Visiting Ypres and the Salient - Belgian Flanders
World War One Battlefields has been on the web since 2004. It provides an online guide to areas of the Western Front as they are today, with historical information and photographs alongside modern photos of each area.
MAY 27th 2021 UPDATE: Apart from a short period last summer, for over 12 months visits to the Western Front battlefields have been impossible due to the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions. The latest UK guidance is that both France and Belgium are on the “Amber” list of countries – meaning that although in theory, it is possible to visit, expensive tests and self-isolation at home are required on return. In any event, France currently requires arrivals from the UK to isolate after arrival for 7 days, so in reality, a visit to the battlefields remains impossible.
France had earlier announced that from June 9th, these restrictions would be relaxed for travellers from outside the EU provided they have a “health pass” – although it is not yet clear what this means. However, France has just announced tighter restrictions on those travelling to France from the UK, which will come into effect on May 31st. This is because of the so-called “Indian variant” of Covid-19 and its increasing prevalence in the UK. So travel to the Somme remains unlikely in the immediate future, sadly.
Once it is possible to travel to the Western Front battlefields again, this website provides practical information – see pages on Visiting the Somme and Visiting Ypres. There is information on how to best reach the battlefields and where to stay. For those with limited time, there is a page listing Five must-see Somme sites – useful if you have only one day to spend in the area. Helping you to make the most of your battlefield visit is the main purpose of this website.
There are many more pages on what to see in the two main areas of interest on the Western Front, Ypres/Flanders and the Somme. For Flanders, these include Tyne Cot, the Menin Gate in Ypres and Passchendaele, whilst in the Somme, there are pages on the Thiepval Memorial, the Newfoundland Memorial Park and Beaumont Hamel, among others.
The most recent site update is a page covering Fromelles, a site with links to the Australians, and the most recent war cemetery created by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Another new page covers Villers-Brettonneux, in the Somme area and again associated particularly with the Australians. Other recent updates are to the Bayernwald page (with information added on Croonaert Chapel Cemetery) and to the Plugstreet page.
There are some excellent guidebooks and other resources for visiting the battlefields. These are also listed on the relevant pages.