11 Day Fully Escorted Battlefield Tour – including the Dawn Service at Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux
From: 19 – 29 April 2019
Fully Inclusive at $5,998* per person (Land package only)
Single Supplements available at $1,425
This tour will be fully escorted by expert battlefield guide, Dr Aaron Pegram. Aaron is a senior historian in the Military History Section at the Australian War Memorial
The Western Front 2019 Battlefield Tour has been specially designed to include the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, and to participate in the moving Last Post ceremony and wreath-laying at the Menin Gate Memorial. These services reflect on the thousands of soldiers that died and is a truly heartfelt experience for those that attend.
Your expert guide, will recount the Australians’ stories at the key battlefields, memorials and war cemeteries you’ll visit in the Somme, Flanders and the ancient town of Ypres. Along the way you will meet local French people for whom the memory of the diggers remains strong.
We are also excited to advise that due to many requests, for the first time during the Anzac Day period we will be visiting the battlefields of Verdun, the site of the heroic French stand of the First World War.
Your battlefield trip will begin and end in Paris, with a spectacular farewell dinner cruise on the Seine. We’ll also visit the sacred town of Reims and spend a wonderful day in the Champagne region, which includes a visit to the prestigious wine cellar of Moet & Chandon.
Our tour focuses on a unique range of activities and the venues have been carefully selected to enable you to experience the best local French cuisine and the provincial charm of the areas visited.
You will also get exclusive access to a vast array of ww1 battlefields documentation, maps, films and photographs from the archives of the Australian War Memorial to enhance your experience and ensure you a wonderful and memorable tour.Enquire Now
- The very special Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers Bretonneux.
- Participate in the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate – a never to be forgotten experience.
- Visit the main Somme battlefields where the AIF suffered thousands of casualties in several short weeks.
- Retrace the steps of the terrible Third Battle of Ypres and the former battlefields of Hill 60, Menin Road, Polygon Wood and many other sites of key interest.
- Visit the battlefields of Verdun, the site of the heroic French stand of the First World War.
- A stop at Compiegne, where the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.
- Visit the beautiful town of Reims, and see the huge gothic Cathedral Notre Dame and the Basilique St-Remi.
- Travel through the picturesque landscapes of vines to the Epernay, where we visit the prestigious wine cellar of Moet & Chandon and enjoy a relaxing lunch.
- Spectacular farewell dinner cruise on the Seine, Paris, to celebrate with new friends and the end of a wonderful tour.
Your Battlefield Tour Includes:
- Fully escorted by Western Front specialist and battlefield guide, Dr Aaron Pegram.
- All battlefield sites, scenic drives and museums as described in the itinerary.
- Central accommodation in each town.
- All meals as listed on the itinerary, which have been specially selected to enable you to experience the best local cuisine.
- Plenty of Free Time. We understand that you might want to have a break occasionally.
- Services of a local english speaking guide throughout your tour.
- Ground transport in deluxe air-conditioned coaches with toilet, Wifi, and DVD player
- All entrance fees as per the itinerary.
- Boronia Travel Centre cap, ticket wallet and luggage tags
- Tour reference book with plenty of maps and relevant information
- Single Supplements available at $1,425. If you are willing to share a room please contact us and we will note the details and will contact you if we can match you with a suitable person.
- *Prices are per person twin share. Land package only.
- Boronia Travel Centre uses Singapore Airlines for all their Western Front Tours, and has access to the most competitive discounted airfares available from Australia.
- Group airfare add-on options available upon request.
- Upgrade airfares to business and first class available upon request.
- Spend more time in Paris with one of our accommodation packages available at discounted rates. AWM tour member discounts available.
Meals Included: B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Day 1, 19 April – For those members travelling on our group flight you will be met by our tour director and transferred to the hotel, then early evening, join our Tour Director and military historian for a welcome reception with fellow tour members. (Dinner own arrangements).
