2024 Northwest Europe
Canadian Battlefield Tour
From the Normandy Shores OF France
to the Liberation of Holland
to the Liberation of Holland
2024 Northwest Europe Canadian Battlefield Tour
From the Normandy Shores of France to Belgium & the Liberation of Holland
the Fall Edition of our Signature Tour,
a perfect mix of WWI & WWII
At a glance
September 19 to October 3, 2024 • France, Belgium, Holland • 15 days
Paris • Bayeux • Dieppe • Amiens • Arras • Ieper • Vlissingen • Amsterdam
Juno Beach & The Battle of Normandy • The Royal Newfoundland Regiment & the Trail of the Caribou • All of Canada’s Original Great War Monuments including Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, St. Julien • The Thiepval Memorial • Tyne Cot Cemetery • The Menin Gate & the Last Post Ceremony • scroll down to see complete details
Wednesday September 18
For many of our Canadian travelers it is departure day, for the overnight transatlantic flight to France. Some travelers may choose to leave for Europe sooner to extend the start of the trip - let us know if we can quote you on pre-tour accommodations.
Guests who have other travels already in progress, or guests from other points of origin including the United Kingdom, the United States and elsewhere, will meet the start of the tour on Day 1 in Paris.
Thursday September 19
In the mid-afternoon all clients can check into the group hotel. In the meantime, luggage is stored in the hotel baggage lock-up. Today you have most of the day free to explore Paris, the City of Light. Sightseeing highlights include The Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay, the Arc de Triomphe, Jardins de Luxembourg, Père Lachaise Cemetery, the Eiffel Tower, shopping along the Champs-Élysées, and so much more!
In the late afternoon we gather in the heart of Paris for our Welcome Dinner, to share a glass and set the stage for our special journey. Overnight Paris - hotel tbc. [D]
Friday September 20
This morning we depart for the Normandy coast where we will consider pre-D-Day, looking at the 'Atlantic Wall' defenses facing the Allies in the coming invasion. We visit Pegasus Bridge and the Memorial Pegasus Museum where you will learn the story of the pre-dawn paratrooper landings in the region by the British 6th Airborne and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.
Free time is given to make a must-see visit to the first house liberated on D-Day, the Café Gondrée, a special place filled with history and charm. We then pause to enjoy lunch at leisure in Ouistreham, in the heart of the British sector known as Sword Beach.
Our final stop is Longues-sur-Mer, a German coastal artillery position of four large naval guns which posed a serious threat to Allied ships off-shore and the landing beaches themselves. We then make our way to our hotel for the first of three nights' stay, winding down in the hotel where we gather to chat about the day and raise a toast. Overnight Bayeux - hotel tbc. [B]
Saturday September 21
This morning we remember D-Day by walking the sands of Juno Beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer, with story telling and much reflection. A visit inside the Juno Beach Centre is featured, along with a tour of the underground German command bunker just out front.
We then walk along the shore to hear personal stories of the men who landed here.
After a pause for lunch in Courseulles we move east, to the Juno sector at St-Aubin-sur-Mer where a 50-mm German anti-tank gun still sits ominously in its casemate. From here we venture along the shore a short distance to Bernières-sur-Mer to observe the famous Canada House and the nearby defenses. Overnight Bayeux - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Sunday September 22
Day Four takes us to points west where we first explore 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.
Next up is the famous American landing sector code named Omaha Beach, depicted by the opening twenty minutes of the Steven Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan. Here the Americans suffered heavy losses, as illustrated by some time of reflection at the Colleville-sur-Mer American War Cemetery which serenely overlooks the Normandy shore below. We then take a break for lunch at a local restaurant just up the coast - situated on the hill with a view looking directly onto Omaha Beach.
We then move further west to Pointe-du-Hoc where the United States Army Rangers famously scaled 100' cliffs to secure the position. We close out the day with a short drive in-land to La Cambe German Cemetery and an opportunity to respectfully consider the losses of the other side. More than 21,000 German soldiers lie here, some having not even reached their eighteenth birthday. Overnight Bayeux - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Monday September 23
Two important places of reflection occupy our morning. First we walk the hallowed grounds of Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, the burial place of 2,044 Canadians who fell on D-Day and in the subsequent Battle of Normandy.
Next is a stop at Ardennes Abbey near Caen, an important Canadian pilgrimage to honour those soldiers who were illegally executed in the early days of June 1944.
We then say goodbye to Lower Normandy, stopping in historic Honfleur for lunch before continuing into the French countryside and going back in time to WWI. Overnight Dieppe - hotel tbc. [B]
Tuesday September 24
We begin the day with a morning stroll along the main beach of Dieppe to consider Operation Jubilee - the plans, the execution and the after-math of the August 1942 raid that went horribly wrong.
The raid entailed three Canadian attack zones and we next move northeast to the beach at Puys, arguably Canada's darkest hour of WW2, followed by a visit to Pourville to the southwest and Merritt's Bridge. We conclude the visit of the battlefields with a view of Dieppe from the coastal cliffs above, then head back into the center of town to pause for lunch - allowing time to explore the many restaurants which line the inner harbour.
