We all know this summer is an important year, commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of world war one. If you’re planning to take a P&O Ferry across the channel to mark this anniversary then we have some key information for the main events to mark this momentous occasion. We’d also advise you to look back at some of our earlier blogs which focus on the major sites and monuments of the Great War.
If, however, you are planning a summer sojourn in France for the family that is more focussed on a fun, escape of environment to explore the new and exciting, or experiment with the strange and perhaps luxurious, then France has plenty to offer.
The major remembrance ceremonies are being held in November to mark the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in memorial of the official armistice. These events will be broadcast across the globe and therefore draw large crowds. If you are the contemplative sort or wish to educate yourself or family on the significance of the battle lines once drawn across Europe then smaller ceremonies and exhibitions will be running from spring for you to visit on your trip to France.
The main summer services include commemorations for the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Arras and Vimy Ridge. Click here for links with details on what’s happening in 2014.
Some may not require a too scholarly approach for their immersion in history. These are some of the events we’ve cherry-picked that will be well worth investigating The Coal Field in 1918: A Devastated Landscape, The Disasters of War in Louvre-Lens and the opening of a new museum in Rue de la Basse Ville The Battle of Fromelles Museum. If you’re visiting the continent this June then keep an eye out for the Europe Run of Unity. A relay run of just over 652 miles, covering the length of the entire Western Front, is passing through Flanders to Strasbourg from the 10th-21st of June.
For more information on the Wilfred Owen Memorial click here.
The list of battlefields you can visit for a guided tour are too numerous to state here but if you have a specific soldier’s story to research the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will help you find graves and memorials for you to book your trip. Walking tours of battlefields will be in high demand but you can certainly pre-book with Visit Battlefield to see the fields where so many gave their lives.
2014 also marks the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings in Normandy on 6th June 1944. The allied landings are to be commemorated with a massive synchronised fireworks display along the 80km beach head from 24 major points of the incursion. There’ll be quite a show for the kids with an air show by the French squadron Patrouille de France and military parades of the vehicles that were used. As well as light shows and concerts and huge picnic on Omaha beach. These events will be held from 1st-15th June so you’ll want to book sooner rather than later. Though the fireworks will be visible for miles around.
The peaceful side of France
Summer is really a time for outdoors when visiting France. Yes there is the Cannes Film Festival (14-25 June) and events like the European Night of Museums, May 17th where museums, galleries and exhibitions all across the continent are open for free until 1am. But when better than summer to glory in the outdoors? Autumn is a time of harvest so if you are visiting the vineyards then you won’t be getting under the feet of the pickers. France’s countryside will be in full bloom and you’ll get plenty of sun should you choose to take to the great out doors.
The International Garden Festival for 2014 begins in June at the estate of Chaumont-sur-Loire Castle. It is essentially a landscape architecture contest but it runs through to September when the winner is announced, the idea being that a garden should be at its most beautiful during autumn. If you’ve got your heart set on a summer holiday the Loire Valley is breathtakingly verdant in the hottest months.
The garden festival is akin to an open air museum/park for landscape architecture. You can take guided tours if you wish to pick up some tips on cutting edge landscaping or just saunter about to smell the roses. The Chaumont garden festival isn’t just about the flowers, you can pay an evening visit during certain summer nights to see the gardens light up. The shapes and shadows cast by the plants at night combined with carefully situated along water features and sculptures gives the castle and gardens an eery transcendence. This year’s theme of nature promises to make for a mythic almost arcane atmosphere.
A holiday to France doesn’t have to mean expensive Parisian hotels and the most dear bottles of wine, champagne and liqueur on the planet. If you are taking the entirely family, or just a trip with a loved one, the best way to cut the budget is to provide you’re own accommodation. Camping holidays are one of the easiest ways to enjoy seeing to France.
P&O Ferries provide cheap fares for the entire family plus your car, so that all you need to do is decide where to set up camp. For tips on camping abroad look to our blog on camping in the north of France. It’s a fantastic way to squeeze those pennies and so that you can spend a bit more time at Disneyland Paris or treating yourself to the fantastic cuisine that France is famous for.
Book your P&O Ferry from Dover to Calais now a 90 minute ferry runs 46 times a day from England to France.