A fascinating exploration of the battlefields of France and Belgium, focusing on the Canadian contribution in Flanders’ Fields, the Somme, Mons, Normandy, and of course Vimy Ridge, where the commemorations on April 9 will constitute one of the tour’s highlights! Comfortable superior tourist-class/3-star hotels, meals, and history lectures by your tour escort, Michael Quinn, and also by Jacques Pauwels, author of a number of books on both World Wars.
April 04 - 15, 2017
based on "land only" and double occupancy Single supplement: $565 A non-stop return flight from Toronto to Brussels is available at $798, including all airport taxes, security fees, and fuel surcharges
*If the tour is SOLD OUT, please contact us to be added to the waitlist.
Today we tour Flanders’ Fields, the World War I battlefields zone in Belgium, stretching from the French border to the North Sea. Visits to the town of Ieper (Ypres), with the Menin Gate Memorial and the Flanders’ Fields Museum, located inside the town’s emblematic Cloth Hall; the Canadian Memorial in Passchendaele, in whose muddy fields Canadian troops fought an epic battle in 1917; Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Cemetery in the world; the Brooding Soldier Monument, commemorating the men who fell during the first gas attack in 1915; Essex Farm Cemetery, where John McRae composed his famous poem; the German War Cemetery of Vladslo, site of the poignant Käthe Kollwitz sculpture "The Mourning Parents"; and the little seaport of Nieuwpoort, at the mouth of the Yser River, where in 1914-1918 the frontline ended with barbed wire stretched across the beach and into the salty water of the North Sea. Dinner in a restaurant in the old town of Ieper, and afterwards we attend the daily Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, a tradition since the early 1920s! (www.greatwar.co.uk/events/menin-gate-lastpost-ceremony.htm). Late return to our hotel in Kortrijk.
Today, on the 100th anniversary of the great battle, we attend the official commemorations at Vimy Ridge (www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimy-100).
Departure from Kortrijk after breakfast. We tour the region of France that witnessed the 1916 Battle of the Somme, with sights such as the Newfoundland Caribou Monument (and adjoining information centre) at Beaumont-Hamel; the Ulster Tower; the massive British Memorial of Thiepval; and the Canadian Monuments of Courcelette and Le Quesnel (www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/somme.html). On for dinner and overnight to the picturesque and historic seaport of Honfleur, in Normandy, whence Samuel de Champlain sailed for Canada in 1608 to found the city of Quebec and the colony of New France. Overnight in the 3-star Hotel Ibis Styles (http://www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-0986-mercure-honfleur-hotel/index.shtml) and dinner in a nearby restaurant.
In the morning, leisurely walking tour of old Bruges, with as highlights the main square with the majestic Belfry, symbol of the city, the Church of Our Lady (with a statue by Michelangelo!), the Gothic Town Hall, medieval St. John’s Hospital, the scenic canals that crisscross the town, the Lake of Love, and the romantic Beguinage. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Morning exploration of the nearby area – on both sides of the Belgian-Dutch border - where in the fall of 1944 the Canadian Army fought the “Battle of the Scheldt,” with sights such as the Leopold Canal, the Monument to Queen Wilhelmina’s return to Holland, the Canadian War Cemetery in Adegem (with a short ceremony), and the nearby Canadian War Museum, where we will enjoy a group lunch and socialize with members of the Belgian-Canadian Association. Return to Bruges and rest of the day at leisure.
After an early breakfast, transfer to Brussels Airport in time for the late morning departure of our nonstop return flight to Toronto. Lunch and a light snack will be served before the mid-afternoon arrival in Toronto.
- Accommodation in superior tourist-class/3-star hotels, based on double occupancy – single supplement: $565. - Meals: buffet breakfast daily and a total of five full-course dinners or sometimes full lunches. - Overland transportation via private coach. - Sightseeing, visits, and excursions as indicated in the itinerary, including admission. - Hotel taxes and gratuities. - Services of an expert Pauwels tour guide.
- All expenses of a personal nature. - Meals other than those mentioned above. - Beverages with dinners. - Coach driver’s gratuity, estimated at $35. - Travel insurance: available upon request.