Western Front Tour
with Mat McLachlan battlefield tours
- Escorted by Mat McLachlan
- Custom designed itinerary
- Explore WWI sites
- Personally escorted by Mat McLachlan, the only tour he will lead in 2019
- Custom-designed itinerary visiting Mat’s favourite sites in the Ypres Salient, French Flanders and the Somme
- 8 nights’ upgraded accommodation from our regular tours – central Paris, Ypres and Amiens hotels
- Deluxe coach transportation
- Special access to exclusive sites, which has been personally organised by Mat
- Breakfast daily, 3 lunches and 4 dinners in delightful traditional restaurants
- Services of a dedicated Tour Manager and Driver
- All entrance fees as per the itinerary
- All tips to your Historian, Tour Manager and Driver
- Autographed Copy of Mat’s definitive guide to the Western Front, Walking with the Anzacs
A special note from Mat McLachlan: I have hand-designed this itinerary to explore some of my favourite places on the Western Front, places that define the Australian spirit of mateship and sacrifice. Over nine days we will visit all the key Australian battlefields of the Ypres Salient, Flanders and the Somme, and enjoy a host of special inclusions that I have personally organised. Behind-the-scenes access, special events, wonderful dining experiences and, of course, the stories of the Anzacs who served on these sacred fields will all be part of this very special tour. I look forward to showing you the battlefields.
Departs from Paris: 15 September 2019
Twin share: $5,790* per person
Single supplement: $960
Day 1 - 15 September | Paris
Welcome to this very special journey in the footsteps of the Anzacs. This evening, meet me, your Tour Manager and your travelling companions at our Paris hotel. We will enjoy a welcome dinner, and the chance to discuss our upcoming journey in the footsteps of the Anzacs.
Highlights: Welcome dinner in Paris
Day 2 - 16 September | Paris to Ypres
We will depart Paris this morning and drive north towards the Belgian border. Our destination is the town of Ypres, the scene of five huge battles during the war. On arrival we will have free time for lunch, and then enjoy a walking tour around the rebuilt town, seeing key sites associated with the town’s wartime history. As part of this walking tour I have arranged special access to the hidden rooms of the Ypres ramparts, the former headquarters of Allied generals including John Monash. These dusty vaults in the town’s walls were effectively impervious to shellfire, and have changed little since 1918.
Highlights: Walking tour with special access in Ypres
Day 3 - 17 September | The Ypres Salient
Join me today on an exploration of the Ypres Salient, one of the key Australian battlefields of the war. More than 30,000 Australians were killed or wounded in this small corner of Belgium, and today we will explore their legacy at key sites including the Passchendaele 1917 Museum, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Polygon Wood, Hill 60, Messines Ridge, the German cemetery at Langemarck and the Christmas Truce site. We will enjoy a unique lunch at the Old Cheese Factory in Passchendaele, as well as sampling their famous Passchendaele beer. During a visit to one of the most important cemeteries in the region, we will be joined by a representative from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who will discuss with us the wonderful work carried out by the Commission to remember the dead of both world wars. In the evening we will return to Ypres and make our way to the Menin Gate for the Last Post service, the most moving commemorative service on the Western Front. I have arranged for us to participate in the service, with two of our passengers laying a wreath on behalf of the group.
Highlights: Ypres Salient battlefields including Passchendaele, Hill 60, Messines and more ★ Last Post service at the Menin Gate
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 4 - 18 September | Ypres
Today will give us the chance to further explore Ypres and its surrounds, painting the complete picture of the fighting in this area and giving us access to some very special historic sites. In the morning we will drive to the town of Poperinghe, which was an important Allied support base during the war. En-route we will visit the grave of Captain Noel Chavasse, one of only three men to have been awarded the Victoria Cross twice. His grave is the only one in the world that features an image of two Victoria Crosses. In Poperinghe we will enjoy a guided tour of Talbot House, an ‘everyman’s club’ that provided respite to both officers and enlisted men during the war. We will also see the local prison, which features cells where convicted soldiers were held before being shot at dawn. The prison yard contains the original execution post, where the executions were carried out. Our next stop is Lijssenthoek Cemetery, one of the largest Commonwealth war cemeteries in the world, and the final resting place of thousands of brave soldiers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries. A change of pace brings us to the Sint Bernardus Brewery in the village of Watou, where we will enjoy a tour of the brewery and a tasting of their famous ‘Trappist’ beer, brewed by local monks for centuries. This evening we will return to Ypres, and enjoy a wonderful traditional dinner in a local restaurant.
