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The London Blitz & The Anzac Trail

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Fares
  • Accommodation

A journey overview

  • London
  • Portsmouth
  • Caen
  • Amiens
  • Villers-Bretonneux
  • Australian Remembrance Trail
  • Ypres
  • Reims
  • Verdun
  • Paris

14 Days Explorations
  • Departing:
  • 1 Jun 2021

World Wars left a mark on Europe and on those Australians who made huge sacrifices. Our journey weaves a path from London to Paris, via the Battle of Britain, Bletchley Park’s codebreakers, the D-Day landings and Somme battlefields. We take time in the port of Honfleur, Reims and Paris.

The London Blitz and the Anzac trail 2021 land only Map

Itinerary

We settle in to our opulent London accommodation, the Corinthia Hotel, located just steps from Trafalgar Square, Westminster and the Thames, and enjoy a Welcome Dinner and cocktails, meeting the travellers who will share this moving experience through World War history, including our special host, former Australian Chief of Army Lt-Gen. Ken Gillespie.

Duxford Airfield played a major part in the Battle of Britain, and we explore its British and American aviation museums. Then we dine in the extraordinary venue of the Cabinet War Rooms, Winston Churchill’s underground bunker, visiting the subterranean world in which some of WWII’s most important decisions were made. And we see Bletchley Park, whose codebreakers were critical to Allied success in WWII by breaking Nazi message encryption.

Portsmouth’s long association with the British Navy culminated in Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France, which was overseen at Southwick House, high in the hills overlooking the city. We dine at the country pub where Churchill, Eisenhower and Montgomery often took breaks from their planning of the D-Day invasions. Later we visit the D-Day Story museum, which tells personal histories behind this momentous day.

We take a fast ferry on the same route from Portsmouth sailed by thousands of vessels on D-Day, 6 June 1944, arriving in Cherbourg, a deep-water port prioritised for capture during the invasion. On the 77th anniversary of D-Day we explore the Normandy invasion beaches, and attend commemoration ceremonies. We see Omaha Beach aboard WWII trucks through the back roads, and review an emotional day at Au Pied Du Marais restaurant in Cabourg.

We discover lovely Honfleur, which has links with France’s historic voyages of discovery and was the birthplace of Impressionism. The town of Villers-Bretonneux has inextricable bonds with Australia. Our troops repulsed a German attack in early April 1918, but the town, now defended by inexperienced British soldiers, was later lost. Australians returned to battle and retook it on Anzac Day. We also visit Fromelles, site of Australia’s first battle on the Western Front.

We enter Belgium along the Australian Remembrance Trail, which covers significant WWI sites where Australians fought and fell. We view the underground city of Naours, a quarry that was extended to provide refuge for locals, and attend the Last Post ceremony at Ypres’ Menin Gate. No city suffered more in WWI, and we have a local guide on a walk through its rebuilt heart and our excursion to battle sites at Polygon Wood and Passchendaele.

Our time in France and Belgium has given us cause for deep reflection, and it is time to momentarily move on from our war focus. We travel to Reims and on a walk view its glorious 800-year-old Cathedral, where French kings were crowned. The caves and cuvees of the Champagne region also await, before we visit Verdun, site of WWI’s longest battle. No-go areas remain in the city and surrounds due to unexploded ordnance.

Paris’ status as an ‘open city’ in WWII thankfully spared it widespread damage, and it remains one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We spend a night at the splendid Le Meurice, a palace hotel located in the heart of the city, and look back on our unforgettable experiences during a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

We check out from Le Meurice and transfer to the airport for our return flights home, having immersed ourselves thoroughly in a turbulent period of European history.

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