Day 2, 20 April – Leaving Paris early this morning we travel east to the battlefields of Verdun, the site of the heroic French stand of the First World War. The Battle of Verdun is considered the greatest and lengthiest in world history. Never before or since has there been such a lengthy battle, involving so many men, situated on such a tiny piece of land. The battle, which lasted from 21 February 1916 until 19 December 1916, caused over an estimated 700,000 casualties. Here we spend the afternoon visiting the Fort of Douaumont, the ossuary and Verdun museum and memorial. Later we travel to the nearby sacred town of Reims for a 2 night stay. B L
Day 3, 21 April – Today we travel through the picturesque landscapes of vines to the Epernay, where we travel down the most famous street, the Avenue de Champagne which features the leading Champagne manufacturers. We visit the prestigious wine cellar of Moet & Chandon, whose wine cellars stretch some 28kms underground. There is of course an opportunity to taste their reputed wine. Later we have champagne tastings at Champagne Feuillatte followed by a relaxing lunch. We then return to Reims for time to explore the city, see the Cathedral Notre Dame, one of the great cathedrals of France, a huge gothic structure, noted for its elegance and harmony, wander through the towns’ wide avenues and well-tended parks, to see some of Reims best examples of art deco style homes and the Basilique St-Remi, the oldest church in Reims and the Town Hall dating back to the 17th century. B L
Day 4, 22 April – Today we make our way to Amiens and the Somme battlefields, via the sites of Australian actions during the final months of the war. We’ll stop at the St Quentin Canal entrance at Bellicourt, Montbrehain, where the Australians fought their last infantry action of the war. We then head to Mont St Quentin, its capture by the Australians regarded by General Sir Henry Rawlinson as the “finest single feat of arms of the war” to see the 2nd Australian Division Memorial. We’ll make a stop for lunch at a local restaurant in Péronne, a town which was occupied by the Germans for most of the war and captured by Australian forces in early September 1918, then head to Villers-Bretonneux to visit the newly opened Sir John Monash Centre located at the Australian National Memorial. We then travel onto Amiens, located on the Somme River and overshadowed by the largest UNESCO world Heritage listed Cathedral in France, it will be our home for the next few nights. B L
Day 5, 23 April – This morning we head to the Somme battlefields of 1916, paying particular attention to the area around Pozières and Mouquet Farm where the AIF suffered 23,000 casualties in several short weeks of fighting. We will visit the poignant Windmill Memorial with its chilling pronouncement that ‘Australian troops … fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war’. Other sites include the 1st Australian Division Memorial and the remains of the famous ‘Gibraltar’ blockhouse, the Lochnagar crater at La Boiselle and the great British memorial to the missing at Thiepval. We then continue onto the battlefields of 1917 to Bullecourt where the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties in a series of costly battles throughout April and May. Lunch will be a special occasion, for it will be prepared by the locals in the town hall in wonderful display of the unique friendship between Australia and France. Afterwards, we visit the Jean and Denise Letaille War Museum and view the local memorials including the Bullecourt “Digger” and the Slouch Hat Memorial. We return to Amiens for a free night to rest or enjoy the atmosphere of the canal waterfront. B L
Day 6, 24 April – After breakfast we drive to the village of Villers-Bretonneux, recaptured by Australian troops after a short period of German occupation in April 1918, which displays many signs of the local people’s appreciation of Australian efforts there. We wander the Franco-Australien museum situated in the Ecole Victoria (the Victorian School), rebuilt in the 1920s with funds donated by the Australian public. We then tour the sites of heavy fighting in 1918, including the famous battleground of le Hamel, and the starting positions for the Battle of Amiens that saw the Australians and Canadians advance 12 kilometres in a single day. We go to the Australian Corps Memorial at Le Hamel, pass the crash site of Manfred von Richthofen (‘The Red Baron’) crash site, and see the 3rd Australian Division Memorial at Sailly-le-Sec, before a lunch stop at Fouilloy. Afterwards we visit Adelaide Cemetery, located on the outskirts of Villers-Bretonneux, which for 75 years was the original resting place of the Unknown Australian Soldier now entombed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. We return to Amiens for an early night in preparation for Anzac Day. B L
