The British Experience on Flanders’ Western Front

Christopher Chanter
A four-night tour based in Mons, with a final night in Ypres, to discover the fate of the British Expeditionary Force during the First World War.
Christopher Chanter

Tour Dates

05/07/2021 - 09/07/2021 Book
02/08/2021 - 06/08/2021 Book
04/07/2022 - 08/07/2022 Book
01/08/2022 - 05/08/2022 Book

The British Experience on Flanders’ Western Front

Join us on a small group expert-led tour of Flanders to discover the fate of the British Expeditionary Force, which was tasked with halting the advance of the combined German Armies at the early stage of the First World War.

You’ll find stories of bravery and tragedy as you follow in the footsteps of the British fighting force, gaining an understanding of what life was like for the soldiers as they fought rearguard actions against the huge German force, often facing overwhelming odds.

You’ll also uncover the impact of the war on cities and the local population, with walking tours of Mons and Ypres to understand the devastating impact of being part of the front line. 



The expert leading your tour

Christopher Chanter is an experienced and renowned historian who has led many tours of First World War locations. Christopher brings a personal perspective to events as his wife Emma is the great granddaughter of the first Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force Field Marshal Sir John French later 1st Earl of Ypres.



Highlights of this four-night history holiday

  • St Symphorien Cemetry, where British and German soldiers lie together
  • Walking tour of Mons to visit the Grand Place and the Memorial Museum
  • Nimy where two British soldiers held back a German Division of over ten thousand men
  • Follow part of the route of the Great Retreat from Mons to Landrecies
  • Visit Le Cateau where the BEF held off the German Army, which led to the Battle of the Marne
  • A walking tour of Ypres to see how the city was completely rebuilt



Tour prices

This four-night history holiday costs from £1,399 per person, based on two sharing if you are taking part in the tours, and from £1,199 if you are not taking part in the daily tours. This includes foot-passenger ferry travel from Dover to Dunkirk.

There is no single supplement for individuals staying in single rooms, and a small extra charge for individuals in twin or double rooms. 



Included in your holiday

  • Expert guide
  • Return foot-passenger ferry travel from Dover to Dunkirk
  • 4* hotel accommodation
  • Executive minibus travel to all sites, with space so you can always have a spare seat next to you
  • Breakfast and dinner each day



Available dates

This tour has dates in 2021 and 2022. Departures are available on 5 July 2021 (book here) and 2 August 2021 (book here), and on 4 July 2022 (book here) and 1 August 2022 (book here). 

Numbers are limited, reserve your place with a low 5% deposit and enjoy the full flexibility of our COVID guarantee. 

Accommodation

You'll be spending much of your time exploring sights and attractions with your tour expert, so when you return to your hotel we know how important it is to be somewhere you can relax and refresh in comfort.

For this tour, you'll be staying in a luxurious four-star hotel in Mons, with your final night at an excellent hotel in Ypres. You'll have everything you need for a comfortable night's sleep with rooms that are ensuite and facilities including a TV, radio and complimentary wifi.

 


Your booking includes:

  • Ensuite room with tea & coffee facilities and wifi
  • Breakfast and dinner

There are extra charges for:
  • All food and drink outside of breakfast and dinner. 
 

Transfers during your tour

For transfers between all tour destinations we use large 17-22 seater executive minibuses so that the seat beside you can be empty.

Transfers will be a luxury experience and your minibus will have comfortable reclining seats with safety belts, a fully operational air-conditioning system, an on-board refrigerator and a fully functioning toilet maintained throughout your journey.

Our drivers are friendly, smart, professional and punctual. so you are always in safe hands. 

 

Solo travellers welcome

Our tours are perfect for solo travellers who want to expand their knowledge and understanding of a subject, and prefer the choice of being as solitary or social as you like. Each tour is a journey of an independent mind – fellow travellers will be intelligent, well-read, knowledgeable and like-minded people, and a mutual interest in a particular topic can lead to life-long friendships.

Read more about our welcome for solo travellers here.​
 


Options for non-touring partners

We know that specialist tours can be less fun for partners, so our tours include a lower rate if you want to come with a friend or loved one who’d like to enjoy the hotel facilities and explore the local area, without taking part in the history tours. 

Our hotel for the first three nights is located in the centre of Mons, before we move to Ypres for the final night. 

