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Anzac Day in France & the Western Front 2018

Anzac Day in France & the Western Front 2018

9 Nights, 18-27 April 2018  |  Register now for $250*

Anzac Day in France & the Western Front 2018

On Anzac Day 1918 Australian soldiers captured the French town of Villers-Bretonneux, an action that was called ‘one of the finest feats of the war’. This is your chance to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this outstanding attack, alongside thousands of fellow Australians at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. Along with Anzac Day 2015 at Gallipoli, this service will be the most significant of the centenary commemorations. Our 9-night tour visits all the key Australian battlefield sites, as well as Paris, Champagne, Reims and Bruges. The highlight is the moving Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux.

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Day 1, 18 April Paris

Welcome to our Western Front tour! After checking in to our Paris hotel, we will come together for a welcome drink. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know our fellow passengers, Tour Manager and War Historian. After drinks, we'll enjoy a welcome dinner in the hotel. (D)

STAR INCLUSIONS: 4-star central Paris hotel - Welcome drink - Dinner

Day 2, 19 April Paris

Today will be spent exploring the sights and sounds of Paris, the 'City of Light'. In the morning, a local guide will escort us on a Panoramic Tour of the city's iconic sights. The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre Dame will all be seen. After enjoying lunch, we will have free time to further explore Paris. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Paris sightseeing tour - Traditional French lunch

Day 3, 20 April Paris to Ypres

Our tour in the footsteps of the Anzacs begins today. After breakfast we depart Paris for Ypres, scene of some of the most horrific fighting of the First World War and our home for the next four nights. On the way we will stop at Epernay, the birthplace of Champagne, and enjoy a guided tour of the cellars of a Champagne house. After a tasting of the region's famous bubbly we will depart for Reims, the historic city in the heart of the Champagne district. We will have free time for lunch and to explore the historic old town - don't miss the magnificent cathedral, where the Kings of France were once crowned. After leaving Reims we will visit the inspiring Australian 2nd Division Memorial and see the remains of trenches captured by Australian troops on the 1918 battlefield of Mont St Quentin. On arrival in Ypres we will enjoy dinner in our hotel. (B, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Guided tour and tasting at Moet & Chandon - Free time in Reims - Central Ypres hotel - Dinner

Day 4, 21 April Ypres

Between 1914 and 1918 the town of Ypres was the centre of four great battles, and was completely destroyed by shellfire. Today the rebuilt town is one of the iconic places on the Western Front. This morning, join your historian for a walking tour around the town, visiting key sights from the war such as the magnificent Cloth Hall, St George's Chapel, St Martin's Cathedral, the Menin Gate and Ramparts Cemetery. We will then enjoy a free afternoon, the perfect opportunity to explore the charming streets and squares of Ypres. This evening we will return to the Menin Gate, where the names of 54,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers are recorded, for the moving Last Post ceremony. The Ypres fire brigade has performed this bugle ceremony every day and in all weather since the memorial opened in 1927. The only interruption was during the four years of German occupation during the Second World War - the ceremony recommenced on the day the town was liberated. Two of our passengers will be invited to lay a wreath on behalf of the group. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Walking tour around Ypres - Participation in Last Post Service at the Menin Gate

Day 5, 22 April The Ypres Salient

The Ypres Salient was a bulge in the front line that curved around Ypres for most of the war. More than a million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Today we will explore the Australian battlefields in the Salient, places where the Anzacs made history in 1917. Our first stop will be the Passchendaele Museum which features a recreated British dugout. We will then visit the 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood and see the graves of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder, the two Australian soldiers who featured in Mat McLachlan's and Michael Molkentin's documentary 'Lost in Flanders'. Lunch is included at Cafe de Dreve, where the owner, Johan Vandewalle, will tell us about his discovery of the bodies of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder in a Belgian field. We then get a taste of the devastation caused by four years of continuous artillery fire at the cratered landscape of Hill 60, before visiting Tyne Cot, the world's largest Commonwealth war cemetery. Tyne Cot sits in the heart of one of the most horrific battlefields of the war - Passchendaele. Our final stop today is at the German Cemetery at Langemarck, where we will learn about the men on the other side of the line. As we drive back to our hotel we will see the magnificent Canadian memorial at Langemarck, marking the spot where poison gas was first used in the war. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Full day touring the battlefields of the Ypres Salient - Passchendaele 1917 Museum - Lunch - Presentation by Johan Vandewalle

Day 6, 23 April Bruges

We will spend time today exploring Bruges, one of Europe's most charming medieval cities. Wander the cobbled streets, take a cruise on one of the city's enchanting canals, ride through the picturesque squares in a horse and cart or sample the lace boutiques, chocolate shops and cafes that make Bruges famous. On the drive back to Ypres we will stop at Essex Farm Cemetery, where in 1915 Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae composed 'In Flanders Fields', the most famous poem of the war. We will also visit the ominously named Trench of Death, where the preserved trenches give a frightening impression of the four bitter years of war. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Tour to beautiful Bruges - Essex Farm Cemetery - Trench of Death

