Sep 8th, 2007, 08:17 AM
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We are travelling to France next May to see Paris and to go to the battlefields. We are mainly interested in Aust/Nz sites I am planning for this to start from Mont St Michal and from there we were work our way to Belgium.
Have allowed my husband 9 days for this Any one done this trip?
All suggestions appreciated
lee59 is offline  
Sep 8th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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One tour operator often recommended here:
Michel_Paris is offline  
Sep 8th, 2007, 12:49 PM
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hi lee59

Is it WW1 or WW2 battlefields you are interested in?

I've visited some from WW1 in Belgium and can give you some details.

joe4212 is offline  
Sep 8th, 2007, 01:00 PM
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JOe beat me to it. We've also visited the WWI battlefields several times and I'd be happy to help. Sorry not much info on WWII
jody is offline  
Sep 8th, 2007, 04:30 PM
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Hi Joe and Jody
Yes WW1 is what we are mainly interested in. Went to Gallipoli last year for Anzac so my hubby wants to know more
lee59 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 02:10 AM
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hi lee59

For our trip to the major WW1 battlefields we based ourselves in Brugge.

I had a personal interest as my grandfather fought at Ypres.

There are companies that offer full day tours that incorporate visits to the Menin Gate, the major war cemeteries, Ypres, Passchendale and the WW1 trenches at Diksmuide.

We found two Brugge-based tour operators; Flanders Fields Battlefield Daytours and Quasimodo Tours. We chose the first and were impressed. Sites for both arebr />

One thing that may be of interest to you is that at the beginning of the tour the guide asked if anyone had a 'special' place they wanted to visit, somewhere personal to them. He said he would try his best to incorporate it in the tour. I am sure if you mention your interest in Aust/NZ sites he would try and help.

If I can recommend one thing to do before you guys visit it is to buy a copy of 'Major and Mrs.Holt's Battlefield Guide to Ypres Salient'. It is available from Amazon and any good bookshop. It is a superb reference for the area(s) you will be visiting including all those mentioned above. There are a whole series of guides from 'the Major and Mrs Holt' including one for the Somme. A comprehensive list of these can be found herebr />

If you have any more questions please let us know.

joe4212 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 03:10 AM
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I have visited the First and Second World War battlefields in France and Belgium a number of times, and can offer some suggestions. I think that your plan of 9 days would allow you to see quite a bit.

One of the very best sites for thos visiting WW I battlefields is Paul Reed's. It has a wealth of information:

For specific information on Australian sites, you might try this one:

The author, Mat McLaughlin has published a book, "Walking with the Anzacs" which I'm sure you will find in Australian book shops. I'm not familiar with it, but on the basis of his website, I'd say it would be very useful. You should also look for John Laffin's "Guide to Australian Battlefields of the Western Front."

You will certainly want to visit the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux and the nearby Australian Corps Memorial Park at Hamel.

Although your interest is in things Australian, you should not miss two Canadian sites: the Vimy Memorial near Arras, and the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme. Vimy, which was recently reopened after several years of restoration is a breathtaking site, and in my opinion, the finest of all the First World War memorials:

Beaumont Hamel is where the Newfoundland Regiment was almost completely destroyed on the first day of the battle of the Somme. It is a very poignant place, where the original trenches still remain.

As others have mentioned, you should visit Ypres with the Flander Fields Museum in the Cloth Hall and the Menin Gate. Try to be at the Menin Gate for 8:00 pm when the Last Post is sounded by the Ypres Fire Brigade. The Ypres Salient is filled with military cemeteries and memorials. I would highlight the massive Tyne Cot cemetery, the Hill 62 Trench Museum, and the St. Julien memorial.

As you are starting at Mont St. Michel, you should take some time (a day or two) to visit some of the main sites in Normandy. I would not miss the U.S. Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach, Arromanches, the Peace Memorial at Caen (allow half a day), and perhaps the Pegasus Bridge Site at Bénouville. You should probably spend a night at Bayeux, which aside from having the Tapestry, is a very picturesque town, relatively untouched by the war, unlike so many other towns in Normandy. There are many Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in Normandy, including one in Bayeux at the Commonwealth Memorial. As a Canadian, I always visit the one at Bény-sur-Mer. If you have time, I would recommend a visit to the Canadian Juno Beach Centre right on the beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer.

