Home > Trips > WW1 Western Front: from the Somme to the Belgium Flanders

WW1 Western Front: from the Somme to the Belgium Flanders

8 day(s) | from 970.00 €

Moderate

Themes

Food & Wine
History

Included

7 nights with breakfast, maps, road-book with tourist information, daily luggage transfer, 7/7 days assistance and local tax

Transport

Paris-Amiens 1h15 by train
Lille-Paris 1h by train
Train to hotel: 5min walk

When

Every Sunday from April to October

Any other day of the week +60€/pers

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  • Description
  • From Amiens to Ypres, you can trace the First World War’s western front line. Here, you will discover the French department known as the Somme, as well as the Northern region of Belgium known as Flanders.

    Both these areas of outstanding, natural beauty are steeped in history and rich in tradition.

    How can one describe the wonderful people from this part of Northern France, whose reputation of a warm welcome and their generosity are renown throughout France!

    Your taste buds will not be disappointed either! The region’s cooking is heartwarming and, naturally, only the finest quality products are used. The excellent draught beers are always fresh.

    On the subject of ingredients … here are the proposals for our new cycle tour, which, I’m sure will both delight and exceed all personal expectations.

    The countryside and accompanying discoveries are very varied. Each day is different.

    A day’s cycle tour, using only the highest quality cycles, ranges between 40 and 50kms. in length and will include a certain number of some moderate climbs.

    This particular tour is aimed at everyone able to ride a two-wheeled cycle with confidence.

    For those cyclists looking for an extra challenge, trips of approximately 70kms can also be arranged!

Highlights

  • Discovering Amiens and it's magestic Cathedrale classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
  • Cycling on the Somme territory between landscape and history
  • Discovering most of the museums and war memorials (Villers Bretonneux and it's wonderful australian memorial, the impressive edifice of Vimy, Passchendaele ...)
  • The Last Post ceremony at the Menun gate in Ieper
  • Lille, the capital of the Flanders
  • Taste the cooking specialities of the north France and Belgium (waffles, beer, french fries, chocolates... miam-miam!)

Bike tour itinerary : WW1 Western Front: from the Somme to the Belgium Flanders

  • D1 
  • Arrival in Amiens
    • Your hotel is located in the centre of the town, close to the Cathedral. This beautiful edifice is the largest example of Gothic architecture in France and is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The Cathedral boasts the highest nave (in France?) and could easily accommodate Notre Dame twice over. Miraculously, the Cathedral survived the First World War. Visitors will notice a number of commemorative plaques, in memory the soldiers from the Allied front.

      The city was home to Jules Verne for a number of years. It was here that the writer wrote most of his novels.

      Amiens is a very pleasant city, where you can take time out to stroll along the canal path before you begin your cycle tour.

  • D2 
  • Amiens to Albert
  • 51km / Bed & Breakfast
    • After having collected your cycle, you head eastwards, following the river Somme. After about 120 kms. you arrive at Villers Bretonneux  where, in 1918, between the 24th and the 26th April, the Australian, expeditionary army corps successfully stopped the advancing German troops and, as a consequence, prevented the city of Amiens being taken. The Australian National Memorial and the Franco-Australian Museum, which was established within the Victoria school, offer the visitor a fascinating, detailed historical insight into these events. 

      Continuing eastwards, you cross the Hamel battlefield, in order to gain access to the other side of the river Somme at Cérisy. You can enjoy the magnificent river views, along the road leading to Albert.

      Albert was the epicentre of the great battle of the Somme and was also the principal, industrial town in the Ancre Valley. The Somme museum, which was established in an anti-aircraft underground shelter, retraces military life during the First World War.

  • D3 
  • Albert to Arras
  • 45km / 62km / Bed & Breakfast
    • Following the main road out of the town, you head North, towards the Ancre Valley, before climbing towards Thiépval Ridge. The first large offensive was launched on the 1st of July, 1916 and involved 20,000 men from the British Reserve army. It was known as “the bloodiest day in British military history.” Thiépval was liberated three months later on the 27th of September 1916.

