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A World War I Cruise from Courtrai to Bethencourt-sur-Somme

7 days with European Waterways  Rating: Deluxe

River Cruise Itinerary
Sunday, Day 1 Courtrai
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. Time perhaps for a walk or cycle ride before dinner on board.

Monday, Day 2 Courtrai to Lille (Don)
This morning we 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, we 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. We 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 we attend the moving daily Last Post ceremony at 8pm at the Menin Gate Memorial.

Tuesday, Day 3 Lille (Don) to Arleux
This morning we drive to Fromelles, to visit the VC Corner cemetery at Australian memorial park, where 400 unidentified soldiers lie. The cemetery was situated in no-man's land between the Australian and German lines in 1916. This was the first scene of Australian involvement on the Western Front and you will learn just why it was so disastrous. We will also see the famous Cobbers statue and battlefield of Fromelles, and the Pheasant Wood New Cemetery Extension, opened in 2010 after 200 soldiers’ bodies were exhumed there. This afternoon we cruise to Arleux and the beginning of the Canal du Nord. Dinner on board.

Wednesday, Day 4 Arleux to Ruyaulcourt
After breakfast, we head off to visit the battlefields of Arras and Vimy Ridge. We 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 back on board, we continue cruising on to our evening mooring at Ruyaulcourt. Dinner on board.

Thursday, Day 5 Ruyaulcourt to Peronne
This morning, we pass through the 3 mile Ruyaulcourt Tunnel and cruise on down towards Péronne. Later, we head to the Somme and the site of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, where 23,000 men died in one day on July 1st, 1916. We visit the moving Thiepval memorial: a monument to 75,000 “missing” from this battle, and the visitor centre has wonderful archival film footage and photographs from the era. Afterwards, we move on to the Newfoundland Park memorial where the Newfoundland Regiment of 700 men was wiped out in just 40 minutes. We will also 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

Friday, Day 6 Peronne to Bethencourt-sur-Somme
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 we 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. After lunch we cruise the final leg of our journey along the Western Front to Béthencourt-sur-Somme. Gala dinner aboard.

Saturday, Day 7 Transfer to Paris
After breakfast, guests are transferred by private chauffeured minibus to the Hotel Westminster in Paris.
All This Included
  • Local transfer to and from the barge
  • A luxury 6 night cruise
  • All meals on board catered for by the on board Master Chef
  • An open bar 24/7 with a large range of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks
  • All wines served throughout the cruise
  • Excursions and admittance fees as per the itinerary
  • The services of 6 crew and use of barge facilities, which includes bicycles and spa pool
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: Cabin onboard Panache
  • This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change.
  • The designated meeting point is Bruges and drop off point is Paris. Other options are available for charter groups.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.

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