Day 7, 25 April – Anzac Day; a special day for Australians. We have an early rise to join thousands for the special centenary Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. We will return to Amiens following the ceremony to freshen-up and rest. Later, we’ll meet for a lovely lunch at a local restaurant near the Amiens cathedral. B L
Day 8, 26 April – This day we depart Amiens and head for Belgium and the ancient town of Ieper (Ypres, as it was known during the war). On the way we make an important stop at Fromelles to see where the Australian and British troops participated in a costly and unsuccessful attack on 19/20 July 1916. We will explore the new Battle of Fromelles Museum and the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery where the 250 men whose remains were found in 2010 now rest. We continue on to the Cobbers Memorial, and VC Corner on the Fromelles battlefield, before stopping for lunch at an eclectic café at nearby Estaires. Afterwards, we continue on our journey via Messines Ridge and check into our hotel at nearby Ieper. This will be a good time to rest and freshen-up, since tonight the group will attend the Last Post Ceremony at the nearby Menin Gate Memorial during which we will lay a wreath. B L
Day 9, 27 April – Today we concentrate on the Australian experiences in the Third Battle of Ypres where the AIF suffered over 38,000 casualties in eight weeks – its greatest losses of the war. We explore the battlefields at Hill 60, travel down the Menin Road to Polygon Wood where the 5th Australian Division Memorial stands, and visit the Passchendaele Memorial Museum at Zonnebeke where we will have lunch. Afterwards, we visit the enormous Tyne Cot Cemetery which contains over 11,000 burials that include two Australian VC recipients. We return to Ieper for free time in the afternoon to explore the town square, and perhaps visit the In Flanders Fields Museum inside the famous Cloth Hall. We have dinner together this evening in a restaurant located in the old casements of the city in what were formerly barracks used by British troops during the war. B L D
Day 10, 28 April – We conclude our battlefield tour by returning to Paris via Compiegne, where the Armistice ending the fighting was signed on 11 November 1918. After we settle in at our hotel, the remainder of the day is free for personal sightseeing, shopping and exploring. We will have a farewell dinner as we cruise along the Seine River, taking in the beautiful sights of Paris and the Notre Dame Cathedral before we farewell our guides and travel companions. B D
Day 11, 29 April – The tour comes to an end after breakfast with a group transfer to Charles de Gaulle airport. B
Please Note: Itinerary subject to change according to prevailing circumstances.Enquire Now
Le Meridien Etoile, Paris
Le Meridien Etoile is just across the street from Le Palais des Congrès de Paris convention centre and mall. This sleek hotel is 1.3 km from the Arc de Triomphe. In this stylish property with modern decor, all air-conditioned rooms have private bathrooms, Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs. The rooms are soundproof and room service is available for all meals. The Jazz Club Etoile is on the ground floor of the Méridien Etoile. It is a well-known Paris jazz club and hosts some of the world’s best musicians. The club overlooks the interior courtyard. It also has a terrace in the interior garden, where you can enjoy snacks and cocktails.
Holiday Inn Hotel, REIMS
An 8-minute walk from both Reims station and the Museum of Fine Arts, this modern hotel with a glass facade is also 12 minutes by foot from the 13th-century Reims Cathedral. The contemporary rooms include free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, plus minibars, and tea and coffee-making equipment. The split-level suites add terraces, and separate living areas with pull-out sofas. The property has a rooftop bar and an Italian restaurant, both with views of the cathedral.
Holiday Inn Express, Amiens
The Holiday Inn Express Amiens is a charming 3-star hotel set in a prime location in the centre of Amiens. Local tourist attractions such as Musee de l’Hotel de Berny, Jules Verne House and Amiens Cathedral are not far from the hotel. Also within easy reach is City Centre Amiens. Room facilities include climate control, coffee/tea maker, fax machine and in-room safe. In-room entertainment options include satellite television service. Guests will appreciate complimentary wireless high-speed Internet access.
