World War Battlefields Tour of England, France, Belgium & Netherlands

A 12 day trip to Belgium, England, France & Netherlands 
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With time, the picturesque cities and perfect landscapes of Western Europe have returned after the culturally impactful and unforgettable battles of World War I and World War II. In this luxury European vacation, your custom tailored battlefields tour of England, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands takes you to poignant memorials and powerful museums, each offering a unique telling of the conflicts that changed the world. From the beaches of Normandy to the streets of Paris, commemorative tapestries to the red poppies of Flanders Field, you will come face to face with the power of the past and the beauty it can inadvertently create.  

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

London, Portsmouth, Bayeux, Caen, Amiens, Paris, La Coupole, Lille, Ypres Battlefields, Groesbeek, Amsterdam, D-Day Landing Beaches, Somme Battlefields

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Present-Day London

London is a fast-paced city encircling the banks of the River Thames. Elegant cobblestone streets lead the way to sophisticated supper clubs at the top of skyscrapers overlooking the vast cityscape. Historic pubs have roaring fires near booths that once held the likes of Charles Dickens. Wide avenues turn into narrow lanes lined by shops selling rare British books and chic clothing stores showcasing hand-sewn slacks and suspenders. An air of aristocracy continues do drift across the nearly mythological manicured walkways of Hyde Park. Your private transfer meets you at Heathrow International Airport, and escorts you to your luxurious hotel situated near the heart of London. Riverboats cruise down the Thames. Laughter spills out of comfortable pubs when locals clock out for the day. The aroma of fresh Yorkshire pudding blends in with stone-fire pizza and celebrated curries. The cosmopolitan ambiance blends with the history of the city with ease and excitement.

What’s Included: dinner, transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Different Vision of the Past

In the morning you wake up to the aroma of a full English breakfast, a plate filled with eggs, bacon, toast, beans, and mushrooms practically overflowing over the plates. The scent of herbaceous black tea filters out of cafes and teahouses, mixed with the sweet and buttery aroma of freshly baked scones. Big Ben chimes on the quarter hour, bathing the neo-Gothic façade of the House of Parliament in song. Your guide leads you into the city for an informative tour of the stunning architecture of the city and takes you into the Imperial War Museum. Stories of the First World War to the present explain how the past has shaped the present day life of the London.

A double barrel anti-aircraft gun adorns the forecourt of the museum with imposing force and frames the thin brass cupola topping the structure. The museum was created in 1917, and boasts a collection of over 10 million items relating to wars spread across the Imperial Institute in South Kensington. The interior has a large open gallery with smaller rooms tapering off of the main hall. Warplanes and model bombs hang from the rafters. Letters from World War I soldiers accompany old uniforms and rifles. You walk through a recreated trench with a Sopwith Camel plane posturing overhead, its propellers close enough to roar in your ears, providing you with the unique experience of understanding the British lives at the front lines of the First World War.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Juxtaposition of the Shores

In the morning, you find the herbaceous aroma and earthy flavor of traditional English black tea comforting. The city brims with life once more, filling the historic streets with modern life. After breakfast, you say goodbye to London and venture southbound to the Portsmouth seaside. The city itself brims with maritime heritage, housing historic ships, a submarine, and a cluster of ocean-themed museums. The Channel shines a remarkable blue in the midmorning light. You arrive at the D-Day and Overlord Embroidery Museum located on the city’s shore.

The museum highlights the city’s important role in the famous World War II invasion. An anti aircraft gun aims into the sky, marking the entrance of the museum. The interior is more than you expected, not only commemorating the role of Portsmouth, but also expressing stories from the war through the elegant and colorful art of embroidery. One such tapestry depicts Winston Churchill draped in a blue pea coat and hat, his characteristic cigar hanging from his mouth with the naval fleet situated behind him. The delicate tapestried depiction of the war juxtaposes the forceful metal jeeps and ships on display.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Opposite the Channel        

In the morning, you wake up on the far side of the channel, having taken a comfortable overnight ferry from the Portsmouth to Caen. Your guide leads you over the French countryside to the D-Day beaches near Bayeux, in the region of Normandy. At dawn on June 6, 1944, the Allied troops landed on a 54-mile stretch of the Atlantic coast, from Utah Beach to Sword Beach. You come to the bluff sanding nearly 100 feet tall, overlooking the water.