      You pass the Belfast Tower, which was erected in 1921, in memory of the Ulster Battalion, which so courageously fought that day at Thiépval. After crossing Ancre, you arrive at Beaumont-Hamel Park, the 74 acre memorial site dedicated to the Newfoundland regiment, which was all but annilihated, in the space of thirty minutes, after the German soldiers opened fire on them.

      A little further on, you arrive at the German cemetery – Fricourt and two memorial sites: one dedicated to the South African regiment and known as Delville Wood and the other dedicated to the New Zealand Division called Longueval.

      The tour then takes you to the village of Pozières, where the Australian regiment, completely exhausted by the relentless artillery attacks, were eventually relieved by the Canadians. The names of 14,000 soldiers are engraved on the cemetery walls here.

      You then leave the Somme department and cycling for a further 20kms. through countryside, you reach the commune of Arras, the Artois capital.

      Arras, with its Flemish Baroque style, has a long and established reputation for its superb draperies and tapestries. The city’s wealth and influence, which was particularly acquired during the Middle Ages, still remains today.

      Your hotel is ideally situated, in the heart of the city. The architecture, dating from the Flemish Baroque period through to the Art Deco style, will charm and captivate you. Two sites, which have been classified by UNESCO, as world class heritage sites, are the Belfry and Vauban’s citadel and merit a visit.

      At the end of the day, you can take some time out to relax at one of the cafés in the celebrated Place des Héros.

  • D4 
  • Arras to Béthune
  • 52km / Bed & Breakfast
    • Following the river Scarpe, you then head North for about 20 kms, until you reach Vimy. On April the 17th 1917, this large park became the centerpiece of a ferocious battle between the German army and the Canadian troops; the latter losing more than 11,000 soldiers. There are those who say that “modern day Canada” was born in the trenches at Vimy. The impressive Canadian National Vimy Memorial was built on Vimy Ridge and commemorates all the Canadians who lost their lives here.

      After a pause at Souchez village, you climb Lorette’s Hill where, in May 1915, French and German troops fought to gain control of Artois. The cemetery, Notre Dame de Lorette, where 40,000 soldiers found their final resting place, is considered the most important French military cemetery of today.

      Continuing towards the North, you cross a section of mining area and arrive in Béthune, where you will spend the night.

      Historically, Béthune has always been considered a bourgeois town, accumulating her wealth from neighbouring agricultural land, from a prolific textile industry dating back to the Middle Ages and from a thriving mechanical/chemical industry.

      During the First World War, almost half of the town was completely destroyed. Although Béthune managed to escape German occupation, the town centre was badly bombed on May 20th 1918 and with the exception of the belfry, it was almost entirely destroyed.

      Since 1964, the town has been twinned with Hastings, in England, where another great battle took place and a certain William the Conqueror was crowned the new King of England.

  • D5 
  • Béthune to Ieper
  • 61km / 82km / Bed & Breakfast
    • Welcome to Flanders or “the flat land”; the title of one of Jacques Brel’s songs, where he describes the flat landscape, void of mountains.

      Gastronomically, the region’s specialities reflect the celebrated reputation of its people. Their warmth! You will delight in sampling regional dishes such as Carbonade Flamande, Maroilles, Welsh Potjevleesch or Waterzooi; all accompanied by freshly made chips and a quality beer, from one of the neighbouring abbeys.

      Flanders was formally one of the richest and most coveted of French provinces. It was also one of the most densely populated. The province played a very significant role during the French Industrial Revolution.

      If you opt for the longer of the two cycle trips, you will arrive at Fromelles, a small village which became the centre of combat between the Commonwealth (principally Australians) and the Germans. Between July 19th and 20th 1916, around 8500 soldiers were killed.

