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WWI and WWII sites in Belgium and Northern France

We are going to Belgium and northern France for two weeks in March. It is our 8th trip to Europe and we are interested in visiting world war sites. We've been to Normandy briefly, but will spend a couple of days there, seeing it more in depth. I am just beginning to plan. Do you have any suggestions for "must see" sites?

Posted by
9037 posts

I guess you haven't read any of the myriad other posts here about Normandy, Bayeux, and Battlebus Tours? I will wait til you have a chance to read them then before writing any more.

Posted by
12040 posts

Not a "must see" list (I personally dislike that term), but a list of suggestions for further research: Ypres, Verdun, Bastogne, Vimy Ridge, Mons, Dunkirk, Eupen, Arnhem, Malmedy, Metz, Hannut, Antwerp, Hurtgen Forrest, Meuse River Valley.

Posted by
29 posts

I have read all about the Battlebus tours and Bayeaux and have, in fact, stayed in Bayeaux. I thought I implied that when I said I was familiar with Normandy and was looking for impute on other places. We have been to one Normandy museum and the beaches and were so impressed that we would like to go back and spend a couple of days. I definetly will plan on the Battlebus tours. My husband enjoys reading about WWII, so this trip will be planned for him. I am really looking for information on where to go in Belgium. I realize I have a lot of research to do between now and then, but, as I said, this is my eighth trip, all done by car, so I know what I am doing. Just looking for a starting direction. Thanks for any help that is out there!

Posted by
97 posts

We are planning on doing a similar trip in Belgium this spring. I ran across this booklet on the web which describes various sites in Northern France and West Flanders. It is from a Canadian point of view though.

http://tinyurl.com/69rkg9

Posted by
515 posts

From prior post: We traveled to Belgium in June after 4 nights in Bayeux taking Battlebus tours of Normandy...then train from Bayeux to Paris, then Thalys to Brussels. Next morning we were picked up at our hotel by Mr. Martin King, with whom we traveled in his car for 2 days seeing the sites associated with the 11th Armored Division and Battle of the Bulge. My husband's father served with the 41st Recon Cav in the 11th. Mr. King (found prior recommendations for him on the RS site) is a Scotsman, semi-retired professor, who lives now in Antwerp, recently did a bit on Hitler's Trenches for the History Channel, currently working on a book about the Bulge. He does only occasional tours. His tour was not cheap, but we felt that what we saw and heard was so worth it. This was a once in a lifetime trip for us, and we could NEVER have seen all the places and known the remarkable stories that he was able to tell us. Here is his site: http://users.skynet.be/fa531049/home/index.html

For us, yes, Bastogne, Malmedy, Houffalize, St. Vith, Foy, and more, were worth the extra days of travel; the Ardennes is both magnificent and moving. We stayed overnight at the Hotel du Sud, a block off the square in Bastogne. It's a fine basic old hotel at a lesser rate than the hotels on the square. Our rooms were comfortable and there was Internet access, and included breakfast. We flew home from smaller and easier Brussels airport.

Another gentleman also has highly recommended tours...Henri Mignon, who was a child in Bastogne during the battle. And here is his site: http://users.skynet.be/bastogne.battle.bulge.guided.tours/index.htm. I am sure that both men or perhaps other guides that are unknown to me, will tailor the tour to your particular desires. For us, it was the path that the 11th Armored took, plus others. We went to places we had never heard of and saw placques and memorials we never dreamed we would see.

Posted by
9037 posts

I apologize if I sounded snippy. This was not my intention. I did not get that you had been anywhere near the D-Day beaches. Your post says 8th trip to Europe. This could be anywhere. Normandy is a large area, and saying you had been there briefly does not tell me much and I cannot know where you were. Hopefully some others can help you with the WW1 sites. Looks like you have already gotten some good answers. Have fun and enjoy your trip!

Posted by
408 posts

Liz,
I am also traveling to France and Belgium this Spring. I have booked a tour with Henri Mignon in Bastogne. I was told that the Atlantic wall in interesting. We have been renting World War I&II DVD's from blockbuster to learn more about the areas. I have also booked two tours with Battlebus in Bayeaux. Good luck and have a great trip.

Posted by
252 posts

If your husband is well-read in WWI & WWII history, a large bus tour group may be a bit layman for him. A private and personalized tour can be well worth the extra money, especially if it is one of his passions.

Posted by
440 posts

Liz, my husband and I spent 4 nights around Arras and Albert in northern France. My husband had 3 great uncles who fought -- and survived -- WW I. I can highly recommend 1.) Vimy Ridge - young Canadian co-op students guide you through the WW I sites and provide a wealth of information; there is the memorial, cemeteries, tunnels and boardwalk to view. 2.) Beaumant Hamel - where the Newfoundlanders were killed by the Germans in WW I; you can go through the battlefield walkway either by your self, or with the guides (highly recommended) 3.) Museum of the Great War in Peronne 4.) Albert has a great little WW I museum that some say is better than the one in Peronne. We thought they were both good, so I guess it depends on how much time you have. http://www.warmuseums.nl/gal/144gal.htm We also want to go to Paschendale and Ypres, but it will have to wait until the next trip.

Posted by
80 posts

Liz,

You surely won't want to miss Longues-sur-Mer and Arromanches. These are some onf my favorites for D-Day sites. Longues-sur-Mer still has 4 pillboxes you can walk in and you can see the manmade harbour in Arromanches. They are only about 30 minutes from each other and are really easy to get to by car.

Posted by
80 posts

Liz,

You surely won't want to miss Longues-sur-Mer and Arromanches. These are some onf my favorites for D-Day sites. Longues-sur-Mer still has 4 pillboxes you can walk in and you can see the manmade harbour in Arromanches. They are only about 30 minutes from each other and are really easy to get to by car.

Posted by
80 posts

Liz,

You surely won't want to miss Longues-sur-Mer and Arromanches. These are some onf my favorites for D-Day sites. Longues-sur-Mer still has 4 pillboxes you can walk in and you can see the manmade harbour in Arromanches. They are only about 30 minutes from each other and are really easy to get to by car.