Day 7, 24 April Ypres to Amiens

Today we leave Ypres and travel south to the battlefields of the Somme. Our first stop is the battlefield of Messines, scene of a huge Allied attack in 1917 that was heralded by the explosion of 19 massive mines. We will then travel to French Flanders, and the very moving 1916 battlefield of Fromelles, where Australia lost 5533 men during its first action on the Western Front. While here we will visit the Australian Memorial Park, VC Corner Cemetery (the only all-Australian cemetery in France), the site of the recently discovered Australian mass grave at Pheasant Wood and the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery, where 250 Australian and British soldiers were laid to rest in 2010. We will also visit the new Fromelles museum, opened in 2014, which tells the story of Australia's disastrous involvement in the battle of Fromelles in 1916. Our final stop of the day is the battlefield of Bullecourt, where Australia lost 10,000 men in two great battles in 1917. We will pay our respects to them at the Slouch Hat memorial in the centre of town and the Australian Memorial Park on the site of the German front line. A packed lunch is included today, and we will enjoy dinner in our hotel on our arrival in the Somme. (B, L, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Touring of the battlefields between Ypres and the Somme including Fromelles, Vimy Ridge and Bullecourt - Picnic lunch - Amiens Hotel - Dinner

Day 8, 25 April Anzac Day

An Anzac Day we will never forget! We have an early start this morning and a short drive to the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. We will gather here with thousands of other Australians to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Villers-Bretonneux as we pay our respects to our 45,000 countrymen who were killed during fighting on the Western Front. As the sun rises over the imposing memorial to Australia's 11,000 missing from France, the strains of the Last Post will echo across the countryside, peaceful now, but the scene of a monumental Australian victory on Anzac Day 1918. After this moving ceremony we will enjoy a piece of Australia in the heart of the Somme – breakfast with the townspeople of Hamel. This town was liberated by Australian troops in July 1918, and we will be made very welcome by the local people. Following breakfast we will conduct a memorial service at the Australian Memorial Park near the town. This very special breakfast event is being conducted exclusively for Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours, and is a wonderful highlight of the tour. Later in the morning we will begin our tour of the 1916 battlefields of the Somme. Our first stop will be the imposing Lochnagar Mine Crater, which was detonated beneath the German lines on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Even though erosion has reduced the size of the crater it is still enormous - more than 100 metres across and 30 metres deep. We will then visit the village of Pozieres, scene of the most costly battle in Australia's history. 23,000 men were killed or wounded in six weeks' fighting, and we will visit the scenes of their heroic sacrifice at the 1st Division Memorial and the Windmill. We will also have time to walk the battlefield with our historian, gaining a better understanding of the fighting that led to more Australian casualties than any other battle in our history. We will enjoy lunch at a local cafe, then return to our hotel where our evening is free. (B, L)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Anzac Day Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux – Exclusive breakfast with the townspeople of Hamel - Touring of the Somme battlefields - Lunch

Day 9, 26 April Amiens to Paris

Our last day in the footsteps of the Anzacs will see us return to the 1916 Somme battlefields, where we will visit the maze of trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park. The Newfoundland Regiment was almost wiped out here on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. We will then drive past the Ulster Tower, modelled on Helen's Tower in Northern Ireland, before visiting the spectacular Thiepval Memorial, where the names of more than 72,000 British men missing from the Somme fighting are recorded. We will also see Mouquet Farm, scene of a costly advance by Australian troops in August 1916. We then return to Villers-Bretonneux, where we will visit Adelaide Cemetery, the place where Australia's Unknown Soldier lay for 75 years before being returned to Australia in 1993. We will also visit the remarkable Victoria School, home to a wonderful small Australian museum, and where a sign in the playground entreats that the students 'Do Not Forget Australia'. We will then return to the Australian National Memorial where we commemorated Anzac Day the previous day, to spend some peaceful time exploring the memorial, reading the names of the missing Australian soldiers and taking a last opportunity to pay our respects to the original Anzacs. We then farewell the battlefields and board our coach for the return trip to Paris. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner while cruising along the Seine River, a wonderful opportunity to see the landmarks of Paris bathed in light. (B, D)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Touring of the Somme battlefields - Victoria School Museum - 4-star central Paris hotel - Farewell Seine cruise (with dinner)

Day 10, 27 April Paris

Sadly our Western Front Tour ends this morning after breakfast. The journey may be over but the memories will last a lifetime. (B)

STAR INCLUSIONS: Assistance with hotel check-out

GALLIPOLI EXTENSION TOUR: After your tour and when the bulk of the Anzac Day crowds have left Gallipoli, why not fly to Turkey and join our 5 night Gallipoli Extension Tour. For full details go to our tour "Western Front 2015 Gallipoli Extension Tour".

Spend some more time in Paris before or after your tour! Pre- and post-tour accommodation is available at discounted rates.

*$250 registration price. Approximate price is $4700 per person.

*The final price will be available approximately 12 months prior. Once advised of final price if you do not wish to proceed with your booking there will be a full refund made prior to an advised date.

Ask about our airfare deals, which offer great discounts when booked in conjunction with our tours. **Conditions apply.

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It was a great trip, we had an amazing group on the tour and Mat, Richard and Kristof really did a fantastic job. A great 'taster' for going back to the area - which we will!"
- Kim Hudson
Battlefield Tours - Video Gallery
Battlefields = Mat McLachlanMat McLachlan is one of Australia's leading war historians and battlefield guides, and has spent more than a decade following in the footsteps of Australian troops on battlefields around the world. More
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