanders Fields. We also visit the monument to the Battle of Passchendaele at Crest Farm, and nearby Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the world. Travelers will have the option of taking a peaceful 30-min stroll along the quiet country lanes right in the heart of the Passchendaele battlefields.
We return to Ieper for our Farewell Lunch, following which you have free time to explore this wonderful medieval town. The Last Post Ceremony takes place again at 8pm. Overnight Ieper - Novotel Centrum Flanders Fields. [B,L]
Monday August 22
For those who are heading home, it's departure day via Brussels Airport, while others remain behind for pre-booked extended days. Buffet or box breakfast for those flying out, depending on the departure time from the hotel.