My family and I have about 10 days beginning/ending in Paris in late November. We’d like to visit Belgium, and are considering staying in Bruges. My son & husband would like to see a couple WWI/WWII sites. Any suggestions? We will be too late for Armistice Day, as we do not arrive until Nov. 16th. Thanks!
There’s a great WWI museum in Ypres, which is also very near many battle sites.
We took the Quasimodo tour from Bruges to visit the WW-I sights around Ypres/Ieper. It was a great full day tour and worth the money. You don’t say how you’re getting around, but consider Bastogne. I’ll assume you’re planning on visiting Normandy and all the D-day sights. Near it is Pegasus bridge.
If you will have a car, you could also consider staying in Ypres and day tripping to Bruges. It's a bit less hectic for parking, etc. (Right on the main square the Old Tom is nice...stayed there for a week when my mother broke her knee. I can also highly recommend the hospital in Ypres!) Either way, be sure to see the WWI museum in the old cloth hall in Ypres, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Old Essex Farm, and the ceremony at the Menen Gate in Ypres every night at 8:00. Have a great time.
For WWII in Belgium, I recommend Bastogne for its Battle of the Bulge sites. It's best to drive there, as some of the battlefield sites are outside of the city. They just opened a marvelous new museum that captures the siege from many points of view--even the German one. You can even see foxholes that remain from Easy Company, made famous by Band of Brothers.
For WW1 and if on the way from Paris to Bastogne worth a visit is Verdun in France and Ypres as already noticed remains the place for that too. The V2 launch basis La Coupole and Le Blockhaus near Saint-Omer are worth to consider, you can visit them on the way back to Paris from Ypres, the same for Vimy Ridge near Arras. Using the car for this trip is the best way to move around.
There are a lot of battle sites in the area.
I would consider staying in Ghent. It is a little larger with more options for hotels, food, etc. We stayed at the Hotel Carlton this past spring. the proprietors were excellent guides and provided us with bus tickets good for both Ghent and Bruges. And their breakfast was one of the best we have ever experienced.
Bruges is a neat town, good for browsing the chocolate shops.
Be sure to see the clock tower.
Have you considered Arnhem in the Netherlands?
Very good museum there for Operation Market Garden.
Thank you, everyone! Your input is helpful. I think we’ll make Bruges our home base, and visit Ypres and surrounding areas. I will see what options we can find for a guide vs Quasimodo tours. Bastogne sounds interesting, and I remember it from the Band of Brothers series. However, I don’t know whether it would be more fun for us to take a day visiting that area or devote it to exploring Ghent? We were able to see some WWII sites and memorials when we visited Normandy/Paris this spring, and also in the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria over the summer. On this trip, because our time is so limited, it seems best to stick to a relatively small area. We’ll only have a few days in Belgium, and then will likely return to Paris for 4/5. We are interested in enjoying the history (not just the WWs) architecture, food, culture, & people. Thank you for your recommendations!
I do like the idea of making a loop by car, going first to Bastogne. Going to check that out too.