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Touring Western Front Battlefields October 2014

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Oct 30th, 2013, 10:12 PM
  #1
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Touring Western Front Battlefields October 2014

We would like to spend a week touring the Western Front battlefields in Oct 2014, a combination of staying in different towns, visiting museums by ourselves and also taking guided day tours of the battlefields while there. We will be travelling by train from Paris and will need to return to Paris as flying to Barcelona after this week. It seems that Ypres and Amiens are good choices to base ourselves for a few days, it is the Australian WW1 & WW2 history we are most interested in. Seeking ideas and recommendations from those with experience touring these areas please.
janpeter3 is offline  
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Oct 31st, 2013, 12:07 AM
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Hi janpeter

We have stayed in both Amiens and Ypres, and spent quite some time investigating that area.

I gather from your comments above that you won't have a car? If this is so, Ypres is easy to cover by foot, but if you're staying in Amiens, then you'll need to rely on guided tours because the main commemorative sites are quite a way from the city.

There is a self-guided walk that you can do around Ypres. I have a copy of this that I'd be happy to share with you, if you can't locate it on line. It takes a couple of hours, and is very comprehensive and interesting. The museum in the Cloth Hall in the centre of town is also very worthwhile.

I assume you plan to go to the Menin Gate evening ceremony; very moving to say the least! We went on two separate evenings, and the ceremony was slightly different each time - it depends on whether there are any extra groups participating. There was a group of students from Ireland who sang and spoke at one of the ceremonies, and at the other several individual people presented wreaths.

From Amiens we drove to a number of memorial grave sites, the main one being the large Australian site outside Villers Bretonneaux. If you have any family history connected with the wars, it's worthwhile doing all your research before you go.

At the larger grave sites there's a small cupboard located somewhere in the entrance area - this contains a book listing what grave is where, and another for visitors to leave comments. In Villers Bretonneaux town there's a museum dedicated to the war with a lot of detailed exhibits.

I have no experience with guides for this area, but I'm sure there are others on Fodors who will help with that. Di
di2315 is offline  
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Oct 31st, 2013, 12:26 AM
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With next year being the Centennial of The Great War, I too am planning on hitting up WWI battlefields.

Belgium is chock-full of WWI and WWII sites and so Ypres is an excellent place to base. Numerous monuments are there and there is even a museum that has some restored WWI trenches. Very somber and definitely worth visiting.

I also highly recommend visiting Dunkirk. They have an very good museum on the evacuation with some interesting relics on display.

A series of books that you should look into are the Major & Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guides: http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=U...ch-alias%3Daps

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has an easy to use and informative site to help you locate graves: http://www.cwgc.org/
sparkchaser is offline  
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Oct 31st, 2013, 03:44 AM
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janpeter, I spent some time on the Western Front a few years ago. This trip report may give you a sense of what you can see. And feel.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...nd-picardy.cfm

Ypres and Amiens would be very good places to stay.
AnselmAdorne is online now  
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Oct 31st, 2013, 09:51 AM
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We stayed in Brugges and used Quasimodo tours for Ypres and the western front on a one day excursion. Small group, knowledgeable guide - i was very pleased. My grandfather fought in WW1 so its near and dear to me. I would still like to tour Verdun but that will be another trip. Brugges is both a lovely town for a night or two and also a good place to base yourself.
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Oct 31st, 2013, 09:53 AM
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If by chance you will have some time in Normandy (Bayeux), there is a wonderful British cemetery to visit. The graves of any soldier from the 'empire' is there - Australia, New Zealand, etc with poignant stories....there is a rose bush planted between each set of gravestones so the fallen will always be under the shade of an english rose...
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Oct 31st, 2013, 10:08 AM
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Very good friends just completed a 9-day tour sponsored by the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO. I have sent them an email to ask if it was U.S.-centric.

I checked the museum's website, the 2014 tour focuses on Gallipoli which would certainly be of interest. Might be some useful info or ideas on the website:

http://theworldwar.org/

(My friends thought their tour (25 people) was excellent.)
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Oct 31st, 2013, 10:10 AM
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AnselmAdorne, thank you so much for reposting your great report on visiting the sacred battlefields of WWI, probably the most senseless a conflict in history. What precious letters from your wife’s relative!

When I was in London last summer, I noticed that the CENOTAPH, that impressive monument on Whitehall to those who died in the war, was being refurbished. No doubt there will be many exhibits and commemorations of the event in the coming year.
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