Welcome to our NEW 2020 Canal Boat Premium Battlefield Tour series! Our summer 2020 'Australians on the Somme' WW1 Australian Battlefield 7 day canal boat cruise/tour includes: 6 nights 3-star plus accommodation, entry fees to all museum and attractions as detailed in the itinerary, most meals, 3 days amazing canal boat cruising, all premium coach transport as detailed, certified SOR Historian/Battlefield Guide, full Family History research work-up for ALL clients (if requested) - and much more!
Starting in Lille and finishing in Amiens, this tour/cruise first takes you southwards from Fromelles & Ypres and includes famous Australian, Canadian and British actions of WW1, with the cruise segment then taking you east from Amiens to Perrone as the navigable canals weave their way through a network of lakes formed centuries ago by flooded peat extractions, further enhanced by pristine neighbouring woodland and cultivation, with just the occasional village and lock to navigate.
About Backwater Tours & Cruises: And the NEW high comfort canal day boat ("Natalia") for comfort day cruising in France & Belgium
The Tour: 'AUSTRALIANS ON THE SOMME' (6N/7D) (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
Tour Code: AUSOMME207D
Date: Depart: 14 Aug 2020
Date: Returns: 20 Aug 2020
Tour Guide: Fully certified Spirit of Remembrance GBG Historian/Battlefield Guide
Price Per Person: (Share Twin/Double) TBA (*Payment in £)
Single Room Supplement: TBA (*Payment in £)
Google Tour Map
Day 1: Friday 14 August: Arrive Lille
Arrive at your leisure. Accommodation has been reserved for you at our historic hotel in Lille: Couvent des Minimes. Check in is at 1400. Should you wish an early check in simply let us know and we will organise it for an additional cost. Lille - is a vibrant and historic city full of fabulous restaurants and bars - and the shopping is great! The day and evening are at leisure - enjoy.
Accommodation: Couvent des Minimes, Lille, France (or similar)
Day 2: Saturday 15 August
After a delicious buffet breakfast we check out of our hotel and depart for our short drive to the Ypres Salient.
During our day we will have visits to:
Ploegsteert Visitor centre (entry included)
Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Zonnebeke (entry included)
Lunch at local restaurant
Hill 60 - Australian Tunnelling Corps Memoria€l
Menin Road & Polygon Wood - 5th (Australian) Division Memorial
Tyne Cot War Cemetery (3 VC winners are buried here)
Late this afternoon we check-in to our hotel in Ypres, where there is a short break so you can freshen up.
Dinner is in one of our favourite local restaurants only a short stroll away from our hotel and the famous Menin Gate.
This evening we experience the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony. Walk back to our hotel or explore Ieper and its interesting nightlife.
Accommodation: Novotel Ieper Centrum Flanders Fields Hotel, Ieper (or similar)
Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Day 3: Sunday 16 August
After an early breakfast and checkout we depart in our coach to the battlefield of Fromelles, where we learn about the tragic battle of 19 - 20 July 1916, where Australia incurred the greatest loss in its military history.
At Fromelles we will visit:
VC Corner Australian Cemetery
Pheasant Wood military cemetery (Fromelles) (Including the Fromelles WW1 Museum) We then stop in for a quick visit (*time permitting) to the breathtaking Canadian WW1 Memorial at Vimy Ridge, just outside of Arras.(Spirit took 600 people here for the 100th anniversary on 9th April 2017), and learn how an all Canadian assault on the *9th April 2017 (*Vimy Ridge Day) took this impregnable fortress. (In our opinion, this is one of the most aesthetically beautiful and inspirational war memorials in the world.) The 9th April is equivalent to all Canadians as Anzac Day (25 April) is to all Australians. We then travel onto to Beaurains (outside Arras) and our short visit to the brand new (opened June 2019) CWG Experience (Commonwealth War Graves) where we will be able to watch the Commission's team of skilled craftsman at work, taking a tour of their workshops and observing them as they continue their century long task of caring for some of the world's most impressive and recognisable monuments and memorials as they have done for the last 100 years.
Leaving the CWG Experience, we then travel into the beautiful small city of Arras nearby. Arras was all but destroyed in WW1 with the Front Line running through the centre of the city itself. Now completely rebuilt, Arras is an architectural gem and the location nearby for the amazing Wellington Tunnels (named after Wellington in NZ). It was here the WW1 NZ tunnellers carved out of these 2000 year old caves massive secret caverns and accommodation facilities for up to 20,000 men to live in until the allies launched their suprise attack on the German positions on April 9, 1917.
