If you are an avid student of military history, this private tour is the ultimate way to tour the battlefields. Visit all the major Australian battle sites in both the Somme and the Ypres Salient in the company of a private battlefield historian. The battlefields are only a one-hour train ride north of Paris, and we can arrange for your tour on any day that suits your travel plans.
(Please note: If you do not require the highly-specialised services of a private guide, we would recommend our Western Front Small-Group Explorer as a better option.)
Day 1: Pick-up from Amiens or Lille station – Full day touring the Australian battlefields of the Somme – Sir John Monash Centre
Day 2: Fromelles Museum – Attendance at Last Post Service at the Menin Gate
Day 3: Full day touring the Australian battlefields of the Ypres Salient – In Flanders Field Museum
Departure City: Amiens or Lille
Luxury B&B accommodation in the Somme and Ypres
Full Itinerary (Click here)
Western Front Private Tour
Day 1, Somme 1916 & 1918
Your tour begins in Amiens, in the heart of the Somme. The most convenient way to travel to Amiens is by train – it is only an hour north of Paris. You will be met by your guide at Amiens train station at 9.30am. You will then enjoy a full day visiting the sites associated with Australian courage and sacrifice on the Somme in both 1916 and 1918. Essential sites include the village of Pozieres, scene of the most costly battle in Australia’s history, where 23,000 men were killed or wounded in six weeks. Nearby is Mouquet Farm, where the Australians and Germans fought a bloody action in August 1916. Also spend time exploring the British sites associated with the Battle of the Somme, including the massive 30-meter-deep Lochnagar Mine Crater, the Thiepval Memorial (where the names of 72,000 missing men are recorded) and the preserved trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont-Hamel. Our attention will then turn to the 1918 battles on the Somme, with a visit to Villers-Bretonneux, the town that was liberated by Australian troops on Anzac Day 1918. Here we will visit Victoria School (with its wonderful small Australian museum), Adelaide Cemetery (where Australia’s Unknown Soldier lay before being re-interred in Canberra in 1993) and the imposing Australian National Memorial, where the names of nearly 11,000 Australians with no known grave in France are recorded. We will also visit the brand new Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, which tells the story of Australia’s achievements on the Western Front. We will then visit the site of the crash of the Red Baron in 1918 and the scene of the great Australian victory orchestrated by Sir John Monash at Hamel. We will then return to Amiens where you will check in to your 4-star hotel.
STAR INCLUSIONS: Pick-up from Amiens station – Full day touring the Australian battlefields of the Somme – Victoria School Museum
Day 2, Bullecourt and Fromelles
Today we will leave the Somme and drive north, passing through the Australian battlefields of 1917 and heading towards the town of Ypres, just across the Belgian border. Our first stop will be the battlefield of Bullecourt, where Australia lost more than 10,000 men in two bloody battles in April and May 1917. We will pay our respects to them at the Slouch Hat memorial in the center of town and the Australian Memorial Park on the site of the German front line. We then travel on to the very moving 1916 battlefield of Fromelles, where Australia lost 5533 men during its first action on the Western Front. While here we will visit the Australian Memorial Park, VC Corner Cemetery (the only all-Australian cemetery in France) and see the site of the recently discovered Australian mass grave at Pheasant Wood and Fromelles Museum. Crossing the Belgian border, we will visit the battlefield of Messines, where Australian and New Zealand troops played a vital role in a huge British attack in June 1917. We will arrive in the town of Ypres late in the afternoon, giving us time to check into our 4-star hotel and explore the town’s charming main square. This evening we will walk to the Menin Gate, where the names of 54,000 missing British and Commonwealth soldiers are recorded, for the moving Last Post ceremony. The Ypres fire brigade has performed this bugle ceremony every day and in all weather since the memorial opened in 1927. The only interruption was during the four years of German occupation during the Second World War – the ceremony recommenced on the day the town was liberated. (B)
STAR INCLUSIONS: Full touring of the battlefields of Bullecourt, Fromelles and Messines – Attendance at Lost Post Service at the Menin Gate – Fromelles Museum
Day 3, The Ypres Salient
The Ypres Salient was a bulge in the front line that curved around Ypres for most of the war. More than a million men were killed or wounded trying to gain control of this small patch of ground. Today we will explore the Australian battlefields in the Salient, places where the Anzacs made history in 1917. Our first stop is the impressive In Flanders Fields Museum, where a provocative collection of relics and displays chronicles the fighting in Flanders and the personal stories of the people involved. We will then visit the 5th Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood and see the graves of Private Hunter and Sergeant Calder, the two Australian soldiers who featured in Mat McLachlan’s documentary ‘Lost in Flanders’. We then get a taste of the devastation caused by four years of continuous artillery fire at the cratered landscape of Hill 60, before visiting Tyne Cot, the world’s largest Commonwealth war cemetery. Tyne Cot sits in the heart of one of the most horrific battlefields of the war — Passchendaele. Our final stop today is at the German Cemetery at Langemarck, where we will learn about the men on the other side of the line. In the late afternoon our guide will drive us back across the French border to the city of Lille, where you will be dropped at the train station for a connection back to Paris or London. (You also have the option of staying on in Ypres or Lille.) (B)
STAR INCLUSIONS: Full day touring the Australian battlefields of the Ypres Salient – In Flanders Fields Museum – Transfer to Lille train station
Your Tour Includes (Click here)
Western Front Flexi Tour
- 3 days’ fully-escorted touring of the Australian battlefields in France and Belgium with an expert War Historian
- The opportunity to discuss your battlefield travel plans with our expert team
- Comprehensive touring of all the major Australian battle sites, including many out-of-the-way sites visited only by Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours
- Travel by deluxe air-conditioned vehicle
- An insight into French and Belgian local culture
- Visits to specific cemeteries and graves (if within tour area)
- All inclusions and admissions as described in the itinerary
- Reference to period photos and maps carried by our Historians
- 3 and 4-star hotel accommodation
- Breakfast daily
Western Front Private Tour
HOW TO BOOK: Contact our reservations team on 1300 880 340 or click enquiry button below and leave your details. Deposit is 30% of selling price.
Note: This itinerary can also be reversed, operating from Lille to Amiens, an excellent option if you are catching the Eurostar to Europe from London.
Please note: Itineraries are subject to change due to operational reasons. In addition, your Historian may alter the sites visited on each day to suit local conditions.