You can imagine the strong armada of 6,000 ships and boats inching closer to the shore. The cliffs you stand on once housed a German artillery bunker with 155mm guns positioned directly at the Utah and Omaha Beaches. Several bunkers still have char marks from flamethrowers. Bullet holes riddle the concrete. A large dagger-shaped statue stands as a memorial atop the German command post. There is hardly a place more emblematic of the Allies’ efforts during the Second World War, and rarely a place as moving.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, transfer, accommodation

Day 5: Going Medieval

The Norman countryside is filled with rugged cliffs, crashing waves, windswept hills, and verdant grasslands brushing sundrenched beaches. Your guide escorts you through the Memorial de Caen and on to the medieval city of Amiens. The inspiring Gothic cathedral stands at the center of the winding cobblestone streets. Imperial British troops helped liberate the town from German control during World War I, and the treasured author Jules Verne spent 20 years of his life enjoying the enchantment of the streets and buildings along the Somme River.

The river trickles between the stone canals. The impressive spires of the church tower above the surrounding pastel colored homes. The Gothic cathedral is the largest in France, with arches over the transept reaching 138 feet high. The interior is constructed with an octagonal labyrinthine shape, and paved with polished black and white tiles. The scent of frankincense lingers in the nave, and adds to the Gothic ambiance surrounding you.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Searching the Somme

You begin your day early, when the morning mist layers the countryside and the sun barely rises over the rooftop of the Amiens Cathedral. You reach the Somme Battlefields Remembrance Trail at Villers-Bretonneux, coursing along the banks of the Somme River. The mist burns away, leaving a layer of morning dew along the rural landscape of the Upper Somme Valley. The Chapel of Remembrance, also known as the Souvenir Français,” is composed of dressed stone by the Du Bos Family, who wished to commemorate their son and his comrades.

In spring and summer, sun-yellow flowers blossom near the entrance of the chapel. The simple center marks the commemoration of the battlefield that lasted from September to November of 1916. There are three separate cemeteries: one each for French, British, and German soldiers that fought in the battle and fell within the Rancourt boundaries. The serene landscape creates a tranquil memorial set against the backdrop of vibrant trees and lush grass.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 7: Inside Paris

Paris is a city with few rivals, brimming with articulate passion for life set along the winding banks of the Seine River. Notre Dame Cathedral decorates the skyline, and Sacre Coeur stands atop the Montmartre hillside like a pearled crown. The aroma of fresh baked pastries and baguettes is always present, and you can find the best foamy cappuccino from a random café in a stumbled upon neighborhood. Your guide meets you after breakfast to lead you through a fabulous tour of the city like a local.

The layers of the city are abound, from flea markets touting antique goods that date back to the Middle Ages, to hidden restaurants located on the second-story of a candy shop. Your guide takes you through the narrow alleyways of the Le Marais district, known as “Old Paris,” due to the arrondissement having the oldest buildings in the city. Your guide points out the Place des Vosages, the city’s oldest public square, and designed with perfect uniformity in the 17th century. The fountains trickle underneath the gaze of the pitched slate roofs topping red brick stone houses surrounding the square.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 8: The Edge of Lille 

The image of the Eiffel Tower fades behind the city after breakfast. You leave Paris behind, making your way to the northern city of Lille on the Belgian border. In the rugged and foliaged hillsides you find La Coupole, or “The Dome.” The bunker was erected during World War II by Nazi German forces between 1943 and 1944. The Coupole was a launch base for V-2 rockets, meant to use unmanned guided missiles directed at London and southern England. The imposing stone structure peeks out of the hillside, resembling a rugged mountaintop more than a missile silo. The bunker was abandoned in the summer of 1944, after the Normandy landings. The dark tunnel fills with echoing footsteps, directing you into the concrete dome, now filled with artifacts detailing the construction and abandonment of the facility. The structure maintains its sense of drama and the imposing subjunctive question of “What if?”

