Posts Tagged ‘tours’

The best remembrance and battlefield tours

August 6th, 2014

Travelling over 450 miles along the Western Front from the Belgian coast to the border of Switzerland, the seven- or nine-day itinerary includes the vestiges of several battlefields: memorials, cemeteries, trenches and museums. The seven-day tour, departing on August 25, is now reduced to £499 (from £620), while the nine-day tour (which allows more time in Nancy and Reims) departs on various dates between April and September 2015, from £799, including coach travel.


British troops go over the top during the Battle of the Somme

3. Corners of a Foreign Field
Titan (0800 988 5823; titantravel.co.uk).

With four nights in Lille, this tour focuses on the Flanders battlefields and Ypres and Passchendaele between 1914 and 1917. Two expert guides accompany the tour, Rhydian Vaughan (a former Welsh Guards officer and war historian) and Barrie Friend. Limited places are currently available on the September 18 tour, but there are plenty of other departures until October 2015. Prices start at £895 including coach travel.

4. First Ypres and the Christmas Truce
Holt Tours (01293 865000; holts.co.uk).

This wintertime itinerary is guided by an expert First World War lecturer, Simon Jones, who explains the gruelling, month-long First Battle of Ypres, including the Christmas Truce, examining the conflicting accounts of the famous football match and whether it really took place. The three-day tour departs on December 12 2014, and costs from £535 with Eurotunnel crossing.

5. Bruges and The Battlefields of Ypres
Great Rail Journeys (01904 891215; greatrail.com).

A leisurely itinerary allows plenty of time to explore the sights of Bruges, however, the third day packs in the key monuments of Ypres, including Tyne Cot Cemetery, the Bayernwald trenches and the “In Flanders Fields” museum. The five-day tour departs on September 7, 14, 28 and October 19, 2014 (note that availability is limited for September 14 departure). Prices from £495 including travel by Eurostar.

6. Battlefield Weekend
Back Roads Touring (020 8987 0990; backroadstouring.co.uk).

An insight into the major involvement of British and Commonwealth forces is compressed into three days and aims to give participants an understanding of strategies at the Somme, Villers-Bretonneux and Vimy Ridge. The three-day tour departs on various dates from September to October 2014 and from April to October 2015. Prices from £595, excluding travel from the UK.

7. Western Front and Ypres
Bartletts Battlefield Journeys (01507 523128; battlefields.co.uk).

These all-inclusive, tailor-made tours to the Western Front and Ypres are planned around the requirements and interests of individual guests (outline itineraries are available), in groups of up to seven people. Tours depart regularly until mid-December 2014 and cost from £845 (for three days).

8. First World War Battlefields
Insight Vacations (0800 533 5622; insightvacations.com).

Starting in Paris, the itinerary includes a visit to Flanders and the Ypres Salient (including Hill 60, Polygon Wood, Tyne Cot Cemetery and the Last Post sounded at the Menin Gate). It continues to the Somme and a visit to the Franco-British memorial at Thiepval. The four-day tour departs on various dates until mid-October 2014, and costs from £685 per person, excluding travel to Paris.

9. First and Last Shots: Mons in the First World War
Battlefield Breaks (02920 761379; battlefield-breaks.com).

This tour examines the beginning and end of the Great War, from the first shots fired by Corporal Thomas of the British Army to the canal and battlefield east of Mons where the final casualty fell. The four-day tour departs on September 19 and October 30, 2014, and costs from £279 including coach travel.

10. The Somme and Ypres
Somme Battlefield Tours (01202 880211; battlefield-tours.com).

Discover the battlefields at your own pace on a self-drive, tailor-made tour with a detailed guide of the key sites, road directions and historical information, including original trench maps, battlefield diagrams, panoramic and aerial photographs and descriptions. Hotels, sea crossing and local, English-speaking guides can also be arranged. The tours are available throughout the year and prices depend on individual requirements.


Britain declared war on Germany 100 years ago this week

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This article was first published on November 10, 2013, and updated in full, with new recommendations, on August 5, 2014.


World War Two

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D-Day 70th anniversary travel guide: events and tours in Normandy

April 17th, 2014

Only a privileged few can attend the governmental ceremonies, but the anniversary week will also see several large-scale public events. The most spectacular is likely to be a huge firework display on the evening of June 5, which will be visible from 24 beachfront towns. There will also be a massive picnic on Omaha Beach on the evening of Saturday June 7, featuring a Glenn Miller tribute band, while that same evening Bayeux, which became the first town in France to be liberated on June 7, 1944, will mark the anniversary with a Liberation Ball and an open-air jazz and gospel concert. Other events will include an outdoor film screening and concert at Arromanches on June 6; a children’s international football tournament in various coastal towns on June 7 and June 8; and 1940s flash mobs dancing in the streets of Carentan on June 7, and Ste-Mère-Église on June 8.

