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Vimy Ridge is sight of one of the most historic battles of World War One. Canadian forces and German forces fought each other at Vimy Ridge. There were over 10,000 casualties between the two forces.
The Canadian forces gained control of Vimy Ridge after four days of battle. Germany didn’t attempt to regain control of Vimy, and the battle of Vimy Ridge is cited as the beginning of the end of WWI.
You can easily visit Vimy Ridge as a day trip from Paris, so it is easily accessible and doesn’t require you to relocate to a different French city to visit the sight.
It is an easy day trip, but there are a number of things you should know, so you are able to plan a well-organized trip and know what to expect before getting to Vimy Ridge.
1. You Will Have to Take a Taxi to and from Vimy Ridge
You will have to take a taxi from the Arras train station to the Vimy Ridge battle sight and back again. There is no public transportation that goes from the train station to the battle sight.
This is unfortunate because there are enough tourists that visit Vimy Ridge that it would be beneficial to both the bus company and the tourists to have a bus run between the two locations.
That, however, isn’t a reality at the moment, so taking a taxi is your only option if you don’t have a car.
The taxi ride costs approximately €20 each way, so it is quite affordable if you have multiple people taking the same taxi. There are always taxis outside the train station, so you can easily pick one up when you get off the train.
Your taxi driver will probably give you their card to call them when you are ready to return to the train station. The employees at Vimy Ridge are more than happy to call you a taxi when you are ready to return to the station.
You can either have them call the same taxi driver who drove you to the battle sight, or they can call one of the other taxi drivers in the area. They have a huge stack of taxi driver cards they can use to make sure you get a taxi back to town as soon as possible.
It is a bit of an inconvenience to have to take a taxi to Vimy Ridge rather than public transportation, but it really isn’t too much of a hardship. Many tourists do this everyday, so it is pretty standard practice.
2. It is Free to Visit Vimy Ridge
You don’t have to pay an admission fee to visit Vimy Ridge. It is completely free to tour the sight. They do accept donations, but it is not necessary.
You are able to tour the war trenches, the museum, and the war monument all for free. This makes up for having to spend money on a taxi to get there!
You have access to a lot of information about this historic sight, so there could easily be an admission fee. Your donations go a long way in helping operate Vimy Ridge, so you should consider donating a few Euros if you have the means to.
3. All the Employees are Canadian University Students
Vimy Ridge is operated by the Canadian War Museum. The land the battle sight is on was gifted to the Canadian government, and it was turned into a memorial sight.
All of the employees are Canadian university students. They take a leave from university to work a four month shift at Vimy Ridge. The selection process is intense, and there is a lot of competition for the jobs.
All of the guides are bilingual. They are required to be fluent in both English and French, so they can easily answer any questions tourists and locals have. They are highly knowledgeable on WWI and all of the political and military aspects of the war.
The students love engaging with guests, so you should ask them any questions you have! It is amazing how much they know. They also offer a Canadian perspective on the issues, so it is a perspective you don’t often get to hear unless you’re a Canadian or visit Canada.
Even though the students are there to teach you about the battle, you should ask them about their professional and academic lives as well. They are always incredibly accomplished and inspiring young adults.
4. There is a Free Guided Tour
The highlight of your trip to Vimy Ridge will be the guided tour. You tour the trenches and the underground tunnel where Canadian forces stood silently for 24 hours before the battle began.
You can’t access these areas on your own, so you will have to take the tour to see them. The tour is offered in both English and French. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.
You can ask an employee where the tour starts. There is a limited number of people allowed on each tour for safety reasons, so you will want to queue up a few minutes before the tour begins on busy days.
You are given a lot of information on this short tour. The tour guides do an incredible job of explaining the importance of the battle and what lead up to it. They also explain the hardships the soldiers faced and why WWI was unlike any other war.
You should not miss taking the tour- especially because it is free!
5. Visit Arras if You Have Time to Spare
Arras is a beautiful city. It has a gorgeous town square. There are a lot of restaurants around the square, so it is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before you go back to Paris. There is outdoor seating in the spring and summer, which makes it even more enjoyable.
Arras is a small town. You can easily walk around the centre of it in an hour or two. It is easy to visit the important parts of the town if you have a couple of hours to spare before your train leaves.
You can visit a church, the main shopping street, and the town square in a fairly short amount of time. The town is small, so you can easily walk everywhere including to the train station.
Vimy Ridge is the perfect day trip from Paris for people who love history. You get to tour an actual battlefield while learning about its history. You learn about what happened while standing where it happened, so it is a very unique experience.
Vimy Ridge is an important part of history. The Canadian government has worked hard at creating a sight that tourists are able to visit to learn about WWI. It is well managed and makes for an educational experience. Europe is filled with history, but there aren’t too many places where you can stand in a battlefield.
You won’t regret visiting Vimy Ridge. You should definitely consider it as a day trip if you have extra time in Paris.