WWI centenary: Northern France opens its doors to tourists from the Allied countries

By AFP - Relaxnews | Published on May 15, 2014
  • © Regis Globe Trotter

WWI centenary: Northern France opens its doors to tourists from the Allied countries lille fr

In 2014, museums and historical sites around Europe will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. As the site of a number of decisive and devastating battles in the Great War, the regions of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy are offering special packages for tourists.

Among the millions of visitors expected to travel to northern France next year are Britons, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders and Americans whose ancestors fought alongside the French in the Great War.

To help English-speaking visitors understand the complex history of the conflict, regional tourism committees have developed a number of excursions, guided visits and itineraries in time for the First World War centenary. The regions presented these packages at the World Tourism Market in London last week.

The Pas-de-Calais region, for example, invites visitors to visit various cemeteries and memorials honouring those who perished in the Great War, including Canadian and British soldiers.

Arras, Béthune, Armentières and Cambrai are also among the battlefield sites
that are part of itineraries from regional tourism committees. The
Canadian National Vimy and Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland memorials have
specific programming for Canadians.

Indian and Portuguese troops who fought at the Givenchy-les-La Bassée front. One of the graves visited is that of John Kipling, son of author Rudyard Kipling. In the Nord region, a two-day walking trail traces the journey of the British poet Wilfred Owen, and memorial events will be held in Cateau, the site of one of the first battles to involve British soldiers.

Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The grounds of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, which include the Vimy Monument, front-line trenches and cemeteries, are open to the public year round. Access to the site and its activities are free of charge.

Visitor Centre hours of operation through December 5, 2014

Monday: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (reservations for guided tours not available on Mondays)
Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Guided Tours

Guided tours of the underground tunnels and front-line trenches are available free of charge, subject to availability. Tours are approximately 50 minutes.

The tours include uneven terrain, enclosed spaces and a descent of 10 metres underground. Each child under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult (ratio of 1:1) to enter the tunnels.

To ensure visitor safety, guided tours may be cancelled and portions of the site may be closed to the public during adverse weather conditions.

Ceremonies

Sunday, November 9, 2014 - An official ceremony of remembrance will take place at the Vimy Monument at 11:00 am.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - An informal ceremony of remembrance, led by the Canadian student guides who work at the memorial, will take place at the Vimy Monument on Remembrance Day at 11:00 am.

Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

The grounds of the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, which include the Caribou Monument, battlefield terrain and cemeteries, are open to the public year round. Access to the site and its activities are free of charge.

Visitor Centre hours of operation through December 5, 2014

Monday: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm (reservations for guided tours not available on Mondays)
Tuesday to Sunday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Guided Tours

Guided tours of the battlefield terrain are available free of charge, subject to availability. Tours are approximately 50 minutes.

To ensure visitor safety, guided tours may be cancelled and portions of the site may be closed to the public during adverse weather conditions. Appropriate footwear is strongly recommended as tours may include slippery surfaces and uneven terrain.

Ceremonies

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - A ceremony of remembrance will take place at the Caribou Monument on July 1st, 2014 at 4:00 pm to commemorate the 98th anniversary of Battle of the Somme, including Newfoundlanders who fought at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916.

Saturday, November 8, 2014 - An official ceremony of remembrance will take place at the Caribou Monument at 11:00 am.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - An informal ceremony of remembrance, led by the Canadian student guides who work at the memorial, will take place at the Caribou Monument on Remembrance Day at 11:00 am.

Things to see

Point of interest