Highlights: Poperinghe and other battlefields in the Ypres Salient
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - 19 September | Ypres to the Somme
We farewell Ypres this morning and cross back into France. Our first stop is the battlefield at Fromelles, scene of the most disastrous 24 hours in Australian military history. More than 5500 men where lost here during our first action on the Western Front, and we will pay our respects to them at the Australian Memorial Park and VC Corner Cemetery. We will also see the site of the mass grave at Pheasant Wood, and the new Pheasant Wood Cemetery and Fromelles Museum. We will then walk a short distance to a nearby German bunker, which was famously visited by Adolf Hitler during his tour of occupied France in 1940. Leaving Fromelles, we will visit the outstanding Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge, which features one of the most dramatic monuments on the Western Front, as well as a network of preserved trenches. Our final stop of the day is the battlefield at Bullecourt, where Australia lost more than 10,000 men in two great battles in 1917. Here we will see the moving Digger sculpture on the site of the Australian front line, and the Slouch Hat Memorial in the village. In the evening we will arrive in the town of Amiens, where we will check in to our hotel and enjoy dinner in a traditional French restaurant.
Highlights: Fromelles ★ Vimy Ridge ★ Bullecourt
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - 20 September | Somme 1916
Today we will explore the killing fields of the Somme from 1916, and pay tribute to the men from all nations who perished in this bloody battle. Our first stop is the Sheffield Memorial Park, which remembers men from the north of England who died on the first day of the Somme – the frontline trench that they attacked from can still be seen in the park. Next we will visit the Newfoundland Memorial Park, which contains a full sector of preserved battlefield, including British and German trenchlines, with no man’s land in between. We will then travel on to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, which records the names of more than 72,000 men missing from the Somme fighting. Our next stop is Mouquet Farm and the village of Pozieres, scene of the most costly battle in Australian military history – 23,000 men were killed or wounded here in six weeks’ of fighting. We will pay tribute to them at the 1st Division Memorial and the Windmill Memorial in the town. We will then visit Lochnagar mine crater, blown by the British on the first day of the battle and heavily fought over in the days that followed. We will return to Amiens where our evening is free.
Highlights: Somme 1916 battlefields including Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, Devonshire Trench and more
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 7 - 21 September | Somme 1918
This morning will begin with a guided tour of the magnificent Amiens Cathedral. This gothic masterpiece is larger than Notre Dame in Paris, and survived both world wars. During our tour we will see memorials to the Allied nations that defended Amiens in 1918, including Australia. Leaving Amiens, we will explore the ground where Australian forces achieved so much in 1918. Our first stop is the village of Villers-Bretonneux, captured by Australian troops in one of the finest feats of the war. This is arguably Australia’s most important battlefield on the Western Front and there is much to see here. We will visit the Australian National Memorial, which contains the names of more than 10,000 Australians missing from fighting in France. While here we will also visit the new Sir John Monash Interpretive Centre, which tells the complete story of Australia’s war on the Western Front. Next we will visit the Victoria School Museum, and see the famous sign that entreats the schoolchildren to ‘Never Forget Australia’. We will also visit Adelaide Cemetery, where Australia’s Unknown Soldier lay before being reinterred in Canberra. Leaving Villers-Bretonneux, we will visit the Australian Memorial Park at Hamel, the scene of General John Monash’s famous victory in July 1918. We will also see the site where the Red Baron was shot down by Australian troops in April 1918. We will then return to Amiens where our evening is free.
Highlights: Guided tour of Amiens Cathedral ★ Somme 1918 battlefields including Villers-Bretonneux, Sir John Monash Centre, Hamel and more
Day 8 - 22 September | Somme to Paris
Our day begins with a visit to the former Australian HQ at Bertangles Chateau, where General John Monash commanded Australian operations in the first half of 1918. I have arranged for a private tour of the chateau and grounds and, during our exclusive access, we will see the rooms where Monash conceived the great Australian victories of 1918, and stand in the spot where Monash was knighted by King George V on the chateau steps. Following this memorable walk through history, we will farewell the battlefields and return to Paris. This evening we will enjoy a farewell dinner while cruising on the River Seine, a wonderful farewell to one of the world’s great cities.
Highlights: Private access to Bertangles Chateau ★ Seine River cruise in Paris
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - 23 September | Farewell
Sadly our tour in the footsteps of the Anzacs ends after breakfast. Thank you for joining me on this very special journey.
- Advertised is land only and per person, twin share
- Single supplement does apply
- Subject to minimum numbers
- Itinerary subject to change
- Subject to availability
- Matt McLachlan Battlefield Tours T&Cs will apply
- Credit card surcharge of 1.2% may apply
*Terms and conditions apply: see RAC Travel general terms and conditions