11 days, Thursday, November 5, to Sunday, November 15, 2020.
A thorough exploration of the battlefields of France and Belgium, focusing on the Canadian contributions in Flanders’ Fields, at Vimy, the Somme, and of course Normandy. A Remembrance Day commemoration at Ypres' Menin Gate Monument will be a highlight to remember! Excellent hotels, meals and history lectures by your tour escort, Jacques Pauwels or Michael Quinn.
Evening departure from Toronto to Paris with Air Canada or Air France. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served during the flight.
Morning arrival at Paris CDG Airport. Transfer by private coach to the charming Normandy seaport of Honfleur, situated on the Seine Estuary, associated with Samuel de Champlain who sailed from here in 1608 to found the city of Quebec and the colony of New France! Check in to a centrally located hotel and free time to settle in before an exploratory walk and dinner in an harbour area restaurant.
Two full days of sightseeing in Normandy. Among the highlights will be Pegasus Bridge; Juno Beach (the Canadian sector of the Landing Beaches) with the excellent Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer; the Canadian War Cemetery of Bény-sur-Mer; Arromanches with the remains of the great artificial ‘Mulberry’ harbour; and Ardenne Abbey, where Canadian POWs were executed by SS troops. Also Bretteville Canadian War Cemetery in the area of the Falaise Gap; Caen, the city of William the Conqueror, carefully rebuilt after being destroyed during the fighting in 1944; and the picturesque town of Bayeux, famous for the “Bayeux Tapestry,” a medieval embroidered “comic strip” showing the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. Late afternoon return to Honfleur and free evening.
Second day in the Normandy area.
After breakfast, departure for Dieppe, where Canadian troops landed in August 1942. Visits to both the Canadian Memorial (at the infamous beach) and nearby War Cemetery. On for a drive along the English Channel coast, with wonderful views of the “White Cliffs of Dover” (if weather permits) and a stop in Wimereux, just outside Boulogne, to visit the grave of John McRae, author of “In Flanders’ Fields.” We also view some installations of the German Atlantic Wall, including a “big gun” emplacement. Continuing via Calais and the entrance to the "Chunnel", we reach Dunkirk, where we walk on the beach that witnessed the evacuation of British troops in 1940. Crossing the Belgian border, we pause near the little seaport of Nieuwpoort and the mouth of the Yser River, where in 1914-1918, the frontline ended with barbed wire stretched across the beach into the North Sea. On to Bruges, arguably the best-preserved medieval town in all of Europe. In 1944, the city was liberated by a Canadian Army unit from Manitoba, entering the town, as we will, by what today is called the Canada Bridge. Time to relax in our charming 4-star hotel before dinner in a typical restaurant.
This morning we enjoy a leisurely walking tour of old Bruges. Highlights include the Belfry, symbol of the city; the Church of Our Lady; the Gothic Town Hall; Medieval St. John’s Hospital; the scenic canals that crisscross the town; the Lake of Love and the romantic Beguinage. Remainder of the day at leisure. This evening, an optional dinner of Flemish culinary specialties during which we will be entertained by musicians specializing in medieval music but who will also treat us to songs of WWI.
This morning we travel by local train to the town of Ieper (French: Ypres), hub of “Flanders Fields,” to attend the moving Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Menin Gate, the principal British War Memorial in the area. After a group lunch in a typical restaurant, visit to the excellent Flanders Fields War Museum, located in the famous Cloth Hall, a wonderful medieval building destroyed during WW l but carefully reconstructed in the following decades (www.inflandersfields.be). A visit to St. George Memorial Chapel with its remembrance memorials and plaques to the fallen before we return to Bruges.
Today we explore the area along the nearby Belgian-Dutch border where the Canadian Army fought the crucial “Battle of the Scheldt” in the Fall of 1944. After short visits to memorials at Moerbrugge and Moerkerke, we stop at the Canadian War Cemetery in the village of Adegem to conduct a memorial service together with members of the local Belgian-Canadian Association who will also join us for lunch and a tour of the nearby Canadian War Museum. Afternoon return to Bruges and remainder of day at leisure.
Full-day excursion in the area. We begin at Reims with visits to the Cathedral, traditional coronation site of French kings and the "War Room" where General Eisenhower accepted one of the several German surrenders that took place at the end of the Second World War, on May 7, 1945. Following a gourmet Au Revoir lunch in an elegant country restaurant, we continue on to the "Glade of the Armistice" in the Compiègne Forest. It features the reconstructed railway car that served as Marshal Foch’s HQ, in which the Germans surrendered on November 11, 1918 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glade_of_the_Armistice. Evening free to pack your suitcase!
After breakfast, a short transfer (by hotel shuttle service) to Charles de Gaulle Airport in time for the return flight to Toronto. Lunch and snack served before the afternoon Pearson arrival.
• Accommodation in first-class (4-star) hotels, based on double occupancy. • Land tour transportation via private coach. • Meals: full buffet breakfast daily and a total of five multi-course dinners or lunches. • Sightseeing, visits, and excursions as indicated in the itinerary, including admissions. • Hotel taxes and gratuities. • Airport lounge pass for air-inclusive booking made more than 90 days prior to departure.
• Meals other than those mentioned above. • Beverages with dinners. • Coach driver’s gratuity, estimated at $35.00 CAD. • All expenses of a personal nature. • Travel Insurance: available on an individual basis. Please call for rates.
January 19 - 27, 2021
$5,474 from Toronto based on double accommodation
March 02 - 19, 2021
$4,995 from Toronto based on double occupancy
March 05 - 18, 2021
Land only: $3,010