Good luck with your planning.
laverendrye is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 03:50 AM
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If you're mainly interested in ANZAC battlefields , Normandy and the Channel coast south of Calais are really of no interest, and WW2 is something that happened in Asia. No doubt some Anzacs were in Europe in '39 and joined the British forces and some of them would have fought in Europe: but there weren't (were there?) any specific Anzac detachments fighting to defend or retake France/Belgium.

So there's little of direct interest to you between Mont St Michel and the Somme. Enjoy your day or two in Normandy, but then drive to Peronne to start looking at the Anzac battlefields, basing yourselves there for three or four days, then in Ypres for a further three or four.
flanneruk is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 04:22 AM
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laverendrye, thanks for the link to Paul Reed's site. I've booked my flights for a visit to Verdun (and probably Chemin des Dames) in October. Unfortunately, he's in the process of updating his Verdun page, but I found quite a few leads to books and maps elsewhere on his site.

lee59, have a good trip.

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 04:37 AM
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Lots of excellent suggestions.

I'm assuming you'll have a car so can go further afield.

We've based at various times in Albert, Perrone, Ieper (Ypres), Mont Kemmel, Verdun. All have excellent facilities and most have day tours available.

I too would start at the Somme and work my way up into the Ieper Salient.

Another excellent site is Hellfire Corner.

We were fortunate enough to be staying in the same hotel in Ieper with a battlefied tour group from the UK and were invited to go along with them on a private visit to St George's chapel in Ieper. I'll se if I can find their site.

A few pictures..
jody is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 04:50 AM
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Another good book you might enjoy

A Storm in Flanders: The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front by Winston Groom
jody is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 07:50 AM
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I'm with Jody about getting a copy of A Storm in Flanders. Essential reading before your visit.

joe4212 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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I think The Americanization of Emily should be required viewing for anyone contemplating visiting battlefields.

It's about WWII, but points out that there was no triumph in The Great War - only mindless bloodletting.
Robespierre is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Visiting the First World War battlefields, and their cemeteries, is essential for anyone trying to understand twentieth-century European history. It is an incredibly moving experience.

One site that has not been mentioned is the Thiepval memorial. This huge monument contains the names of 73,357 British and South African men who have no known grave and who fell on the Somme between July 1916 and 20 March 1918. It is well worth seeing.

You should also realise that this whole area of northern France and Belgium contains very many cemeteries for all the sides in the conflict. The small French village cemeteries and memorials are a reminder of how the war affected the local population, and existence of memorials in a variety of languages and scripts shows how combatants came from across the world.
chartley is online now  
Sep 9th, 2007, 09:37 AM
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Canada_V is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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If you plan on going to Ypres, be aware that the town's Flemish name is Ieper and this is how you'll see it on many websites, maps etc. as its in the Flemish part of Belgium (Ypres being the French name).

I did a tour of Ieper this past July. We went with the company "Flanders Battlefield Tour". I enjoyed the tour very much. As myself and my friends I was visiting in Belgium were the only ones on the tour that day, the guide was able to stop at some of the Canadian sites he might not normally have (of special interest to me being Canadian).

The tour states "museums included". However, be careful as this only referred to a private museum where the landowner never cleaned up his farmland after WWI. It does NOT include entrance to the "In Flanders Fields Museum" in the city which I highly recommend visiting (

Not that I'm saying that the private museum is not worth the visit, it's just that we were under the impression the tour included the other museum as well. Just something to ask/be aware of if you go on a tour and it says that museum entrance included.
ShelliDawn is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 02:37 PM
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To you all
thank you so much for all oyur ideas it is all helpful. gives me lots of things to go through

lee59 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2007, 08:02 PM
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