Discover the history of Belgian and French battlefield during World War I in this 7-day cruise aboard the Panache. Visit the Belgian war sites around Ypres like Flander Fields museum, The Christmas Truce Cross and Pool of Peace crater. Cruise to France and see the battlefield memorabilia between the German and Allied forces in WW1. Tour the historic centre of Arras with its magnificent City Hall and Belfry which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Cathedrale Notre-Dame d'Amiens
Explore the picturesque river and canals of Picardy
Discover the historic war sites and memorabilia at Picardy
Guests are met at their choice of location in Bruges and transferred by private chauffeured minibus to Panache for a Champagne welcome and an introduction to your crew and barge. You might have time perhaps, for a walk or cycle ride before dinner on board.
This morning you will cruise to Lille along the beautiful River Lys near Ypres which the Australian troops called “Wipers” and the centre of intense, sustained fighting between German and Allied forces in WW1. After lunch, you can visit sites in and around Ypres, including the medieval Cloth Hall that now houses the “In Flanders Fields” museum – a moving pictorial comment on the futility of the conflict. You will also visit the Christmas Truce Cross, the Pool of Peace crater and the site where Lt. John McCrae wrote the moving poem “In Flanders Fields”, the Essex Farm dressing station. Early dinner ashore at 6.30pm in a traditional Belgian restaurant, then afterwards you will attend the moving daily Last Post ceremony at 8pm at the Menin Gate Memorial.
Today you will cruise to Arleux and the beginning of the Canal du Nord. After lunch, you can visit the National Necroplis, the largest of all French military cemeteries and wonder at the magnificent ‘Ring of Remembrance’, the recently-inaugurated International Memorial of Notre Dame de Lorette, engraved with the names of 580,000 soldiers killed in Northern France during World War One. We also head off to visit the battlefields of Arras and Vimy Ridge.
After breakfast, you will tour the historic centre of Arras with its magnificent City Hall and Belfry, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and also enjoy some time exploring the impressive traditional market. We then visit the fascinating Wellington Quarry, an underground memorial to the thousands of Allied soldiers that were barracked there in preparation for the battle of Arras in 1917. You will then return to the barge for a cruise under the New Zealand Engineers Bridge, amazingly built in a week in 1918 under continuous German fire. The canal itself was the scene of the Battle of Canal du Nord in September 1918. Being located in the heart of the battlefields, it was substantially destroyed and no attempt was made to reinstate and complete it until the early 1960s. After lunch you will come back on board, and you will continue cruising on to our evening mooring at Ruyaulcourt.
This morning, you will pass through the 3 mile Ruyaulcourt Tunnel and cruise on down towards Péronne. Later, you will head to the Somme and the site of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, where 23,000 men died on July 1st, 1916. You will visit the moving Thiepval memorial, a monument to 75,000 “missing” from this battle. There is also a visitor centre which has wonderful archival film footage and photographs from the era. Afterwards, you can visit a choice of memorials or museums, such as the Historial de la Grand Guerre, or perhaps visit the famous little town of Pozières to see the Gibraltar bunker, the ancient Windmill monument and infamous Tommy Café. Return to the barge for dinner on board.
The liberation of Villers-Bretonneux in 1918 claimed over 1,200 Australian soldiers’ lives. Every year, the ANZAC Day ceremony is held at the town’s memorial where over 10,000 Australian servicemen are commemorated. This morning you will visit this incredible village, which remains a living tribute to the Australian soldiers who liberated it. Highlights are Victoria School (this was built by money raised from children in Victoria after WW1), a fascinating and moving visit and pictorial museum in the town centre, the Australian National War Memorial and Le Hamel, memorial site of General Monash’s astounding 93 minute victorious battle over the Germans. Alternatively, there is the option to visit the nearby city of Amiens, with its magnificent Gothic cathedral. After lunch you will cruise the final leg of the journey along the Western Front to Pont-l’Éveque. Gala dinner aboard.
Day 7: Pont-l’Éveque (Noyon) | Disembark
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the Hotel Westminster in Paris.
The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.