and the Belgian countryside turned to a treeless, muddy landscape. The Somme in Picardy was similarly turned into hell on earth. Today it os possible to visit these locations. Ypres has the incomparable 'In Flanders Fields Museum and the Menin Gate where at 8 o'clock every evening 385 days a year the Last Post is sounded to commemorated those who died. A few miles to t5he North East is the cemetery at Passchaendale were one of the bigggest battles was fought with the cemetery a resting place and memorial to the sacrifices made. Just to the west of Ypres is the small town of Poperinge Here at Talbot House set up by an Army chaplain was where soldiers could gain a short respite away from the appalling conditions at the front, Britons and Australians in particular.
At Vimy Ridge just across the French border there are preserved trenches. This was a Canadian stretch of the line with a memorial to the Canadian troops who lost their lives there. To the south is the Somme battlefield. Under the town of Albert is an underground museum which shows the conflict in the area. In a wood near Compiegne you can see where the armistice was signed in a railway carriage in November 1918 which brought an end to the hostilities at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month of November. To the east of Compiegne is the Argonne valley where many American troops lost their lives towards the end of the war contributing to the breaking of the stalemate. Further east is Verdun, a key fortified town in the Maginot Line which held out throughout the war with much of its defences still in evidence. The hall of mirrors in the Palace of Versailles is where the Treaty of Versailles was signed. The room had already been there for almost three centuries and is still there to be seen showing the splendour of Louis XIV's reign as 'the Sun King'. These are just some of the historic sights from the Great War can be seen as part of a customized driver guided tour.
Also, however, there are many sights from the Second World War starting with the D Day beaches in Normandy, There are the American beaches, Utah and Omaha, the Pointe du Hoc in between, the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, the village of St Mere Eglise where the US parachutist hung from the steeple, the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches, the British and Canadian beaches of Gold, Juno and Sword, The Merville battery and Pegusus Bridge the firs objectives to be captured on Day Day and the Cafe Gondree the first French habitation to be liberated. Then there is Rheims where Eisenhower took the German surrender. We can visit the room where this took place. Then there is the Ardennes in eastern Belgium where the Battle of the Bulge was fought around Bastogne and on to the Hurtgen Forest where the Siegfried Line was finally breached, the last obstacle before crossing the Rhine. These Second World War sights can also be seen as part of a customized driver guided tour with you host, John. You decide what you would like to see and John will take you there whether you are interested in the Great War or the Second World War or both. Each tour is unique. I draft/cost a bespoke itinerary, meet you at the airport in Paris and accompany you (in car or van) throughout your stay with good beer and food along the way. I exchange emails which lead to the trip of a lifetime. Planning the trip is half the fun. The other half is experiencing it all unfold as you store up unforgettable memories.
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