From the Somme to Flanders Fields

Somme - Northern France - Flanders Fields - Multiday

  • 250km
  • 4 days tour
  • Somme/Artois/Flanders
  • Incl. Museum visits & Memorial stops
  • Flexible program

Starting day 1 at the Somme in Albert or even a bit further in Compiègne (département Oise) we make a 4 days Battlefield Tour through Northern France and Flanders Fields in Belgium.

Very touching cycling tour with optional adjustments according to your own nationality. Whether you want to focus on the British, German, French, Belgian, Irish, Canadian, New-Zealand, Australian,  South-African or even Chinese-Indian and Portugese presence during the First World War in these areas, it will always become an unforgettable experience. It makes you having a look on all aspects and so many human concerns that are at stake when a war rushes through so many lives.

Where to start on DAY 1 ? a matter of choices!

Péronne, Albert or even Compiègne are very interesting locations from where we head up to the north, following the old battlefields that were situated here during 1914-18.

If you choose to start in Compiègne, the first itinerary also passes along the Armistice location of ‘la Clairière‘ situated in the woods. It’s a long trip to Arras or you choose to stop in Péronne? Since we have an accompanying car with us, the car might bring you to your hotel in Arras, so skipping part of the long distance-ride.

 

If you choose to start in Albert, we do pass the Newfoundlanders Memorial in Hamel as well as the Ulster Tower and Thiepval Memorial (can be compared with the Menin Gate in Ypres). Including Pozières (first time ever tanks were involved in 1916) we pass also the South-African Memorial at Delville Wood before reaching Arras.

 

 

  • Part 1: 65 KM or 90 KM or 140 KM Location: Albert - Thiepval/Beaumont-Hamel - Arras

    First option: Albert – Arras

    The first stage is about 65 km from Albert at the Somme to Arras in Artois. Depending on your own priorities we consider stops at Thiepval, Ulster Tower, Beaumont-Hamel, or go another way from Thiepval up to Pozières (the first Tanks-offensive) up to South-African monument of Delville Wood before we have a lunch stop in Bapaume. Optional extentions may be the Memorial Park of Bullecourt & the Cariboo in Monchy-le-Preux, before finishing our daytour in beautiful Arras.

    Suggestion: a visit to the Wellington Quarry (do not arrive later than around 16.30 hrs for last visit), if not this afternoon, perhaps first thing in the (next) morning?

     

    Second option: starting in Compiègne (see description above)

    see what has been told in the introduction already…

  • Part 2: 55 KM Location: Arras - Vimy Ridge/N.D. de la Lorette - Lens

    In the morning you might visit first the Wellington Quarry to learn about the underground war (if not yet done the evening before). We have more underground stories for you once we arrive at the Canadian ‘Sanctuary’ of Vimy Ridge. A little guided tour by Canadian students (free of charge) is a must as well as taking time to walk around the imposing Mother Canada Statue with large view on Lens and even the Hills of Flanders (Belgium). We continue on some partly off-road tracks towards the silence of Notre Dame de la Lorette, the French Memorial including Chapel, Mausoleum and a quite interesting museum with trenches! We also recommend to have a lunch/drinking stop here, before heading up for next overnight-place: the former coalmine city of Lens.

    2nd Option: straight to Lille or Ploegsteert (on French-Belgian border) – 75 à 80km

    If you wish to go a bit further on your second day, we recommend an overnight stop in Lille or on the French-Belgian border at the river ‘Leie/Lys’. In that case your itinerary would be 75 – 80 km.

  • Part 3: 65 KM Location: Lens - Fromelles/Plougstreet - Ypres

    Another fascinating day-trip, first on the mainly flat and open lands around the slack hills. Hill 170 and the cemetery that reminds to the Battle of Loos. Then up to the Australian Memorial of Fromelles – lunch stop. We approach and will cross the French-Belgian border (perhaps we sing about the Mademoiselles from Armentières, Australian soldiers song…). We arrive in Plougstreet with the Christmas Truce. Continue to the (Irish) Peace Park of Messines and the New Zealanders Memorial. We follow the traces of the Mining Battle up to our final destination of today: Ypres, heart of Flanders Fields. Of course we will not skip the Last Post at 8.00 pm under the Menin Gate!

    Did you choose option 2 on day 2 ?

    In that case whether we leave from Lille following gravel roads to Belgium (Warneton), where we cycle along rivers like ‘the Deûle’ en ‘the Leie’ (la Lys in French) up to Plougstreet (Ploegsteert) and Messines… From that point same as described above.

    Or you passed the night already in Ploegsteert on the French-Belgian Border? In that case see described program but we add some Flemish hills including the famous Kemmelberg, before following the traces of the Mining Battle up to final destination Ypres.

  • Part 4: 50 KM Location: The Great War In Flanders Fields (circle formed itinerary - no luggage transfer)

    Last day of our tour, but so many things to see and perhaps you still want to visit the In Flanders Fields Museum (morning?). Or we stop in one of the many Great War museums along this circle formed ‘only’ 50 km long cycling day.  Today you witness a maximum of stories on the many and highly concentrated Battlefield memorials, cemeteries, craters, trenches and bunkers. We experience the 4 Battles of Ypres today. Our briefing the night before will certainly be an important one in making the right choices.

  • End

    Geniet na van een lekker drankje of versnapering in onze fietsbar, in het historisch centrum van Ieper!




Extra information

This tour has many possible adjustments depending on certain priorities you might bring with you, such as specific Memorials, cemeteries and former battlefields where perhaps one of your ancestors was involved.

  • Beer tastings
  • Wine tastings
  • Lunch possible

Other tours

The Wine & Cycling Heritage Tour

Full day

For the more ‘Bourgondic’ cycling tourists among us, this wine and cycling heritage tour is a must. Monteberg & Entre Deux Monts in 'Heuvelland' are surprising discoveries in the capital region of beers and ... wine as well! Enjoy and listen our astonishing stories of heroic cycling classics (Ghent-Wevelgem) or Tour de France-passages. Get in touch with the famous champions of cycling, of which some of them were very local (Freddy Maertens, Frank Vandenbroucke, Johan Museeuw, Michel Pollentier...).
Since we have road race bicycles as well, you might try the extended version also (from 80 till max. 100 km through Flanders Mountains).
Last but not least, discover the very surprising "Zilver Cruys", several highly reputated wines that easily compete the better Loire & Bourgogne wines, but here cultivated in the former battlefields and so nearby Monuments & trenches.

  • 70km
  • Expandable to 50 or even 75 km
  • Road bicycles or mountainbike (option)
  • Choose your vinyard to visit!
  • Wine and war on the same fields of Flanders...
More info