UPDATE 30th JULY 2021: 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 UK Government has placed France on an “Amber Plus” status – meaning that even fully vaccinated travellers would have to quarantine for 10 days on their return. This has effectively put France out of reach for the vast majority – even though there are stories now emerging that the risk of the Beta variant which prompted this was based on data that included cases from the French territory of Reunion (which ironically is on the Amber list itself).
Albert is the most central town to use as a base for the Somme battlefields. However, it has to be said that it’s not the most pleasant town or the greatest place to stay in other respects. Although there are now a few more hotels than a few years ago, there is not a great deal of choice for accommodation or for places to eat out.
If you do want to stay in Albert then the best hotel near the town is the Best Western Hotel Royal Picardie on the west side of town (the D4929 road leading out towards the D929). There is also a modern ibis hotel located on the north-east side, on the D929 heading toward Bapaume. I have stayed at both, and they are perfectly fine, but unless you want to eat at the hotel restaurant you’ll need to either walk into the centre of Albert (a good 20 minutes walk) or drive somewhere each night to eat.
In terms of restaurants, there are a few to choose from in Albert, but nothing like the selection you can find in Ypres.
There are quite a number of options here, as a number of specialist self-catering (and bed and breakfast) bases are available, many run by Brits who have settled in the area due to their own interest in the Great War. Sites like Airbnb and HomeAway can offer a useful way to search the available options.
If staying in self-catering accommodation, then there are several supermarkets – a small Simply store on the main square where there is ample parking and a market. There is also an Intermarche, and a Super U (this also has a petrol station which is usually one of the cheaper places in the area for fuel).
Amiens or Arras
Because Albert although very central has some limitations as a base, it’s possible to stay in either Arras or Amiens instead and drive each day to the Somme battlefields. Both are much larger towns; Arras is probably the more attractive and is about a 40 minute drive from the centre to the main Somme battlefields area.
From Amiens it is a similar distance but the drive takes 5-10 minutes longer. Both Amiens and Arras have a much greater choice of hotels and also restaurants. Arras has some Great War attractions in its own right that are worth visiting – see the Arras page for more information.
Another possible base is Peronne – located to the south-east of the battlefields and about a 25 minute drive away from the main battlefield area. Like Albert it a small town with limited hotels, but there are some good restaurants and a bustling local market on Saturdays.