The crucial role of parachutists in the Allied invasion will be honoured by mass parachute jumps over Carentan at 1pm on June 4; Ste-Marie-du-Mont at 7.30pm on June 5; near Ranville, close to Pegasus Bridge, later that evening; and over Ste-Mère-Eglise at 11am at June 8. Members of the public can even join tandem parachute jumps at Ste-Mère-Eglise on June 6 and June 7 (€365 per person; 0033 233 21 00 33), while the Patrouille de France, the French equivalent of the RAF’s Red Arrows, will perform above Arromanches at 4pm on June 7.

Vintage military vehicles will parade along Omaha Beach from Vierville-sur-Mer on June 5; in Ste-Mère-Église on June 6; between Grandcamp-Maisy and Isigny-sur-Mer on June 7; through the streets of Bayeux and Carentan on Sunday June 8; and in Arromanches on June 9.

During the anniversary week, several communities will host reconstructions of Allied camps. The Arizona camp in Carentan is expected to welcome 420 participants and 150 military vehicles, and similar encampments will open in Colleville-sur-Mer, St-Laurent-sur-Mer, Vierville-sur-Mer and Ste-Mère-Église.

Accommodation is already over-subscribed for the anniversary week itself, though places are still available on some of the tours listed below. Visit at any other time during the summer, however, and it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to stay in the low-key resorts that line the invasion beaches, or the towns of Bayeux and Caen just inland.


Pegasus Bridge

Telegraph Travel’s D-Day drive

You don’t need a special itinerary through Normandy to see the impact of the 1944 Allied invasion. The effects are everywhere, from the reconstructed hearts of bombed-out cities like Cherbourg, Caen and Le Havre to countless damaged village churches. That said, for anyone interested in tracing the course of the Battle of Normandy, honouring the soldiers who took part, and learning more about how and why the D-Day landings took place, driving westwards along the Invasion beaches is an immensely rewarding experience and our Normandy guide includes an ideal itinerary to follow.

Before you start your tour, it’s well worth visiting either or both of the museums, a few miles back from the coast, that best explain the overall story. The Caen Memorial, just off the ring road that circles Caen, documents the build-up to war and life in occupied France as well as the invasion itself, and also covers postwar attempts to bring about world peace. The Musée Mémorial, on the edge of Bayeux, describes the battle itself, using easy-to-follow graphics as well as genuine artifacts.

Organised Tours

A selection of UK-based tour operators offering D-Day themed tours and cruises this year can be found here. They include: Holts Tours (01293 865000; holts.co.uk), Leger (0844 504 6251; visitbattlefields.co.uk), Travelsphere (0800 112 3313; travelsphere.co.uk), Trafalgar (0800 533 5616; trafalgar.com), Titan (0800 988 5823; titantravel.co.uk), Shearings (0844 824 6351; shearings.com), Martin Randall (020 8742 3355; martinrandall.com), Remembrance Travel (01473 660800; remembrancetravel.org.uk) and The Cultural Experience (01935 813700; theculturalexperience.com). Other operators offering bus or van tours of D-Day sites include the Caen Memorial museum (memorial-caen.fr), Normandy Sightseeing Tours (d-daybeaches.com), Victory Tours (victorytours.com), and Normandy Tours (normandy-landing-tour.com). The D-Day Academy (ddaca.com) explores the Landing Beaches in vintage military trucks, with some trips including adventurous drives over rough battlefield terrain and tastings of 1944 foods, while Les Vedettes de Normandie run boat excursions from Port en Bessin to the Pointe du Hoc, Arromanches, and along Omaha Beach (lesvedettesdenormandie.fr).

A great resource for active travellers, randonnees-normandes.com details self-guided walking routes along the Landing Beaches as well as guided hikes to battlefields and monuments on weekends throughout May and into June. The programme continues all summer, featuring organized hikes to different destinations each Wednesday during July and August.

That same website also itemizes seven self-guided D-Day cycling itineraries of varying lengths, with links to cycle-friendly accommodation, plus four organized one-day cycling excursions between May and August. On six dates in July and August, anyone aged ten or over can also join an offshore kayaking trip from Grandcamp-Maisy to see the fearsome heights of the Pointe du Hoc, as stormed by American commandos at dawn on D-Day. The site also details a three-day horse-riding trip from Utah Beach to Mont-Ormel, starting on August 20, and Nordic walking expeditions along Sword and Omaha beaches on September 20 and 21.

No single website lists the full programme of events, but useful options include ddayfestival.com; normandiememoire.com; the70th-normandy.com; bayeux-bessin-tourisme.com; andsainte-mere-eglise.info.

Getting to Normandy

The following ferry operators offer crossings to Normandy ports. For full details see telegraph.co.uk/ferries. Newhaven-Dieppe

DFDS Seaways (0800 917 1201; dfds.co.uk, operated with LD Lines); Brittany Ferries (0871 244 1400; brittanyferries.com) and Condor (0845 609 1024; condorferries.co.uk).

More on France

Normandy travel guide
A complete travel guide to Normandy, including the best hotels, attractions, restaurants, beaches and scenic drives, from our expert Greg Ward.

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