Our final stop is the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, tucked away up the hill and beyond the edge of town which beckons Canadians to visit. Listen here to CBC's Robert Bowman and his broadcast from Dieppe the day after the raid. We then depart the coast and resume our journey into northern France as we move inland and back in time to World War 1. Overnight Amiens - hotel tba. [B]
Wednesday September 25
Day Seven is steeped in history as we wind our way into the French countryside to consider the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest, bloodiest and most destructive battles of World War One. You will be intrigued with a guided tour at Beaumont-Hamel - it is here that the Newfoundland Regiment was nearly wiped out in the first few hours of the attack. This proudly Canadian battleground is one of the best preserved sites in all of the western front.
Our lunch stop is in the midst of the Somme battlefield region, at a local high restaurant hidden from view offering an outstanding menu. Next is a visit to see the Thiepval Memorial, the largest Commonwealth War Graves monument in the world on which are inscribed the names of over 72,000 soldiers who fell during the Battle of the Somme and have no known grave (including one very special name).
The day includes a visit to the Lochnagar Crater, and the monument at Courcelette. As well, we visit the Caribou Monument at Gueudecourt as we begin the Trail of the Caribou. Overnight Arras - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Thursday September 26
Each Canadian ought to visit Vimy Ridge once in their lifetime and today is your day. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is arguably the most impressive of all the war monuments in Europe. We will take a guided tour of the 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.
We then pause for a delicious lunch at a well-known establishment filled with charm and surrounded by the history of WWI, then capture a few more points of interest in the area.
To conclude the day, we head to the Commonwealth War Graves' factory for an incredibly special guided tour - the CWGC Experience. This is the fascinating facility in Beaurains, France where the soldiers' headstones are carved, with meticulous reverence and care. Overnight Arras - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Friday September 27
Today we continue our exploration of the WW1 memorials in the French countryside, learning the importance of the battles involving in what has become known as 'Canada's 100 Days.' We encounter the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at Masnières and Monchy-le-Preux, and the Canadian Corps at Bourlon Wood and Dury. Once again, Canada will distinguish itself and individual acts of bravery will earn numerous Victoria Crosses.
We pause mid-day for a group lunch in historic Cambrai. The day also includes a very special guided tour of the Cambrai Tank 1917 Museum, where the remains of an extremely rare WW1 tank have been preserved in a new and modern exhibit - adjacent to the cemetery where most of its crew are laid to rest. Overnight Arras - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Saturday September 28
Our day begins with a drive north across the border into Belgium. In the morning we visit the new monument to Canadian George Lawrence Price ... the last soldier of the British Empire to die in The Great War ... which stands next to a bridge named in his honour and near to the place where he fell on November 11, 1918 at 10:58 am, two minutes before the armistice took effect.
After time for lunch in the beautiful city of Mons we visit St. Symphorien Cemetery, the burial location of the first (John Henry Parr, Britain) and last (George Lawrence Price, Canada) soldiers to die in WW1. Overnight Ieper - hotel tbc. [B]
Sunday September 29
Ieper (Ypres) was the center of fierce, prolonged, bloody fighting in World War I and the remnants of this are all around. We pass Hellfire Corner on our way to the monument at Hill 62 (Sanctuary Wood).
Our morning includes The Brooding Soldier at St. Julien, a favourite monument for many, which commemorates the Canadians who suffered the first gas attacks of the Great War in 1915. We will visit Essex Farm ... it is here, in the province of West Flanders, that Canadian LCol 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.
We return to Ieper for free time in the afternoon. The Last Post Ceremony takes place at the historic Menin Gate at 8pm, just as it has every evening since 1928. Selected travelers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of the tour group. Overnight Ieper - hotel tbc. [B]
Monday September 30
Our Monday morning will see us visit a number of interesting sites in the very southwest corner of the Netherlands and northern Belgium. We will look at the crossing of the Leopold Canal and the fight for the Breskens Pocket. This is the beginning of the Battle of the Scheldt, a costly battle for Canada and a crucial success story for the allied war effort.
We pause for lunch at the Canada-Poland Museum in Adegem, Belgium, to see their amazing one-of-a-kind collection followed by a group lunch in their historic hall.
We will visit monuments at Eede, as well as Hickman's Bridge and the Hoofdplaat monument. Each visit tells a part of the story of the Canadians and the fierce fighting that took place in this region, as the liberation of Holland began. Of particular interest will be a walk to an original Bailey Bridge, constructed by the Engineers in 1944 and still in use today! Overnight Vlissingen - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Tuesday October 1
We continue our journey through the Scheldt region today, with a visit to the Walcheren monument to hear about the battle for the causeway, a seemingly impossible objective.
We also make a visit to Woensdrecht where we are joined by one of Holland's top WWII historians. He grew up here, and was just a young boy when the fighting raged in the streets. He will share the vivid stories of Canadian sacrifice in the fight to free the Dutch people in his little village. We then visit Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery to pay our respects.
A leisurely drive east toward the German border brings us to the village of Mook and a wonderful location for our Farewell Lunch. Then it's one final stop, to pay respects at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, the largest in the Netherlands, before heading to Amsterdam for the final two nights of the trip. Overnight Amsterdam - hotel tbc. [B,L]
Wednesday October 2
Enjoy a full free day at your leisure in Amsterdam. Your day might include a visit to the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum, or perhaps the Anne Frank House. The flower market is a great place for souvenirs, and the Leidseplein and the Rembrandtplein are great places for food and people-watching. Overnight Amsterdam - hotel tbc. [B]
Thursday October 3
This morning is departure day for some travelers - buffet or box breakfast is included depending on departure time from the hotel. Some travelers may choose to remain in Europe longer to extend the end of the trip - let us know if we can quote you on post-tour accommodations. [B]