The Ted Barris D-day 80th Anniversary Tour
NORMANDY AARAS YPRES BRUSSELS
The Vimy Interpretive Centre in the early fall season
May 15-26, 2024
Join historian & bestselling author Ted Barris, Jayne MacAulay and Ian Cowan as we visit the famous beaches where Canadians stormed ashore in Normandy 80 years ago to begin the liberation of Europe in 1944. Our trip also returns to Dieppe, scene of Operation Jubilee in 1942, and then to historic sites of the Great War, including Vimy and Beaumont-Hamel in France, and finally Canadian battlegrounds and memorials of the Ypres salient (Cloth Hall, Essex Farm, Vancouver Corner, Menin Gate and Passchendaele).
To avoid anniversary crowds and to ensure that our
travellers get the most from the tour, our D-Day 80th
Anniversary Tour will run from May15-26, 2024, just prior to the busiest D-Day anniversary first week of June. By visiting in May 2024, we’ll ensure our group enjoys a more leisurely trip with better access to these iconic locations.
There's something about this memorial that has us taking a picture every time we visit, I have the same picture on my phone for years - there's just something about this memorial. As tour guides, we are constantly in awe of the place.
Ted Barris CM is a Canadian writer, journalist, professor and broadcaster. He writes a weekly column, "The Barris Beat", and is a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail and the National Post. His non-fiction works focus on Canada's military heritage. Barris has authored 18 books.
Ian Cowan is the CEO and founder of Connection Custom Travel and The Battlefield Tours for over 34 years. He began encouraging and escorting Canadian veterans and their families to the Battlefields of France & Belgium in 1986, and has gone on to lead incredible programs for Canadian families, choirs, performance groups, government associations, student groups, and others who have a common desire to understand the history of Europe and the UK.
The Ted Barris D-day 80th Anniversary Tour
Destinations: Belgium & France
Tour Dates: May 15th - May 26th, 2024
Tour Map & Outline
Explore by scrolling through the cities we will be visiting, and zoom in to get familiar with where we will be visiting on this tour.
A visit to Vimy Ridge
Explore the Canadian and American beaches of the famous Normandy D-Day invasions in WW2
Beaumont Hamel: The largest fully intact, First World War battlefield in the world. It has been kept as it was and maintained by Canada
Visit the seaside town of Dieppe and take in where so many Canadians fought and died in what was called Canada's largest casualty day in WW2
Witness the breathtaking Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate led by the dedicated Ypres Fire Department & World Community honouring those who fought in the Great War
View the German Cemetery of Langemark as well as Lochnagar, one of the Great War's largest craters
Day 1 Wednesday, May 15, 2024 Overnight air travel from Toronto to Paris.
Day 2 Thursday, May 16, 2024 Upon our arrival in Paris, we’ll board our private coach and travel north to Compiègne Forest, where Allied and German leaders officially signed the Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice ending the First World War and where in 1940 Hitler forced the French to surrender to Nazi Germany in the Second World War. The museum showcases the replica Armistice Wagon and other artifacts. Our coach then makes its way to Normandy and arrival at our hotel for our traditional Welcome Dinner and stay for the next four nights. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 3 Friday, May 17, 2024 During our first full day along the D-Day Invasion area, we’ll depart the hotel for the British (Sword Beach) sector, where we’ll visit Pegasus Bridge Museum, which displays the actual bridge that British infantry (delivered there by gliders) captured just minutes after midnight on D-Day morning. What most of the visitors to the museum don’t realize – but, of course, we do – many of the objectives there on June 6 were captured by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion who jumped into Normandy with the British Airborne. Following lunch (on own) among the cafés of downtown Ouistreham, we’ll travel to the other British D-Day sector and visit the recently inaugurated British Normandy Memorial offering spectacular views of Gold Beach. Then, on to Arromanches and the renovated Invasion Museum, which showcases one of the wonders of the invasion – the creation of the artificial Mulberry Harbour. On the heels of the invasion forces, Allied ships towed 115 concrete caissons (many still plainly visible off the Arromanches beach) from England to form a five-mile breakwater to enclose an instant harbour for the processing of millions of tons of supplies to keep the momentum of the invasion moving inland. We finish the day enjoying supper (on your own) in restaurants along the Arromanches seaside. Return to our hotel. Meal inclusions: Breakfast.