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 9: French Poppies

Outside of Lille, you step deeper into history, before the era of World War II and continuing to visit the memorials and landmarks of World War I. Essex Farm Cemetery has a large, white cross at the entrance embellished with a sword, and inscribed with the dates 1915 – 1918, encompassing nearly 65,000 square feet of land. The ambiance is serene, filled with shading trees and decorated with white stones standing out against the lush fields. It was here that Lt. Col. John McCrea wrote “In Flanders Fields,” where the soldier noted how the poppies blow, the larks sing, all while he and his compatriots roared into battle. In spring and summer, you can look beyond the memorial grounds to see endless rows of vivacious red poppies bathed in sunlight.

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 10: Far Reaches of the Netherlands

Today you pass through the varied terrain of Belgium, ranging from the rolling hillsides of the south to the smooth plains of the north, before arriving in the Dutch town of Groesbeek. Small hills and lush forests encircle the town, which have given Groesbeek a unique close knit community and particular Dutch dialect. The surrounding forests cast an earthy aroma over the town. The 82nd Airborne Division landed near the town during Operation Market Garden, an unsuccessful allied operation, and the largest airborne operation up to that point in history.

The National Liberation Museum was constructed over one of the landing sites of the operation. A tank sits atop a platform in the foreground of the museum entrance. A reconstructed war map inside the museum shows the topography as a general would have seen it, dividing the landscape into particular regions where allied or Nazi forces would have been positioned. A diorama of the Waal crossing displays an action scene of allied troops attempting to take the bridge, putting you alongside the action of the brave men at arms more than a half-century ago. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 11: Opening Amsterdam

The capital of the Netherlands has a pastel charm draped over the historic buildings, some dating back to the 13th century. The canals divide the city into neighborhoods, with some in secluded islands. Locals ride bicycles along the shaded cobblestone streets. The aromas of strong coffee and rich spices date back to the imperial strength of the Dutch East India Trading Company. Your guide meets you in the hotel after breakfast, eager to take you through the quiet grandeur of the city, from Mint Tower to Museum Square. The Anne Frank House sits calmly beside the canal with a humble statue of Anne Frank decorating the exterior.

The entire building is a monument, not just to Anne Frank and her family, but also to the cities, towns, and villages across Europe during the Second World War. You enter the office space where Otto Frank once worked. The rooms become narrow when you pass into the hidden spaces that held the Franks and two other families. The narrow stairways take you up into the bedrooms where you can see the preserved lives of the families, reading Dickens and idealizing photos of Hollywood stars pasted on the walls. When you exit the museum, the open air of the city is refreshing, and in way, sobering, a reminder of the beauty that came after the Second World War.

What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation

Day 12: Exiting Amsterdam

In the morning, the scent of rich, fresh coffee drifts across the numerous bridges connecting the neighborhoods separated by the canals. The city maintains a relaxed pace in the morning, with boats moored to the cobblestone streets wading in the soft current. The white stone sculpture of the National Monument was erected in 1956 and commemorates victims of World War II; nowadays young people often meet in front of the memorial before starting their evening, a testament to the proliferation of a happy, European lifestyle. After breakfast, your private transfer meets you at the hotel ready to escort you to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home. The contemporary history of Western Europe runs as rich and deep as the medieval past, with some scars still healing, but always showcasing the strength of humanity and the beauty that can rise out of ruin.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Price 

Your custom trip package will include accommodations, transportation within the country, guided tours and activities, unique experiences, trip planning, and 24X7 support during your trip. 

Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates!