2018 – CanHist Tour to France and Belgium2017-12-22T09:02:05+00:00

Project Description

CanHist Tours

Battlefields Tour of France and Belgium featuring Dunkirk
July 8-21, 2018 
14-day tour of France & Belgium

From Vimy Ridge to Juno Beach, this is an opportunity to visit  Canada’s battlefields of distinction. Experience our shared history in Europe at key destinations in Flanders, Normandy and Paris, with Optional Excursions to Bruges, Versailles, the Louvre and more! The tour will also include a special visit to Dunkirk, scene of the blockbuster 2017 movie. Join CanHist Tours’ History Hosts Chris Evans and Neil Orford, as they explore the stories and tour the sites of Canada’s rich military and cultural history in France and Belgium.

neil-orfordNeil Orford – Neil Orford teaches History at Centre Dufferin District High School in Shelburne, Ontario, part of the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB). In his 30 years as a classroom teacher, he has served as a department head for 17 years and has recently started his own educational consulting firm, Canadian Historical Education Services Ltd. www.canhist.ca. In 2014, Neil Orford became the Program Leader for the “Digital Historian Project TM” (DHP), a digital history program that integrates Math & Historical research for schools and museums across Canada. His work as a teacher with the UGDSB has seen him win numerous awards for his teaching, most recently the 2015 Government of Canada History Award for Excellence, the 2013 Canadian Governor General’s Award for History Teaching and the 2012 Ontario Premier’s Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2012 he was also the co-recipient of the OHASSTA “Alan Skeoch Leadership Award

chris-evans2Chris Evans – Chris Evans is a military historian with degrees in English/History, Political Science, and a Masters with Distinction in History specializing in 20th century conflicts. His work on airpower in the Normandy Campaign was nominated for a Governor General’s award. He has served as the historian for 11 tours to Europe studying the battlefields of the First and Second World War. The tours ranged from those for students, veterans, and the general public. He was the historian for a television documentary on the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and has written multiple articles. He is also a published author and has worked in publishing as an acquisitions editor of military history for the last 17 years, starting at Random House in New York City and is now senior editor at Pen & Sword Books.

Day 1 – Sunday July 8 – IN FLIGHT     M
Meet your group, tour hosts and Tour Manager at Pearson International Airport, Toronto. Depart on an overnight flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris.

Day 2 – Monday July 9 – to YPRES       M/L/D
Land at Charles de Gaulle Airport, meet your coach and driver and depart for Ypres, stopping en route at Beaumont-Hamel to visit the battleground where the Royal Newfoundland Regiment staged its fateful attack as part of the first day of the Somme Offensive on July 1, 1916. After your visit, stop in Auchonvillers for a group lunch at a local tea room. Arrive in Ypres in the afternoon, check into your centrally located hotel for a three-night stay. The rest of the day is yours to explore the beautiful centre of Ypres. You may wish to join your tour manager for an orientation walk in Ypres, featuring the town centre that was completely destroyed in the course of World War I. Marvel at the reconstructed Cloth Hall, St George’s Memorial Church, featuring its commemorations to various regiments, St Martin’s Cathedral, and, of course, The Menin Gate, with its more than 54,000 names of Commonwealth soldiers lost in the great war, having no known grave. Or, you may wish to visit the internationally renowned In Flanders Fields Museum, housed in the Cloth Hall. Conclude the first day with a group dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 3 – Tuesday July 10 – VIMY AND YPRES SALIENT       B
After breakfast, depart for Vimy Ridge, a location that needs no introduction to Canadians. On April 9, 1917, fighting for the first time as a national unit, the four Canadian divisions, under Lieutenant General Julian Byng, succeeded in accomplishing a feat their French and British allies were unable to do in the two years previously by taking Vimy Ridge. Tour the trenches and tunnels (if available) and spend time communing with the monument. Return to Ypres to purchase lunch and choose to spend the afternoon on your own, or join historian Chris Evans in visiting Essex Farm Cemetery, famous as the location where John McCrae wrote the iconic poem, In Flanders Fields and stopping at the Crest Farm Monument, commemorating the Battle of Passchendaele, sometimes known as the Third Battle of Ypres, where the Canadians fought at a cost of nearly 16,000 casualties. Enjoy dinner on your own and re-assemble at 8 pm at for the nightly ceremony where members of the group will lay a wreath on behalf of the group at The Menin Gate.

Day 4 – Wednesday July 11 – BRUGES       B
After breakfast in the hotel, board the coach for your trip to the beautiful Belgian city of Bruges. Besides its beauty, Bruges is worth a visit for Canadians, as it was liberated on September 12, 1944 by the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. On the way into Bruges, make a stop 5 kms south of the city at Moerbrugge, where the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders fought a pivotal battle on September 8th, and visit Canada Bridge with its two bison statues commemorating the Manitoba Dragoons. After an orientation walk into the centre of the city with your Tour Manager and time to purchase lunch, you may choose to explore the beautiful streets, churches and canals of Bruges on your own, or choose one of two other optional activities (additional costs apply):
(1) take a guided walking tour of the city with a local expert (minimum 8 people required – $30.00)
(2) visit the Adegem Canadian War Museum with Chris Evans. The museum features an excellent collection of WWII war paraphernalia, realistic miniature battlefield depictions and beautiful gardens. ($30.00)
Following a leisurely dinner on your own in Bruges, board the coach for the return to Ypres.

Day 5 – Thursday July 12 – to DIEPPE        B
After breakfast, check out of your hotel, bid farewell to Ypres and depart for Dunkirk en route to Dieppe. The “Miracle of Dunkirk” has become one of the most enduring images of World War 2. Beyond all expectation, the British Expeditionary Force was evacuated from France in May and June 1940. This story was told brilliantly in the 2017 Blockbuster “Dunkirk”. Under the guidance of one of the excellent Local Guides in Dunkirk, we will walk the beach and see the battle sites of the 1940 evacuation (including the ‘East Mole’),and stop to see wrecks of the Little Ships. Especially affecting is the Dunkirk Memorial and War Cemetery, containing the graves of 800 WWII servicemen. Before we depart for Dieppe after Lunch, Chris Evans will teach us about some of the defensive perimeter formed around Dunkirk, and hear the story of the unheralded Canadian Commander, James Clouston, who organized much of the ‘miracle’ at Dunkirk. There is a wonderful small Museum to honour the ‘Miracle of Dunkirk’, which travelers can visit (admission not included) if they prefer not to do the Guided Tour of the sites. After time to purchase lunch, Continue on to Dieppe.

Begin your visit to Dieppe with a walk along the main beaches where Canada’s Second Division made its fateful landing on August 19th, 1942, spearheading the attack that was known as Operation Jubilee. Over 900 Canadians died on these and related beaches in a matter of hours that morning in what has been one of the most controversial events in Canadian military history. Continue on to view the main beaches from a promontory overlooking the city, before moving on to visit one of the satellite beaches, known as Green Beach, at Pourville. After your visit, check into your Dieppe-area hotel for a one-night stay. Dinner on your own tonight

Day 6 – Friday July 13 – to NORMANDY      B
Check out of your hotel and depart for the beautiful port city of Honfleur. Spend the morning exploring this quaint city, famous for Canadians as the port from which Samuel de Champlain sailed to New France. While there, be sure to explore the unique Church of Sainte-Catherine, constructed in the 15th century by ships’ carpenters and the picturesque Vieux Bassin, or Old Dock area. Before bidding farewell to Honfleur, purchase lunch in the waterfront area, a mecca for seafood lovers. Re-board your coach and continue your journey, stopping en route for an afternoon tasting of Calvados, the apple brandy for which Normandy is famous. Continue on to your hotel and check in for a four-night stay. This evening, explore the town and enjoy dinner on your own in a local restaurant.

Day 7 – Saturday July 14 – NORMANDY B
Board your coach and transfer to Pegasus Bridge. Join historian Chris Evans in visiting this site, the major objective of British Airborne troops during the opening minutes of the D-Day invasion. Joined by members of the First Canadian Parachute Battalion, the British Airborne succeeded in taking the bridge and hampering German counter attack efforts. After your visit, re-board the coach and continue on to St Aubin-sur-Mer to visit the landing site of the North Shore Regiment on D-Day and Bernières-sur-Mer, where the Queen’s Own Rifles landed. While there, visit the iconic La Maison Queen’s Own Rifles, otherwise known as Canada House, and related monuments. From here, some may choose to join Chris Evans to walk the beaches to Courseulles-sur-Mer, enjoying an optional pre-paid packed lunch to eat along the way ($21.00). Others may prefer to board the coach for the short ride to Courseulles-sur-Mer, and purchase lunch on the beachfront while they wait for the walkers to arrive. This afternoon, visit the Juno Beach Centre, located on Mike Red Beach, where the Royal Winnipeg Rifles landed on the morning of D-Day. Participate in an excellent beaches tour conducted by one of the superb young guides, then tour the collection at the Centre on your own. After your visit, continue to Nan Red Beach and visit the site where the Regina Rifles landed and the Duplex Drive Sherman Tank, Bold, which sank on D-Day and was subsequently recovered from the bottom of the English Channel. Conclude the busy day’s program with a visit to Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, and pay respects to the 2,048 casualties of D-Day and the battles immediately following the invasion. Conclude the day with dinner on your own.

Day 8 – Sunday July 15 – NORMANDY          B
After breakfast in the hotel, today presents the opportunity of either independent sightseeing, or an optional excursion (additional costs apply).
(1) Depart for Arromanches with Chris Evans, and begin at the overview of the Mulberry B portable harbour, one of two harbours constructed clandestinely in Britain and towed to France in the wake of the invasion forces. Before departing the overview, take time to view the excellent Arromanches 360 Circular Cinema. Continue on to the townsite of Arromanches and a break for lunch on your own. After lunch, the tour continues on the beach, featuring the remnants of Mulberry B Harbour. Continue on to Longues-sur-Mer German Battery, part of the Atlantic Wall constructed in 1944. Take time to walk among the well preserved casements with their 152 mm guns and coastal observation post. Re-board your coach and transfer to Abbaye d’Ardennes on the outskirts of Caen, where the 12th SS Panzer Division of the Hitler Youth, commanded by SS Standartenfuhrer Kurt Meyer, executed 20 members of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and Sherbrooke Fusiliers in the days immediately after D-Day. Follow this with a visit to Villons-les-Buissons and the monument there to the fighting at Hell’s Corners. ($10.00)
(2) Should you wish a change from today’s activities on the Normandy coast, you may wish to pursue independent sightseeing. Suggestions will be provided, based on the location of the hotel.  Dinner is on your own this evening.

Day 9 – Monday July 16 – NORMANDY COAST OR BAYEUX       B
After breakfast in the hotel, you may wish to spend your last day in Normandy exploring Bayeux on your own, or visiting more of the Normandy coast. The coach will make a stop in Bayeux for anyone who wishes to spend the day exploring the medieval centre of this quaint town, with its cobble-stoned streets, timber-framed houses, and towering Notre-Dame Cathedral, consecrated in 1077 in the presence of William the Conqueror.
For those who wish, the coach will continue with Chris Evans to visit more sites along the coast of Normandy. Sainte-Mère-Église is the famous town that was an early objective on D-Day and one of the first towns liberated by the Americans. Hear harrowing stories of the parachutists as they landed, illuminated by the fires of the burning buildings, in full view of the German soldiers below, and the tale of paratrooper John Steele, of the 505th Parachute Infantry Division, as he hung with his chute impaled on the church spire for hours, playing dead, only to be taken captive by the Germans. Re-assemble as a group and return, stopping at Omaha Beach to visit the bloodiest of all D-Day beaches, made famous in the film Saving Private Ryan.
Following the visit to the Normandy coast, the coach will return to Bayeux, where you will have an opportunity to purchase dinner on your own, before returning as a group to your hotel.

Day 10 – Tuesday July 17 – to PARIS        B/L/D
Check out of your hotel, and depart for Paris. On the way, make a stop at the Canadian Battlefields Foundation viewpoint near St-Lambert-sur-Dives in the Falaise Gap where Canadians and Poles led the effort at closing the gap to trap an army of nearly 100,000 Germans. Also, hear of the exploits of Major David Currie as he won the Victoria Cross in the battle to close the gap. From here, continue to Giverny, and enjoy a group lunch at La Capucine Café Restaurant. Following lunch, enjoy a self-guided visit to the home and gardens of Claude Monet to see the setting from which the artist drew his inspiration. Continue into Paris where you will check into your hotel for a four-night stay. Enjoy dinner as a group tonight. If you still have energy to burn, you may choose an evening walk in downtown Paris, or perhaps a metro ride to the Eiffel Tower, or a walk along the Seine.

Day 11 – Wednesday July 18 – PARIS        B
Following breakfast, meet your coach and local expert guide for a guided city tour of Paris. Among some of the highlights you may see are the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Élysées, les Invalides, The Louvre, Luxembourg Gardens, and Opéra Garnier. At the end of the tour, say goodbye to your coach and driver, who will now be leaving the group. Transportation will be by metro (tickets will be provided) for your remaining time in Paris.
Time to purchase lunch and explore the Latin Quarter. This afternoon, join your tour manager on a stroll across Ile de la Cité, where you will stop to visit Notre-Dame Cathedral and Centre Pompidou, with its “inside out” architecture. You will have the rest of the day/evening to enjoy Paris on your own. You may want to consider a cruise along the Seine, which is exceptionally beautiful in the evening.

Day 12 – Thursday July 19 – PARIS         B
Today and this evening are to do as you wish in Paris. You may wish to choose one of the following organized options (at additional cost):
Hop-On/Hop-Off Big Bus Tour: This 2-day bus pass allows you to discover the sights of Paris aboard an open-top, double-decker bus. Admire panoramic views of top Paris attractions including the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Moulin Rouge and more, all while listening to audio commentary. Follow two easy routes, and hop on and off at any of the 15 stops around town. ($59.00)
The Army Museum: Join Chris Evans as he leads you to les Invalides, a massive collection of buildings all dedicated to French military history throughout the ages. Everything from one of Napoleon’s horses to the emperor himself and literally tons of WWII equipment are on display. Not to be missed! ($20.00)
Palace of Versailles: You will be transported back to the Golden Age of France with a trip to the Palace of Versailles, emblem of French royalty and extravagance. This half-day tour includes transport to and from Paris, entrance into the Palace and individual audio guides (recorded tour with headset) in the palace. Your audio guide will enable you to discover the State apartments of the King and Queen, the Royal Chapel and Hall of Mirrors. You will also have time to explore the manicured gardens “a la française”, which mirrors the splendour of the interior. ($83.00)
Dinner this evening is on your own.
Paris Lido: After dinner, you may opt to attend the 9:00pm show at the world-renowned Lido de Paris cabaret, an unforgettable evening known for its exotic shows, including dancers, singers and other performers. ($159.00)

Day 13 – Friday July 20 – PARIS          B/D
Today, your final day in Paris, is a day to do as you wish. You may choose to join today’s optional activity (at additional cost):
Louvre Museum: Join your guide on a journey from one breathtaking gallery to the next as you travel through time visiting works dating from nearly 450 BCE through the 19th century. This tour will allow you to see some of the museum’s most famous works, including the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory and Liberty Leading the People. This half-day tour helps you make the most of your time in the Louvre with an expert English-speaking guide and pre-booked entrance ticket. ($70.00)
Alternatively, you may choose to explore any of Paris’ unique districts, or perhaps spend some time shopping at the Galeries Lafayette or along the Champs-Élysées. Your tour hosts will also offer other suggestions of activities which you can pursue using the Paris metro, including a tour by Chris Evans showcasing medieval Paris. This evening, reconvene with the group to celebrate the trip with a farewell dinner, to reminisce about the great experiences you have had.

Day 14 – Saturday July 21 – HOME TO CANADA       B/M
After an early breakfast at the hotel, a local coach will arrive to transfer you to Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Airport for your flight back to Toronto.

B – Breakfast / pB – Packed Breakfast / L – Lunch / pL – Packed Lunch / D – Dinner /
M – Airline Meal / S – Snack – denote meals included in tour cost

Please advise your group leader in advance of any allergy and/or dietary restriction, so that we can advise our suppliers of the request. Not every location may be able to accommodate allergy and/or meal requirements for unique circumstances.

*Itinerary is tentative and subject to final confirmation

What’s Included

  • International flights Toronto/Paris/Toronto
  • Air taxes (as of April 10, 2017)
  • Private motorcoach service up to Day 11
  • 20 metro tickets per person in Paris
  • 12 nights hotel accommodation
  • Breakfast daily, 3 group dinners and 2 group lunches
  • Admissions/entry fees, per itinerary
  • All applicable taxes & service charges
  • Tour Hosts Neil Orford and Chris Evans
  • Services of an Ellison Tours Tour Manager

What’s Not Included

  • Passport application & processing fees
  • Baggage handling
  • Meals other than mentioned above
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities (drivers and guides)
  • Manulife Insurance – see rates under the Insurance tab
  • Single Supplement – $1140.00 (subject to availability)
  • Add-on flights to/from Toronto
  • Optional Tours – see list below

There are a number of optional arrangements you can choose in order to accommodate your level of interest in the historical/military or cultural aspects of your destination.  See tour itinerary for details about the options.  We must know your choices in advance in order to secure reservations where necessary.

Please review the options and pricing below, and indicate your tour options on the online booking form.

Day 4:
•  Afternoon city tour of Bruges with local guide (minimum 8 people required) – $30.00
•  Afternoon visit to Adegem Canadian War Museum – $30.00

Day 7:
• Packed lunch for optional beach walk from St-Aubin to Courseulles-sur-Mer – $21.00

Day 8:
•  Chris Evans’ Battle Tour, including entrance to Arromanches 360 Circular Cinema – $10.00

Day 9:
• Chris Evans’ Battle tour to St-Mère-Église and Omaha Beach – no additional cost

Day 12:
•  2-day ticket for the Hop-On/Hop-Off Big Bus Tour – $59.00
• Chris Evans’ visit to The Army Museum – $20.00
•  Visit and audio-guided tour to Palace of Versailles, with transportation from central Paris – $83.00
•  Evening show at The Lido, including a glass of champagne – $159.00

Day 13:
• Visit and guided tour of Louvre Museum (minimum 8 people required) – $70.00


Ellison Travel & Tours strongly recommends the purchase of trip Cancellation and Interruption insurance, and Comprehensive Assistance, Health Coverage, Individual Accident Coverage and Baggage and Personal Effects insurance.  Further details are available from your planner or the following link to a sample policy outlining terms and conditions:  https://www.igoinsured.com/TravelWeb/auth/mlwd/forms/policy.pdf

Below, please find the costs for the following insurances – please note that some restrictions may apply for those with ongoing illnesses or taking medication.

Coverage is for group tour dates of July 8-21, 2018 and the rates are based on twin pricing, not including optional tour inclusions.  Additional rates are available for further coverage in the event a participant wishes to extend their trip, purchase a single supplement or optional tour inclusions.  Please call for insurance rates based on these scenarios.  All rates are subject to provincial sales tax, where applicable.

Age at time of depositManulife Premium Protection Plan1Manulife All-Inclusive Package Plan2Manulife Non-Medical Inclusive Package Plan3

1 Manulife Premium Protection Plan (coverage includes emergency medical, cancellation and interruption, travel disruption, baggage loss, damage and delay, and travel accident. These benefits provide coverage for accidents, injuries, unexpected illnesses and other unforeseen events that occur during the policy period unless the event or situation causing your claim is specifically excluded in the policy section “What Does This Policy Not Cover?”).

2 Manulife All-Inclusive Package Plan (coverage for all Canadian residents who have a valid provincial health card – includes emergency medical, cancellation and interruption, baggage loss, damage and delay, and travel accident).

3 Manulife Non-Medical Insurance Package Plan (coverage includes cancellation and interruption, baggage loss, damage and delay, and travel accident).

**Other types of insurance are available.  Please contact your tour planner for package details and rates.

Should you choose to purchase this insurance, any of the three above packages must be purchased at time of initial deposit.

$4,730.00 CAD / $4,899.00 Canadian Per person
based on 30 passengers / 25 passengers in twin accommodations

  • Deposit of $600.00 per person + insurance at time of booking
  • 2nd payment of $1,000.00 per person due November 8, 2017
  • Balance due May 8, 2018

NOTE: Your payment will be processed when the minimum number of tour participants has been reached

Payment options: credit card, cheque, RBC Rewards, CWT or Ellison Travel Gift Certificates

To reserve your seat on this very special tour please fill out the online booking form

Book Now!
Printable Flyer & Itinerary