Day 4 Saturday, May 18, 2024 Continuing our stay in the Invasion beaches, we travel into the Canadian (Juno Beach) sector. We’ll first take ample time to stop and pay tribute at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, where more than 2,000 Canadians who fought and died in the first days of the invasion are buried. Next, we visit the Juno Beach Centre; opened in 2003, this veterans-funded facility gives the visitor a powerful impression of the impact 15,000 Canadians in the D-Day operation made on that longest day. We’ll lunch (on own) amid the cafés up from Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer, and then join members of the D-Day Academy and their vintage WWII vehicles touring locations in the Canadian sector few tourists ever see, including the B8 Tactical Air Force airfield built by Canadians; the Longuessur-Mer German gun emplacements (where scenes of the movie The Longest Day were shot); and Abbay d’Ardenne (on June 7 and 8, 1944, when members of Kurt Meyer’s Hitler Youth SS regiment captured and systematically executed 20 Canadian infantrymen and tank crew). After a stop at the D-Day Academy Museum, we’ll enjoy supper at La Ferme Billy restaurant in Rots. Return to our hotel. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Day 5 Sunday, May 19, 2024 To start another day in the D-Day zone, we’ll depart our hotel for one of the American sectors and explore the Omaha Beach Museum, which spotlights the landings of more than 40,000 U.S. troops. Facing seemingly insurmountable German obstacles and sheer cliffs; members of V Corps sustained in excess of 5,000 casualties penetrating some two kilometres inland on June 6. The museum offers film, soldier profiles and a unique collection of military artifacts from this deadly assault. Following our time at the museum we’ll lunch (on own) in the area, then visit the Normandy American (Omaha Beach) cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, and then travel to Point du Hoc, a promontory (110-foot cliff intelligence told them was bristling with German guns that could seriously hamstring the U.S. invasion efforts at Omaha and thus became an objective to be taken from the beach by the U.S. Rangers. From an original force of 200, the Rangers were reduced to 90 men who, after two days, finally took the position. Our final stop of the day northwest of Bayeux takes in La Cambe War cemetery, where the remains of more than 21,000 German soldiers involved in the D-Day battles, are buried. Return to hotel. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 6 Monday, May 20, 2024 Departing the Normandy beaches, our journey takes us northeast along the coast of France to the location of Canada’s Second World War crucible – Operation Jubilee on August 19, 1942, at the French seaport of Dieppe. Here, 6,000 troops (most of them Canadian) made a first attempt to crack Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. These were the nine bloodiest hours in Canadian military history; more than half the assault troops became casualties. We will explore Blue Beach and the gun emplacements at Puys (responsible for many of the Cdn casualties); we’ll visit the Dieppe Theatre Museum in the town, where artifacts and images tell much of the story of that day. We’ll also take time to walk Red & White Beaches where chert rock stymied the tank and infantry assault. We’ll pause for lunch along the marina, close to the Hotel Moderne (which recent research has shown was one of the secret objectives of the overall raid). An archaeologist will lead us to a newly discovered bunker in a privategarden; and finally, we’ll stop at theDieppe CanadianCemetery. At day’s end we’ll have arrived at our lodgings in Arras, where we’ll stay for two nights. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 7 Tuesday, May 21, 2024 During our first full day on the battlefields of the Somme, we’ll visit Thiepval and Beaumont-Hamel sites. In the summer of 1916, nearly a year before the historic Canadian Army victory at Vimy Ridge, the allied armies of Britain, the Commonwealth countries (including Canada) and France launched the largest offensive of the war thus far – to relieve the French troops at Verdun, while intending to inflict heavy losses on the German armies and gain ground along that sector of the Western Front. Allied generals set the date for the commencement of the offensive for July 1, 1916. Although thousands of Canadians took part in the operation, they did so as members of Britain’s Expeditionary Force. The offensive, which lasted until November, achieved very little yet cost tens of thousands of lives. Near Albert, France, stands the Thiepval Monument that pays tribute to the nearly 60,000 men lost in the extended battle. Key to the first day of the offensive was the role played by the Newfoundland regiment, which went over the top at Beaumont Hamel. In just 40 minutes of fighting, the Newfoundlanders advanced into German machine-gun fire, and were decimated. Barely 60 of the 700 men answered roll call the next morning. The site of the BeaumontHamel battlefield is considered sacred ground to Canadians, especially Newfoundlanders. We visit both these Somme battleground areas and the related museum exhibits. We’ll enjoy a locally made picnic lunch at theOld Blighty Cafe andwe will continue onto view theLochnagar Crater, one of the largest mine-generated craters on the WesternFront.