We then visit the Arras main town square for lunch, before leaving for our next stop and our hotel for the next 3 nights in Amiens. This afternoon and evening is free to wander this beautiful small city. We strongly suggest that you visit the breathtaking and very famous World Heritage 13th century Notre-Dame Amiens Cathedral where a very special Australian section is inside the cathedral. Dinner is not included tonight to allow you to further discover the myriad of lovely restaurants and bars in this beautiful city.
Accommodation: 3+* Hotel Amiens
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4: Monday 17 August (Cruise Day)
After breakfast we then depart by coach for Villers-Bretonneux and the Australian National Memorial and also a visit to the Victoria School and the amazing Sir John Monash centre. Villers-Bretonneux was the crucial location of the last line of defence against 'Operation Michael' where the German 100 day offensive nearly broke through the Allied defences - which would have then enabled them to negotiate a treaty to end the war on their own terms. The battle of Villers-Bretonneux was scene of what most regard as Australia's finest and most important victory of the war when in the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day 1918 they stopped the German advance on Amiens and thus changed the course of the war. After Villers-Bretonneux we then have a quick visit to nearby Le Hamel, scene of one of Sir John Monash's greatest victories - a battle fought and won in 90 minutes.
After our visit to Le Hamel we then travel back to Amiens where we meet up with our delightful canal cruise boat for this afternoon - and the next 2 days "Natalia" and set off eastward towards Corbie. We are welcomed aboard by the crew and enjoy a lovely fresh French 'boulangerie' style lunch complete with free wine, soft drinks & tea and coffee.
*************Itinerary to be finished from here onwards *****************
Day 5: Tuesday 18 August (Cruise Day)
Day 6: Wednesday 19 August (Cruise Day)
Day 7: Thursday 20 August (Finish Tour)
On Board Canal Boat Cruise Facilities:
The cruise boat has been designed to comfortably accommodate a normal size coach-load of passengers in lounge-standard seating, with additional seating outside for those wanting to take in the views and fresh air. There are 6 bikes on board free of charge for anyone who would like to ride the towpath. The boats has two WC/washrooms and a galley serving beers and wines. Tea, coffee and drinking water are always available at no charge. There is no smoking on board.
Environmental Policies: Canal Cruising
The cruise boat is hybrid-engined (electric propulsion) and normally charges overnight from shore supply. Its diesel engines are only used if battery power is exhausted, so most of the time you can look forward to silent cruising free of exhaust fumes. The saloon roof is bedecked with solar panels which reinforce battery endurance and support the boat's air conditioning system.
A strict waste-avoidance policy is also in operation. We try to completely avoid the use of single-use plastics and we operate to a responsible recycling code. All meals and drinks on board are served using normal crockery, cutlery and glassware. Our crew also has a brief to support the recovery from rivers and canals of floating litter whenever this is practicable.
* Important: Itinerary Changes:
(Please note: the itinerary is subject to change at the total discretion of the guide or Spirit of Remembrance - in particular regarding events that directly affect the present itinerary as shown - before or during the tour that are - or could be beyond our control.)
Tour Costs Include:
Family Historian research for client family members
6 nights accommodation in 3*plus hotels
Highly experienced (and qualified) Battlefield Historian/Guide(s)
Local guides where necessary
All museum/exhibition/ admission/entrance fees for all venues/museums as detailed in the itinerary
Premium coach travel throughout tour
All canal boat cruising segments
Breakfasts Daily (European-style breakfasts) Day 2 - Day 7
All lunches a shown in itinerary
All dinners as shown in itinerary
All Farewell dinner(s) if shown as such in itinerary
Special deluxe souvenir colour tour booklet
High quality commemorative clothing: hat & backpack
SOR earphone headphones (earbuds)
SOR baggage tags
SOR commemorative pen
Tour Costs do NOT Include:
Lunches, dinners, refreshments and beverages not detailed above
Tips, porterage and all personal extras
Airfares/Transport/Train travel to and from start and end point of tour
Travel/Cancellation/Medical Insurance. (*YOU must have valid travel insurance for us to travel on the tour)
Passport & related visa/documentation fees
Any optional excursion(s) not specifically stated as included in the tour cost
Items of a personal nature