Guided Tours for Battle of the Somme in France
There is little need to remind the average admirer or student of history of the devastating impact of the Battle of the Somme on human life. In all, over a million soldiers suffered death or injury as a result of World War I’s bloodiest, costliest battle. Though technically an allied success, the battle’s bloody nature typified the futility and tragedy of trench warfare in general, marking the true beginnings of mechanised warfare and the machine-gun age.
It can be haunting, then, to visit the site of the Somme, but also a rewarding and sobering experience. Instead of doing your own orienteering, however, it’s more prudent to seek out an official, guided tour of the Somme in order to ensure you have the most informative and complete Somme experience- this article details the best Somme guided tours available.
WWI Battle Weekend Tour (Backroads Touring)
One of the main reasons for the success and positivity surrounding this tour is the fact it is comprised of small groups (these range between 15 and 18 people in size), allowing for a more intimate experience and the chance to experience in person the many memorials and cemeteries that pay tribute to the fallen. Starting at £430pp, this isn’t the cheapest tour on this list, but it is certainly the best and most intimate introduction to the Somme’s battlegrounds. You can check booking availability here at Backroads Touring.
Walking the Somme (Battlefield Tours by Leger Holidays)
Leger Holidays offer an incredibly diverse selection of battlefield tours for many battles from multiple conflicts, and their WWI selection is nothing short of staggering. The most notable of these is Walking the Somme, however, a tour marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The focus of this newly-updated version of the tour is on the first day: July 1 1916. Expect to arrive and settle in on Day 1, start the tour at Gommecourt and on Day 2 with a look at the Pals Battalion after lunch , with Day 3 of the 4-day tour focusing on Redan Ridge and the battlefield of Thiepval.
This is a 5-day tour starting at £469pp, and while not being the cheapest on this list, it certainly is one of the most comprehensive Somme tours available. This is available from VisitBattlefields.co.uk.
Somme Strolls II 2016 (Battle Honours)
This particular tour has an impressively wide scope in terms of the military history it covers. While some tours tend to focus too much on the opening days of the war, Somme Strolls II is a centenary special, taking its walkers through the history and realities of the Battle of the Somme, covering information from its July beginnings to September. The tour has been updated in 2016 in order to focus on September, after previous years’ tours focused more closely at the October offensive.
it is difficult to emphasis the level of detail this tour involves, with each of its days being dedicated to the main offensives during the Somme Offensive: 1st July, 14th July, and 15th September in 1916. Battle Honours reminds us that this tour takes its walkers off the beaten track, resulting in a quieter experience that can be enjoyed by those who wish to experience the tranquillity of the Somme whilst taking in its history. This tour isn’t cheap, costing £700pp, but the detail of the tour and the depth of the guides’ knowledge makes Somme Strolls II an excellent tour to experience.
Somme Tour (The Battlefields Experience)
If you’re looking for a much shorter tour experience that can be enjoyed in a single day, the Somme tour from The Battlefields Experience is the perfect choice. This single-day tour involves being collected by your guide at 9:00 from Arras station. From here, you will experience the many areas of the Somme, starting with Serre and the Pals Battalions where forces were effectively wiped out on 1st July 1916. The tour also looks at the 1918 battles centring around Amiens.
This is one of the more affordable tours on this list, costing just €150 for the day. The downside is that the tour is less relaxing than the 3 or 4-day tours available from other operators, but this is certainly an affordable tour of the highest quality. More information can be found here: http://thebattleofthesomme.co.uk/sommeDayTour.html.
Two-Day Somme Tour (Terres De Memoire)
This is arguably one of the highest-rated Somme tours ever to have existed, with over 200 5-star reviews on Tripadvisor. The two-day tour is of course the more comprehensive experience, perfect for those looking to truly experience the battlefields and memorials of the Somme in person.
Unusually, the tour begins at Villiers-Breonneux, focusing firstly on the 1918 offensives, before moving on to Somme and Ypres on Day 2. The price of the tour of your choice is available on request from the official website, and more information about the 2-Day tour can be found at this link: http://www.terresdememoire.com/our-tours/the-two-day-tour/.