Mons has some wonderful places to visit. The famous Grand Place is the location of some of the city's most impressive buildings, including the Hotel du Villle, plus lots of fantastic restaurants serving favourites such as mussels, steak and fries. There are also plenty of places to try the fabulous Belgian beer. 

If you have an interest in Van Gogh, you can visit one of the homes he lived in before becoming famous as a painter. Van Gogh's house is unassuming, but packed with interesting information. There are plenty of fascinating museums to visit too. Mons Memorial Museum has collections that cover the impact of both World Wars on the city. 

The Collegiale Sainte-Waudru is Mons's most impressive church and it has a small museum where visitors can see the skull of King Dagobert, who was murdered in attempt to end the bloodline of Jesus Christ. Over the road from Sainte-Waudru is the Musee Francois Duesberg, home to art from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

For the final two days partners can explore Ypres. The city saw much fierce fighting during the First World War and there are many war museums, memorials and military cemeteries that reflect this, however there is plenty of charm to enjoy too. 

The starting point for any visit is the Market Square, where there is an impressive array of architecture and fabulous cafes and restaurants, including the famous Belgian Chocolate Emporiums such as Pieter de Groot’s chocolate shop in the market square. 

On the theme of food, seek out the Henk Bakery on Sint-Jakobstraat, which serves amazing bread, cakes and puddings and is popular with locals and visitors. 

For hidden gems, look for the Belle Almshouse, which is a tiny chapel that is full of fantastic artwork dating back hundreds of years. 

Ypres' most impressive building is the incredible Lakenhalle in the Grote Markt, which has been restored to its full 14th century glory.

The city is also home to the moving Last Post ceremony, which takes place at 8pm each day at the Menin Gate. Traffic comes to a halt and different instruments are used to sound the post each evening.

Picture credits:
The British Expeditionary Force preparing for the Battle of Mons, credit: Acardillo21, CC BY-SA 4.0 
Mons Grand Place and Hotel du Ville, Shutterstock / Anibal Trejo

Tour Dates

05/07/2021 - 09/07/2021 Book
02/08/2021 - 06/08/2021 Book
04/07/2022 - 08/07/2022 Book
01/08/2022 - 05/08/2022 Book

Itinerary

Day 1

We catch the Dover to Dunkirk ferry and then take an executive minibus to our base at Mons, where you’ll have time to settle in. For the evening, we have an introductory talk on the First World War from our guide, Christopher Chanter, followed by a presentation on the rebuilding of Ypres after its total destruction in WWI.

Day 2

We visit St Symphorien Cemetary, an Anglo-German burial ground containing the first and last British soldiers to die in the 1914-1918 war. This is a moving and tranquil place where VC and Iron Cross recipients lie together as, ‘enemies in life, united in death’ (im leben ein feind, in tode vereint).

In the evening, we take a walking tour of Mons to visit the Grand Place and the excellent Mons Memorial Museum.

Day 3

We head to the canal at Nimy, two miles north of Mons, which was the site of the first British engagement of the war and the place where Lieutenant Dease of the Royal Fusiliers and Sergeant Sid Godley held off thousands of Von Kluck’s First German Army. By holding the bridge over the canal, the two men allowed the British Expeditionary Force to withdraw safely, until they were both killed and won the first VCs of the war.

In the afternoon, we follow the route of the British Great Retreat from Mons to Landrecies, where the general staff rolled themselves into blankets and slept in the village school, hearing shots and explosions a few miles away.

We then continue on to Le Cateau, site of the famous rearguard action where the British held off the Germans until the battle of the Marne, which finally turned the Germans back north.

Day 4

After breakfast we head to Ypres and our hotel for the final night. You’ll enjoy a guided walking tour around Ypres to view many of the buildings we discussed in Monday evening’s talk, and we also go to Cloth Hall and Flanders Fields Museum.

In the evening, we visit the rebuilt Cathedral and St George’s English Church, which was built by Field Marshal French.

Day 5

You have free time in Ypres to discover the city, with highlights including the famous Belgian Chocolate Emporiums such as Pieter de Groot’s chocolate shop in the market square, and the artisanal leather shops that have been part of Ypres for more than 700 years.

After lunch, we return to Dunkirk for the return ferry to Dover.