Novotel Centrum, Ypres
Novotel Centrum Flanders Fields is a 3-star city centre Ypres hotel, a stone’s throw from Ypres Market Square and In Flanders Fields Museum. You’ll also be within 5 minutes of Cloth Hall and Menin Gate Memorial. The hotel has a restaurant and free WiFi along with an elevator (lift). There is also a bar/lounge where guests can enjoy drinks, plus there is a fitness centre and steam room for guests to take advantage of also.Enquire Now
Our tour members depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. We do our best to meet and exceed their high standards, which is what you’d expect from Australia’s leading battlefield tour company. Here’s what our past passengers say about our efforts…
Western Front – Anzac Day Tour 2018
“Firstly we must apologise for the time it has taken us to thank you for such a great adventure. As you knew we came home via Amsterdam and Singapore and we are now only getting our feet back under the desk after catching up on stuff that occurred whilst we were away. Well, what can we say, the experience far exceeded our expectations. We have travelled with Insight before and their level of service, coaches and commitment to service can not be faulted. But this trip had two extra bonus, Nick Fletcher on one bus and Graeme Beveridge, one our bus, and what an absolute gentleman. His knowledge of the Australian/Commonwealth involvement within the Western Front is second to none, his compassion and commitment in ensuring that everyone was able to be involved, yet was sensitive enough to allow people to have their own special time.
From the minute we stepped off the plane in Paris till the time we said our goodbyes at the conclusion, the trip was fantastic, a once in a lifetime experience. Both the two tour directors, John in our bus and Brad in the other ensured that we travelled as a group with a little bit of banter and fun between the two groups which made for a great journey.
Peter seemed to be there but not be there if that makes any sense. He made sure if we needed any assistance in any way, he was the go to man, he was a joy to travel with. All we can say is that we are very glad we chose Boronia Travel for this trip as the memories will remain with us for as long as we live. You have a very well organised travel adventure and we can not find a single recommendation for improvement. Well done to the whole team.”
Colin Bird & Sue Buckingham
Western Front – Anzac Day Tour 2018
“I’d like to thank the Boronia Travel Centre team for having organised such a wonderful tour. My original intent in committing to go was to “fill in” what I had missed in July 2016 and attend the Villers Bretonneux 100th commemorations. What you provided was all of those and more and for that I am very grateful. The planning and execution was spot on for which you, Brad and Nick are to be congratulated. Nick Fletcher’s input was just outstanding. His knowledge and preparedness to provide responses to all of the questions thrown at him made for fantastic background information for all those on the bus.”
“Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed the Western Front Tour with Aaron Pegram and John. The itinerary was well planned, Frank the bus driver was exceptional and the accommodation fine.
As the Tour Director, John did a terrific job managing us all in a very friendly manner and his insights and commentary on the local areas was very good.
A special mention for Aaron. His historical knowledge made it all came alive for me and it was terrific how he was able to meet everyone’s needs and requests on the tour. Nothing was ever too much trouble and he got the balance just right between enough information and information overload. A great experience I will never forget.”
“Howard and I have been very remiss in not contacting you to tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to the Western Front with Boronia Travel this year. It was all we were hoping for, and more. The “more” was because of the people. Graeme and John, the tour historian and tour leader, were so generous with their time and knowledge and were the ultimate professionals, making our travel experience one of ease and extraordinary interest. Jean-Michel, our bus driver, was a legend and our fellow tour companions completed the experience. Thank you.”
Rae King and Howard Gibbon
“I write to commend and thank you for the marvellous Guide we had in Aaron Pegram on the recent Western Front tour in April. Aaron was not only extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the War but he ensured that everyone who had a personal interest in a battlefield, cemetery or memorial had the opportunity to visit the site and was given time for quiet reflection.
Although the Tour participants had a collective interest in the Western Front, we were a diverse group of people and Aaron managed us all with great sensitivity and aplomb. Once again, thank you for such a great Tour”.
Our customers depend on us to provide a once in a lifetime battlefield experience combined with exceptional customer service. Visit our page full of client testimonials.Enquire Now