2023 Vimy Ridge Day
Canadian Battlefield Tour
Vimy Ridge on APRIL 9th
2023 Vimy Ridge Canadian Battlefield Tour
The Battlefields of The Great War 1914-1918 plus a visit to Juno Beach
Anniversary of Vimy Ridge on April 9
At a glance
April 3-15, 2023 • France, Belgium, England • 13 days
Paris • Bayeux • Amiens • Arras • Ypres • London
Juno Beach • Abbey Ardennes • All of Canada's Great War Monuments • the "Trail of the Caribou" • Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate • St. Symphorien Cemetery • Vimy Ridge on the Anniversary April 9th • Paris & London!
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Tuesday April 4
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 this amazing city.
In the evening we meet 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 - hotel tba. [D]
Wednesday April 5
This morning we depart for the Normandy coast to consider WW2 and pre D-Day, looking at the 'Atlantic Wall' defenses facing the Allies in the coming invasion.
We visit the fascinating German defensive position at Merville Battery, which remains exactly as it was on June 6th 1944 and features a beautiful Douglas C-47 "Dakota" aircraft - the airplane that won the war.
After a group lunch with wine we take a private tour of Chateau de Creully, where BBC set up their broadcasting room and sent some of the first news of the D-Day invasion back to England and North America. Overnight Bayeux - hotel tba. [B,L]
Thursday April 6
This morning we honour the upcoming 79th Anniversary of 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 included, along with a tour of the German command bunker. We then walk along the shores to hear personal stories of the men who landed here.
For lunch we invite our guests to walk with us across the canal into Courseulles to explore the local restaurants. We then move east, standing on Juno at Bernières-sur-Mer to observe the famous Canada House and the nearby defenses, along with an invitation to visit inside the historic home.
Next we stop at the Juno sector near St-Aubin-sur-Mer, where a 50-mm German anti-tank gun still sits ominously in its casemate.
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 - hotel tba. [B,L]
Friday April 7
We begin the day with a visit to Ardennes Abbey near Caen, where Canadian soldiers were illegally executed in the few days following the landings. A small memorial in the garden stands as a testament to twenty young men.
We travel up the coast to break for lunch in historic Honfleur, which has a significant connection to Canada. Following this, we say goodbye to Normandy and continue our journey northeast into France, as we move back in time to World War One. Overnight Amiens - hotel tba. [B,L]
Saturday April 8
Day Six is steeped in history as we wind our way into the 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 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 WW1 western front.
Our lunch stop is in the midst of the Somme battlefield region, at a local restaurant hidden from view which serves excellent food, with wine/beer (with advanced menu selection).
Next is a visit to see the impressive Thiepval Memorial, the largest Commonwealth War Graves monument in the world and 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).
We also visit the Canadian WW1 memorials at Le Quesnel and Courcelette, and the Newfoundland memorial at Gueudecourt. The day also features a visit to the very unique landscape known as Lochnagar Crater. Overnight Arras - hotel tba. [B,L]
Sunday April 9
Today is the anniversary of the start of The Battle of Vimy Ridge. We visit Vimy Ridge and join with fellow Canadians to honour all those who served Canada in The Great War, and in particular to remember those who fell at Vimy. Ample time is given to visit the Vimy Memorial, one of the most impressive of all the war monuments in Europe. We also look into the Visitors' Centre and tour the trenches and tunnels (subject to possible restrictions due to the presence of dignitaries; to be confirmed).
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 an establishment filled with historic French charm.
We then make a visit to the Hill 70 Memorial in Loos-en-Gohelle, the impressive new national Canadian war memorial in Europe which marks Canada's 'forgotten victory' of 1917. Our final stop of the day is the Newfoundland Regiment's memorial at Kortrijk. Overnight Arras - hotel tba. [B,L]
Monday April 10
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 tba. [B,L]
Tuesday April 11
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 (Ypres) - hotel tba. [B,L]
Wednesday April 12
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. 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 again at 8pm and selected travelers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of the tour group. Overnight Ieper (Ypres) - hotel tba. [B,L]
Thursday April 13
Our final day on the battlefields takes us to a very special place - the final resting place of LCol John McCrae. This seems a very fitting place to draw our battlefield tour to a close, and ponder all we have seen and learned.
We then cross under the channel to England, and travel onward to the historic city of London for two nights' stay. Overnight London - hotel tba. [B,L]
Friday April 14
Enjoy a full free day at leisure in London, a city of history and monuments waiting to be discovered including the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Imperial War Museum, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Platform 9-3/4 at Kings Cross Station ... and so much more! In the early evening we meet for our Farewell Dinner, to share a smile and a glass with new friends. Overnight London - hotel tba. [B,D]