The Somme battlefields areas are located in the Picardie region of France, and are about 75 miles inland, more or less south from Calais. The town most central to the Somme battlefield area is Albert, but other possible bases for a stay are Amiens and Arras. See the Staying in the Somme page for more information on the options.
Driving - Crossing the Channel
The most convenient and quickest option to cross the channel is Eurotunnel; even with the new security arrangements which can make the check in process a little longer, the Eurotunnel crossing time is just over half an hour and of course you drive straight off once you reach the terminal in Calais to get on with your journey.
You can also cross by ferry; there are two companies currently operating Dover to Calais. These are DFDS and P&O. The crossing time is 1½ - 2 hours.
Direct Ferries offer prices for both ferry companies as well as Eurotunnel.
From Calais, to reach Albert there are several options, which may depend on traffic conditions on the day. The distance is about 100 miles. The routes all start by following the A16 motorway towards Dunkirk (Dunkerque) and Lille, but only for about 3 miles. At the junction with the A26/E16 motorway, you should head south on the A26 towards St. Omer, Arras and Reims. This motorway is a peage – toll road – although the toll section does not start immediately. Often the quickest route is to follow the motorway for about 64 miles until the exit for A1/E15/E17 signposted Arras-Est, Lille, Paris. Keep left on the slip road, following signs for Arras-Est and Paris. Merge onto the A1 motorway, and follow this road for about 15 miles. Exit at jn 14 signed Bapaume, Albert, which is where you will pay the toll (about €10) for the journey.
Once through the toll booths the route to Albert is well signposted (follow the D917 ring road around Bapaume and then the D929 toward Albert). The D929 is a straight road, and before long you will see signs relating to the Great War sites – cemeteries, positions reached during the 1916 battles, and other features.
It’s possible to reach Albert by rail from the UK via Eurostar from Lille – trains run every 2-3 hours and the journey (from Gare de Lille Flandres) takes just under an hour. However, reaching many of the sites on the Somme battlefields by public transport is very difficult, and having a vehicle is preferable if possible. You can hire cars from Lille or from Paris, or in Amiens or Arras, but not in Albert itself.
There were hopes that when a small airport opened just south of Albert that this might cater for the battlefield visitor from the UK, but it is largely a business airport for cargo and private flights. The nearest useful airport to the Somme battlefields is probably Paris, with around a 3 hour train journey to reach Albert.