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Canadian European Battlefields, WWI & WWII: Normandy, Somme, Ypes Salient, Vimy Ridge, ‘Operation Market Garden’


Juno Beach, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele,Beaumont-Hamel, The Somme… Canadian Involvement in WWI and WWII

9 days/8 nights

Overviewicon Itineraryicon



This tour begins in Paris and finishes in Amsterdam. SGT recommends enhancing your touring adventure by spending some independent pre/post-tour time exploring these wonderful capital cities independently.


This is a sample itinerary and can be customized to best suit your individual wishes. Rates are based upon vehicle and guide hire per day, number of touring days, number of guests in the party and your chosen level of accommodation. Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.

Day 1

We depart our Paris meeting point at approximately 9am, making our way to Normandy via a rare bit of motorway driving. We have today and tomorrow to explore and pay our respects to those brave soldiers who fought in the Normandy Beach Landings.


Juno Beach is of course a main site that will be visited. We can follow the battle from the initial beach landing to Caen, finding memorials and plaques en route. Appropriate Canadian interest sites for our time in Normandy include Bene Cemetery, Carpique, and the town of Courseulles-sur-Mer where troops engaged in house-to-house combat before liberating it. There’s Authie, where the first tank battles took place, where Kurt Meyer’s 25th SS Panzer Grenadiers encircled the Royal Winnipeg Rifles at Putot-en-Bassin, and the terrible experience at Abbaye d’Ardenne.



Day 2

Another full day exploring the Normandy Beaches. In addition to the poignant battlefields, as guests wish, some time to see the medieval city of Bayeux. This beautifully restored city offers the famed tapestry, a fine cathedral and several lovely shops and cafes.


NIGHTSTOP Bayeux, same property as above

Day 3

This morning, discuss Operation Spring which, other than the Dieppe raid, was the Canadians Army’s costliest single operation of the Second World War.


Our main destination today is Dieppe, where, on 19 August 1942, five thousand troops of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, along with a thousand British troops, attacked. The purpose was to make a successful raid on German-occupied Europe over water but the results were disastrous. We’ll visit the Canadian cemetery and actual beach battle site.


NIGHTSTOP Amiens area

Day 4

Turning our attentions to WWI, today we concentrate on The Somme battlefield. Fought on these chalky fields in 1916, the Battle of the Somme was one of the most costly. Almost 60,000 men fell on the very first day. Amazingly, even after ninety + years, the area still yields up from its soils the remnants of man and machine. There are still areas one cannot walk through because of unexploded ordinance. One point of our day sure to be indelibly imprinted in the visitor’s memory will be our walking tour of the amazingly well-preserved battlefield at Beaumont-Hamel, site of the Newfoundland Regiment’s bloody loss of innocence. Also, Courcellete and the town and museum at Albert as time permits.


NIGHTSTOP Amiens area, same property as above

Day 5

Today will take us to Vimy Ridge, where it is generally agreed the Canadian Nation was forged over Easter, 1917. Here, subject to opening conditions, you’ll have a guided tour the underground tunnels. You’ll hear in detail how this tremendous victory was achieved, and see the magnificent memorial.


Later, we’ll continue our way north into Belgium and begin to explore the sites around the Ypres Salient, perhaps the bloodiest of all Imperial held lines in the First World War. The many sites that make this such a special area for Canadians include Hooghe, John McRea’s Essex Farm, Hill 60, Passchendaele, Hill 62 and Tyne Cot Cemetery.


This evening, the moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menen Gate in Ypres.



Day 6 ND

A day ‘on leave’ to explore the town of Ypres. Your guide will be on hand for advice and an orientation walking tour. Ypres is home to a lively Grote Markt with many restaurants, cafes and pubs so a perfect place for some relaxing time sampling the local cuisine, world famous beers and to savor your ‘Olde Worlde’ surroundings. There is the wonderful In Flanders Field Museum and, like most Belgian towns, there is no shortage of chocolatiers and quaint local shops too!


Dinner is not included tonight for flexibility’s sake.


NIGHTSTOP Ypres, as above

Day 7

We turn our attentions back to sites of the Ypres Salient, a place that struck fear into the Great War ‘Tommy’ for being the hottest spot on the 70 mile front line. Over a quarter of a million men gave their lives to hold this last bit of Belgium from the Germans. Although history records three great battles fought at Ypres, it was in fact a constant battle against shell, bullet, bomb, gas, water and rats.


Later, we will make our way into Antwerp, following the Battle of the Schelde. Canadian involvement here, along with the Polish troops, was crucial in opening up the river and liberating Antwerp and surroundings.


Antwerp itself is a charming city with a lovely Grote Markt and a stunning cathedral. Tonight, dinner offers the opportunity to sample some local Belgian cuisine such as mussels and frites or a hearty Flemish stew – Carbonnade (beef) or Waterzooi (seafood.)



Day 8

The campaign in Holland was all about bridges and river crossings. Today “A Bridge Too Far” and the Airborne Museum in Oosterbeek. In Groesbeek, there’s the Canadian Cemetery near the landing zones of the American 82nd Airborne as we begin our investigation of Operation Market Garden.


NIGHTSTOP: Arnhem area

Day 9

Today we continue to relive the heart-wrenching disappointment that was the failure of Operation Market Garden. Discover the ongoing gratitude of the local population for the Canadians in Arnhem and beyond, when II Corps advanced into northern Germany, liberating Dutch cities on the way and putting an end to the starvation of the Hunger Winter of 1945.


We will arrive into Amsterdam early evening, where our tour concludes.


We recommend spending some time in this famed Dutch city. Amsterdam is a place where you can turn your attentions to every day life during the war. Here is the Dutch Resistance Museum, which recreates the atmosphere of the streets of Amsterdam during the German occupation and the Anne Frank House Museum. The city is easy to navigate via public transport, either tram or canal ferry/cruise. There’s simply so much to see and do – the Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum for the finest collection of Dutch old masters such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Vermeer among others; there’s the flower market, Dam Square, Rembrandt House…Garden fans may enjoy the immaculate eighteenth-century garden at the Willet-Holthuysen Museum. Where to begin?!



Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.


Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.


Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.


This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.


Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability. 


SGT is at your service!

Mapicon Why SGT?icon

The Special Group Tours Advantage is our unique and intimate understanding of what you expect traveling in the UK and Europe. We have not only visited but have spent many years living in and loving the cultures you will experience down the ‘B’ Roads and off the beaten track. We have worked with local suppliers and our guide/companion team for over a decade, creating unique special interest itineraries. Special Group Tours offers our “insider” knowledge to you.


The SGT Small Group Touring Concept is traveling with just 4 - 14 guests per departure. It is our aim to introduce you to the 'real' country and its people, not just ticking the boxes of a standardized route and treating you as an individual and not a number. Our concept allows for a leisurely touring pace and flexibility to get off the beaten track to discover hidden gems. Of course you'll see the major sites but so much more too!


At Special Group Tours, it is our priority that you have the most enjoyable holiday possible. You deserve it!

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