      Rejoining the shorter tour, you now head towards Bailleul, the capital of the ‘Monts de Flandres’ – a series of small hills which rise to about 160m. From the top, there are magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.

      You can take some time out to sit and relax in one of the region’s typical inns.

      Also worthy of a visit is the “Abbaye du Mont des Cats”, where you can delight in sampling the local cheese and beer, produced by the Trappist monks themselves.

      The Franco-American writer, Marguerite Yourcenar grew up here, in this charming, picturesque region.

      You then cross in to Belgium and head towards Ypres, where you will spend the next two nights.

  • D6 
  • Ieper loop
  • 46km / Bed & Breakfast
    • In October 1914, the Western Front battle lines halted several kilometres from the town of Ypres and formed a salient along the German lines. This wealthy, Flemish town witnessed five different battles, where soldiers from all corners of the world joined forces to take part in the combat.

      This day’s touring will retrace these historic events from Zonnebeke to Langemark Poelkapelle and including Passchendaele. More than 300,000 allied soldiers, 250,000 of them from the Commonwealth, died during these ferocious battles. There are more than 170 cemeteries in the surrounding countryside.

      Returning to Ypres, it is really difficult to imagine that this medieval town was almost entirely destroyed at the end of the First World War.

      Ypres’ prosperity really developed during the Middle Ages, when it was known as the “The Craftsman’s Textile Capital.” The Tapestry/Textile Market Hall, one of the largest, Gothic-style buildings in Europe, was unfortunately destroyed during the German air raids but has been identically restored to its former glory.

      A visit to the museum: “In Flanders’ Fields”, allows the visitor the possibility of retracing the life of a soldier or a civilian during this tumultuous time.

      Ypres also boasts an abundance of fine, chocolate producers, as well as several delicious, local specialities: waffles, Tapjesvlees, Patte de Chat and Cuberdon.

      At eight o’clock, in the evening, at the Menin Gate (la Porte de Menin, in Dutch - Menenpoort) there is an event which perhaps no-one should miss. Every day, since 1927, the bugles from the firemen’s brigade sound the “Last Post” in memory of the Commonwealth troops.

  • D7 
  • Ypres to Lille
  • 40km / Bed & Breakfast
    • After enjoying a hearty, Flemish breakfast, you then head South East, crossing the Flemish countryside, until you arrive at the French border town of Warneton. Here, you join the Lys canal and follow the original canal towpaths, from where you can watch the canal barges, as they transport their goods between Paris and Rotterdam.

      Each lock there is a small town. Take time out to relax at Quesnoy-sur-Deûle, a charming, little border town or enjoy a tea on one of the café-barges at Wambrechies.

      You enter the city of Lille (Rijsel in Flemish) by way of the magnificent citadel; a military edifice built by Vauban during the 17th century and aptly named the “Queen of the Citadels.”

      Your hotel is situated in the very heart of the city, in the ‘Grand’ Place’. The old city of Lille, the opera and the railway station are all within easy walking distance. Lille, a European capital and the fifth largest urban area in France, enjoys a wonderfully rich and influential history.

      Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille. His birthplace is open to the public and definitely merits a visit. Louis Pasteur also spent a part of his esteemed life in Lille.  

      If time allows, the jewel of the North, is surely worth an extra day’s stay

  • D8 
  • Trip ends in Lille
    • After breakfast.

Prices 2018

  • Standard Accommodation970 €
  • Comfort Accommodation1220 €
  • Standard Single room sup.300 €
  • Comfort Single room sup.380 €
  • Solo traveller200 €
  • Hybrid Bike160 €
  • Road Bike from240 €
  • E-Bike240 €

All prices are per person. Accommodation price is on a 2-person basis.
The list of hotels included in this trip or details about your bikes are available upon request via our Contact Page.

Hotels

  • Albert Le Picardie ***Standard
  • Amiens Le Prieuré ***Comfort
  • Lille Le Bellevue ****Comfort

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