Western Front 2016 – Anzac Day Battlefield Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Thursday 21 April

For those members travelling on our group flight you will be met by your tour director and transferred to the hotel. Late afternoon, join your Tour Director and battlefield guide for a welcome reception and an opportunity to meet fellow tour members.

Overnight: Le Meridien Etoile, Paris 

le-meridien-etoile-a-pleasant-stay-in-the-hea-L-7pB5nFLe 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.

Day 2: Friday 22 April

After breakfast board the coach, travelling north of Paris we begin treading the First World War battlefields. We head to the Somme battlefields of 1916, paying particular attention to the area around Pozieres and Mouquet Farm, where the AIF suffered 23,000 casualties in several short weeks. See the poignant Windmill Memorial with its chilling pronouncement, Australian troops … fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war, then the 1st Australian Division Memorial, and the remains of the famous ‘Gibraltar’ blockhouse. Lunch is at nearby Albert, a town once familiar to every soldier serving on the Somme. Other sites of great importance we will see are La Boiselle (the astonishing mine crater is still there) and Thiepval, where the great British memorial to the ‘missing’. Late afternoon check into hotel for freshen up and dinner.

Overnight: Novotel Amiens East, Amiens        Meals: B L D

AmiensNovotel Amiens East is a wonderfully laid-back hotel that overlooks a beautiful wooded park, and is ideally located for visiting places of remembrance. The modern rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs, plus desks, minibars, and tea and coffee making facilities. Amenities include a casual French restaurant and an all-day bar. There’s also an outdoor pool and a sun deck.

Day 3: Saturday 23 April

We begin today with a visit to the Franco-Australien Museum at Villers-Bretonneux, before returning to the Somme battlefields to look at some of the main Australian battlefields of 1917. Travel to Bullecourt, via the Somme winter region around Butte de Warlencourt and Flers (where “trench foot”, the wet and the freezing cold was remembered by many old soldiers as the worst experience of the war), Bapaume, the town captured on 17 March 1917, and the Hindenburg outpost line villages around which several battles were fought. Tour the battlefield of Bullecourt where the AIF suffered 10,000 casualties in capturing part of the notorious Hindenburg Line defences in April/May. Attend a reception and lunch with the locals and inspect the local memorials, including the Bullecourt “Digger”, and the War Museum. Tonight is free to wander the town and enjoy the atmosphere of the canal waterfront.

Overnight: Novotel Amiens East, Amiens           Meals: B L

Day 4: Sunday 24 April

Today we tour the sites of heavy fighting in 1918, where the AIF confirmed its outstanding reputation as fighting troops, including the famous battleground of Hamel, and the subsequent Allied counter-offensive spearheaded by the Australian Corps under Sir John Monash, and the breaking of the Hindenburg Line. We go to the Australian Corps Memorial at Le Hamel, the Richthofen (‘The Red Baron’) crash site, and the 3rd Australian Division Memorial at Sailly-le-Sec, before a lunch stop at Peronne. This major town was liberated by Australians on 1 September 1918. Afterwards, we visit Mont St Quentin where we see the famous 2nd Australian Division Memorial, then on to the Hindenburg Line to view the Bellicourt tunnel, finally, Montbrehain where the Australians fought their last infantry action of the war. A free evening in Amiens or perhaps turn in for an early night to prepare for Anzac Day.

Overnight: Novotel Amiens East, Amiens                           Meals: B L

Day 5: Monday 25 April

ANZAC Day; a special day. We have an early rise to join thousands of fellow Australians for the Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux. The ceremony conducted at the Australian National Memorial, surrounded by the graves of soldiers killed in the local 1918 fighting, is a never to be forgotten experience. Following the ceremony we will go to Bapaume for lunch with time for any special request cemetery visits before returning to the hotel for rest.

Overnight: Novotel Amiens East, Amiens           Meals: B L D

Day 6: Tuesday 26 April

Depart Amiens and leave the Somme region heading for Flanders and the ancient town of Ypres. On the way we make an important stop at Fromelles to see where the Australians fought the disastrous action on 19/20 July 1916. We visit the old battlefield and go to the war museum, “Cobbers” Memorial, VC Corner and the new Pheasant Wood Cemetery with lunch in a nearby cafe. After crossing the border, we make our way through Ploegsteert Wood and climb Hill 63 to see the Messines battlefield where Australian troops assaulted in June 1917. Following this, we settle in at hotel, and take the chance to visit some fine restaurants in the town square.

Overnight: Novotel Amiens East, Amiens         Meals: B L

Day 7: Wednesday 27 April

Today we concentrate on the Australians’ experiences in the terrible Third Battle of Ypres (or simply “Passchendaele”); here we had 38,000 casualties over several weeks during late 1917. For the AIF this was the most costly year of the war. We will explore the preserved German trenches at Bayernwald which overlook the Messines battlefield. Then to the former battlefields at Hill 60 (see the Australian Tunnelling Corps Memorial), Menin Road, Polygon Wood where the 5th Division Memorial stands, Tyne Cot Cemetery (the largest Commonwealth War Cemetery which contains two Australian VCs), and Passchendaele village. This evening we have dinner together before participating in the moving “Last Post” ceremony and wreath-laying at the Menin Gate Memorial.

Overnight: Novotel Centrum, Ypres             Meals: B D

NovotelNovotel 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.

Day 8: Thursday 28 April

Today enjoy a full day tour visiting two beautiful UNESCO listed Belgium cities. We begin at historic Bruges with its wonderful art, architecture, canals, and lace shops, perhaps enjoy ice-cream and waffles in one of the many little cafes or a scenic boat cruise along the canals. Then it’s onto Ghent to wander the cobblestone streets and explore the cities palaces, cathedrals and medieval architecture. Tonight is available to enjoy free time and relax in Ypres.

Overnight: Novotel Centrum, Ypres         Meals: B 

Day 9: Friday 29 April

We conclude our tour of the battlefields returning to Paris via Vimy Ridge, the spectacular Canadian Memorial and the park and museum at Compiegne, where the Armistice ending the fighting was signed on 11 November 1918. Settle in at hotel, with the remainder of the day free for personal sightseeing and exploring. This evening join our farewell dinner for a cruise along the Seine, seeing the beautiful sights of Paris and Notre Dame Cathedral by night.

Overnight: Le Meridien Etoile, Paris               Meals: B L

Day 10: Saturday 30 April

After breakfast the tour comes to an end with a group transfer to the airport mid-morning.

Meals: B

Please Note: Itinerary subject to change according to prevailing circumstances.