We will also visit the city ofAlbert, where we will explore theSomme 1916 Museum,hidden deep underneath the city’s Romanesque Basilica. Then we return to our hotel in Arras. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 8 Wednesday, May 22, 2024 Another important day begins with our visit to the Vimy Ridge Memorial and accompanying battle sites. On Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, the Canadian Corps of 49 battalions – nearly 100,000 Canadian men serving together as a single fighting unit – rose from the trenches in front of No Man’s Land and accomplished the impossible. Where, for two years, neither the British nor French armies had succeeded in overcoming the German Army occupation of the ridge, the Canadians – in four days – managed to seize and hold the most strategic heights of the Western Front. Some say the event signified the birth of Canada as a nation. There will be opportunity to explore the Visitors’ Centre and some of the extraordinary excavations (miles of trenches and tunnels) the Canadians dug in preparation for the battle. The visit, of course, includes time to walk to, around and onto Walter Allward’s breath-taking sculpture, the 125-foot high Vimy Memorial, with its 11,285 names inscribed (Canadians lost in the Great War, for whom there are no known graves). After lunch, we depart Vimy for Notre Dame du Lorette’s Remembrance Ring (a WWI memorial for the 576,606 soldiers of 40 different countries who died in Nord-Pas-de-Calais) and Hill 70 (location of the Canadian offensive August 15-25, 1917, intended to draw German troops from the Ypres salient). At end of day, we arrive at our lodgings in Ypres, Belgium, in time to attend the 8 p.m. Menin Gate ceremony. At the end of the day we arrive at our lodgings in Ypres, Belgioum where we are staying for the next two nights Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 9 Thursday, May 23, 2024 We continue our exploration of Canada’s role in the Great War. Within weeks of the start of the war in 1914, German armies arrived on the doorstep of all the major cities of France and Belgium. Among them was Ypres, Belgium, where the first Canadians overseas took a stand in defence of the Ypres Salient, a bulge in the Western Front encompassing the city of Ypres, in the Flanders district of Belgium. The 1st Canadian Division exhibited extraordinary valour, particularly in the face of one of the first gas attacks of the war; despite more than 5,000 casualties near where the Menin Gate stands today, Canadians held fast. We will visit important Canadian memorials and cemeteries in the area, including Saint Julien (home of Brooding Soldier monument), and Tyne Cot Cemetery (11,965 burials, of which 8,369 are unnamed). During the Great War, the city of Ypres was virtually levelled. Throughout the siege, the remnants of the spires of the Cloth Hall stood eerily behind the Allied troops. Today rebuilt exactly as it stood before the war, the building has become the In Flanders Fields Museum and offers a tactile, engaging eye witness account of life in Ypres for soldiers and civilians during the war. The tour will take in the museum and there will be time to take in the shops around the Ypres Grote market or Grand Place. The evening will include witnessing one of the most moving ceremonies of the trip. The Last Post ceremony has been held nightly at the Menin Gate since November 11, 1929 (interrupted by WWII). Every night at exactly 8 p.m., Ypres police halt all traffic through and around the gate. As silence falls, buglers from the local fire brigade arrive and sound the Last Post and Reveille – Ypres’ nightly tribute to all those who fought to defend their ancestors in Flanders Fields. Return to hotel. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Lunch.
