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The Poppy Trail Historic Battlefield Tour

England, France and Belgium
This journey of remembrance and discovery will explore poignant sites and unforgettable moments from both WWI and WWII.
We begin in London and finish in Paris, and en route we will visit the D-Day Landing beaches of Normandy, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and the Flanders Fields, revisiting some remarkable tales of bravery and courage. In London we will ride in a beautifully restored pre-war double decker learning about life and survival in London during the Blitz (along with some time at leisure).  After discovering Portsmouth Harbour, we cross the English Channel to Normandy, and follow in the footsteps of our bravest soldiers on the most famous battlefields, as well as enjoying the serene towns of Arras and Ypres. We conclude our journey in the City of Lights, enjoying some of Paris’ most iconic sites before flying home to Canada.

Tour Highlights:

   • Thames River Cruise
   • London-at-War Coach Tour
   • Portsmouth D-Day Museum and Historic Dockyard including the HMS Victory and Mary Rose
   • Pegasus Bridge 
   • Normandy’s Landing Beaches including Dieppe 
   • Juno Beach Centre  
   • Disembarkation Museum of Arromanches
   • The Somme Battlefields
   • Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park 
   • Wellington Tunnel in Arras
   • Vimy Ridge Tour of the Tunnels and Trenches Memorial
   • In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres
   • Passchendaele
   • Illumination Cruise on the Seine River
   • Paris City Tour

* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for London.
After arrival we will unwind with a relaxing cruise from Runnymede, and enjoy classic views of Windsor Castle as well as a traditional cream tea. Then we proceed to our central London hotel. Tonight is our Welcome Dinner.
As bombs fell during WWII thousands of Londoners volunteered to fight fires and save lives. Our ‘London at War’ tour (aboard a vintage double decker bus) provides a unique insight into life in London during the two World Wars. Afterwards there will be some time at leisure to explore London on your own.
We travel to Portsmouth and visit the D-Day Museum, which tells the story of the D-Day Landings in WWII and features the magnificent Overlord Embroidery - a tribute to the heroism of those who took part in the operation. We will also explore Historic Portsmouth Harbour, home to the HMS Victory - the Royal Navy's most famous warship, and The Mary Rose - flagship of the English Tudor navy of King Henry VIII.
We take the ferry to the port of Caen, Normandy, to visit the Pegasus Bridge where the 6th British Airborne landed, captured and liberated the first house in Europe, the Café Gondree. After our visit of the museum here we will proceed to our hotel for our first dinner in France.
We begin at the Canadian Memorial Garden in the Abbaye d’Ardenne, and la Verrieres Ridge to view the area where the “Black Watch” suffered many casualties during “Operation Spring”. Then we visit the Juno Beach Center, dedicated to the 3rd Division landings as well as Canada’s full involvement during World War II. Afterward, we will visit Queens Own Rifles House on the beach of Bernières-sur-Mer and the Canadian Military Cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer.
We continue our focus on the Normandy Invasion with a visit to Pointe du Hoc, where the cratered landscape caused by the German battery can be observed. Then we see Omaha Beach and the American Military Cemetery to discover the harsh difficulties in landing on the beach. This will be followed by a visit of the German battery at Longues-sur-Mer, which is still relatively intact. Later we visit the Disembarkation Museum and Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches before returning to our hotel.
We travel to the coastal town of Dieppe to visit the Dieppe Canadian Cemetery, before travelling to Green Beach at Pourville to view the Red and White landing beaches on the Dieppe seafront, as well as the Canadian Memorial Museum. Later at the Blue Beach in Puys we view the gun emplacements on the cliff tops which were responsible for the terrible Canadian casualties. Then we travel to Arras for a 3-night stay.
Our focus switches to WWI as we explore the Somme, starting in Albert and the Musee des Arbris. Then we visit the Somme Battlefields, the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval, and one of the only intact First World War monuments - the memorial park at Beaumont Hamel. The park (maintained by Canada) remains as it was during the Battle of the Somme, and is dedicated to the Royal Newfoundland and Labrador Regiment which lost many men on that first day of battle.
We travel the short distance to Vimy Ridge. It was on Hill 145, in April 1917, that Canada truly became a nation in the eyes of the world. Canadian troops stormed the ridge after all other allied forces failed to do so. We will tour the tunnels, trenches and memorial, as well as the interpretation center. This afternoon we tour the Wellington Tunnels, used by the Allies to support the Western Front close to the town. There will be free time to explore Arras, Place des Heroes as well as the Belfroi.
We travel to Lens and the new Hill 70 Memorial, dedicated to commemorate one of Canada's major victories on the Western Front after the victory at Vimy. We then proceed to Ypres, where we visit the “In Flanders Fields” Museum.
This morning we’ll orient ourselves with the Ypres Salient Battlefields with a visit to Essex Farm, where John McCrae wrote the famous poem “In Flanders Fields”. Then we visit the German cemetery of Langemark - resting place of over 44,000 young Germans (many 'student volunteers'). We continue on to Vancouver's Corner to see the haunting memorial of the Brooding Soldier at Saint Juliaan. This afternoon an optional tour to Dunkirk will be offered. This evening you can witness the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, which records over 54,384 names of missing troops during the Ieper salient battles.
We begin with a visit to the Canadian Memorial at Crest Farm, the objective of the 1st Canadian Corps on Passchendaele Ridge. Next we visit the largest Commonwealth Cemetery at Tyne Cot, where the Canadians first began the Third Battle of Ypres to take Passchendaele. The Passchendaele Museum features an actual battle ground with trenches and German defenses. We continue to Hill 62 to view a well preserved area which was part of the original Canadian Front Line (also known as Sanctuary Wood). We finish with some free time in Ypres to relax or to buy excellent Belgian chocolate.
We travel to Paris, and we’ll have some free time to stroll in the quaint quarter of our centrally located hotel before checking in. Tonight’s dinner will be at a charming restaurant followed by a cruise along the Seine River.
On our city tour of Paris we will see the Eiffel Tower, Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, l’Arc de Triomphe, Les Champs Elysées, Notre-Dame Cathedral, St-Germain des Prés and more! The afternoon is free in Paris, and this evening is our Farewell Dinner.
A warm farewell to our new friends as we fly home.
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