Day 10 Friday, May 24, 2024 Returning to historic sites in the Ypres Salient. Among our stops today will be a fitting tribute to another Canadian of the War, John McCrae, the young physician from Guelph, Ontario, who interrupted his practice to serve in the CEF and who, in 1915, composed among the most enduring pieces of poetry – In Flanders Fields. We will visit McCrae’s memorial on the Canal Bank at Essex Farm. We’ll also take in the extraordinary Langemarck Cemetery, where 44,000 German war-dead are buried. Also in our itinerary are the valleys and ridges of Passchendaele where Canadians made another Vimy-like push against German occupying troops in the fall of 1917. The Passchendaele Museum is newly renovated and expanded and sheds new light on the nature of this critical fall campaign by Commonwealth troops. With our travels through the battlefields and historic sites of both the First and Second World Wars completed, we travel on to our lodgings in Brussels. Meal inclusions: Breakfast.
Day 11 Saturday, May 25, 2024 Discover the wonders that the city of Brussels hides. Our adventure in the dazzling Grand Place or Grote Markt that will dazzle us with its wide variety of architectural styles. There we will find ourselves in front of the imposing City Hall of the city, and then we will move towards the famous “meón boy” or Manneken Pis: The great star of the city. We then continue to the Sablón neighbourhood to see the Church of Notre Dame and a former meeting place for the aristocracy during the 19th century. From there we will go to the royal court district, located in the upper part of the city. After lunch, Waterloo! You will visit the site of the final defeat of Emperor Napoleon I, in 1815. South of town, overlooking the battlefield, the Lion’s Mound is an artificial hill topped by a cast-iron lion. It’s a great place for history buffs, for those of you who are not too keen on exploring the ins and outs of the historical fight, there are plenty of other things to see and do in and around Waterloo such as castles, churches, casinos, panoramic views and many more. Our fun and entertaining guide will make this a memorable experience for you. Farewell Dinner at/near hotel. Return to hotel. Meal inclusions: Breakfast, Dinner.
Day 12 Sunday, May 26, 2024 Air travel from Brussels home to Toronto.
Exploring the advanced dressing stations, at Essex Farm in Flanders, Belgium
The Hooghe Crater near Ypres, Belgium
The Medieval Gates of Cambrai, France
The Vimy Ridge Memorial, France
The new Hill 70 Memorial (pictured during the inauguration in August 2017)
The Somme 1916 Museum in Albert, France
The Beaches at Puys, near Dieppe. France
Point du Hoc, Normandy, where the American Rangers landed on D-Day
Juno Beach & Memorial at sunset
The Notre Dame of Paris, just after sunset
Tour pricing comes with the following inclusions & exclusions:
Any meals or drinks not mentioned, gratuities and Merit Travel service fee.
All other services that have not been mentioned in the inclusions.
Roundtrip direct flights with Air Canada to Paris (return departs from Brussels)
Plaza Premium airport lounge pass
10-nights 3H Superior and 4H hotels with full breakfast - 4-nights stay in Normandy - 2-nights stay in Arras - 2-nights stay in Ypres Salient in Belgium - 2-nights stay in Brussels
7 dinners and 2 lunches
50 seat executive AC Coach with WC/DVD/drinks facilities
Entrances as per itinerary
$ 6629 CAD
$ 1600 CAD
Per person, based on twin occupancy
TOUR PAYMENT SCHEDULE
Initial Deposit: $750, (non-refundable) to guarantee your space is due immediately
Your Remaining Balance: Due 60 days prior to departure