WWI History Tour: The Centennial
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Date(s) - 05/11/2018 - 12/11/2018
All Day



Essential History Expeditions Customized This Private WWI Tour for Four Friends

It has been 100 years since the guns fell silent and World War I ended. Still, the events of that era continue to shape and affect our world today. Four major monarchies and empires collapsed in history’s greatest shift in European and world power. The United States and the Soviet Union became major global players out of the ashes. The new map of the world created from the war continues to have significant impact on current events.

The war had been underway for nearly three years when the United States entered WWI on the Allied side in April 1917. However, it would be another year until the American forces finally made their impact on the battlefield. And it was a decisive impact that demonstrated the unflinching resolve of freedom-loving peoples and brought an end to the bloodiest conflict in human history to that point. If your mind is set on a belief that World War I was nothing but static trench warfare and no movement, you will be surprised to encounter the American fighting forces involved in one great maneuver offensive after another. We now, at the centennial, have the incredible opportunity to follow in the footsteps of these young Americans in this Great War expedition.

This End of World War I history tour will bring guests to the verdant fields; and villages, towns and cities where the youth of America made their most indelible mark. From the Rock of the Marne 3rd Infantry Division at Chateau-Thierry, to the Marines at Belleau Wood; from American infantrymen assaulting the lines at St Quentin Canal and the St Mihiel Salient, to the largest battle in American history in the Meuse-Argonne. From the story of the Lost Battalion, to Sergeant York’s exploits, to the four Roosevelt brothers, and so many other iconic stories and sites. We will also pay respect to our allies by visiting the tremendous British battles at Ypres/Passchendaele and the French heroic stand at Verdun (Ils ne passeront pas!).

The World War I history tour unfolds over eight days with stories of all the allied participants as well as those of the German defenders. In addition, Essential History Expeditions guests will visit important cities that played key roles in the war’s end, including:

  • Paris: capital of France and nexus of control over the vast French colonial possessions. We will explore the Invalides’ WWI exhibits, and walk some of the WWI sites in central Paris, including the memorial at the Arc de Triomphe.
  • Reims: the city of Kings! In its great Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims nearly every French monarch was crowned over the long centuries. We will also visit Eisenhower’s final WWII headquarters, including the map room where the Germans surrendered to the Western Allies on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day!).
  • Ypres: the town in Belgian Flanders where the British and their Commonwealth partners suffered some of their most horrific battles, and eventual triumph, in three major actions in the war. It is also the site of their most important commemorations.
  • Compiegne: where the Germans surrendered in WWI and the French initially surrendered in WWII. It is also an amazing small city of rich history including the capture of Joan of Arc, and where Louis XIV and the two Napoleons had chateaux and palaces.

The rich farmland, the quaint villages and the dramatic hills and forests of France and Belgium create an incredibly memorable backdrop for this World War I centennial history tour.

private WWI history tour
private WWI history tour Essential History Expeditions


Paris history tour EHE
WWI tour


  • Arrive in Paris
  • On your own time
  • Hotel night in Paris included

Day 1

  • Meet at central Paris hotel for breakfast, welcome and overview
  • Depart for a tour of World War I Paris, including:
  • National War Memorial at the Arc de Triomphe
  • Visit to the Invalides – national military museum with Great War exhibit and tomb of French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Allied Commander in 1918
  • Discussion of Paris’ role in the critical First Battle of the Marne in 1914
  • Dinner in Epernay, the heart of the Champagne region, home to Moet & Chandon/Dom Perignon
  • Check-in to hotel in Champagne region, a charming boutique hotel in Reims

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Chateau-Thierry (May-June 1918) – The 3rd Infantry Division (the “Rock of the Marne”) stops the German attack and the tide of the battle shifts to the allies. This is a major turning point.
  • In Belleau Wood (June 1918) – we will see the 2nd Infantry Division and its attached Marines counterattack into the thick forest where the Germans have approached near the Marne. To this day it remains sacred ground for the “Devil Dog” Marines
  • American Aisne-Marne and German Cemeteries at Belleau Wood
  • Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne Offensives July-September 1918). (July-September 1918) – the Americans’ first major Army-size attack drives the Germans back in the summer of 1918. These are slogging battles that see the Americans push deep into the German lines. One of the major assault units is MacArthur’s 42d Infantry (the “Rainbow Division”) and we will follow its advance.
  • American Oise-Aisne cemetery.
  • Dinner in Reims
  • Hotel night in Reims

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Verdun – site of the epic French defense and victory in 1916; this battle shapes the remainder of the war through its intense fighting and the incredible casualties sustained by both French and Germans.
  • St Mihiel Salient (September 1918) – Before the major offensive can be conducted by General Pershing’s Americans in the Argonne Forest, he first has to eliminate a bulge in the allied lines. The attack succeeds when the Americans break into the salient led by Colonel George Patton’s tanks.
  • St Mihiel American Cemetery
  • Dinner in Reims
  • Hotel night in Reims
Belleau Wood World War I tour
French Countryside
Montfaucon Monument WWI France Tour

Day 4

  • Breakfast
  • Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 11 to November 1918) – the largest American battle in history, and the biggest American contribution to Allied victory. This day will find us at many remarkable sites, including Harry Truman’s artillery battery, Sergeant Alvin York’s capture of 132 Germans in his one-man crusade, and the incredible story of the Lost Battalion and its fight.
  • Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery – the largest resting place of Americans in Europe
  • Montfaucon Monument and Sommepy Monument – dramatic monuments to the Americans in the Great War. Montfaucon was a significant German defensive position and its capture and control will allow the Americans to advance deep into the heart of the German line, breaking it apart for the final drive to victory!
  • Dinner at the award-winning Le Parc restaurant at Les Crayeres

Day 5

  • Breakfast
  • Visit two sites in Reims, one of the most famous and beautiful cities in France:
  • The Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims, which played an important ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France
  • Surrender Museum, a former school building, where the Germans surrendered to Eisenhower on May 8, 1945 in the map room that remains set as it was on that day!
  • St Quentin Canal (September-October 1918) – the Americans, alongside Australian and other British troops, break through the Hindenburg Line in the last months of the war, turning the stalemate into a race toward Germany.
  • Somme American Cemetery
  • The battlefield at Mons, Belgium – site of Britain’s first battle in the war, August 1914. After briefly holding up the German advance, the BEF began its long retreat toward Paris
  • Dinner
  • Hotel night in Mons, Belgium

Day 6

  • Breakfast
  • Attend morning ceremony for German, British and Commonwealth troops at Mons St Symphorien cemetery. Here the soldiers are almost equally divided between Germans and Commonwealth. In addition, the first Commonwealth soldier to be killed in the war (August 1914) and the last Commonwealth soldier killed (November 11, 1918) lie here.
  • Visit a portion of the battlefields near Ypres. The three battles for this Belgian town (the last is sometimes called Passchendaele, as well) were some of the bloodiest and hardest-fought of the war.
  • Dinner
  • Attend 8pm ceremony at the Menin Gate for the soldiers of Ypres (a nightly tradition for decades)
  • Hotel night vicinity of Ypres

Day 7

  • Breakfast
  • Attend the Commonwealth and Belgian ceremony in Ypres at 11am as the guns fell silent 100 years ago. This will be the largest and most important Commonwealth ceremony on the continent. Details have not yet been released but will include bands, speeches, wreath-layings and more.
  • Lunch in Ypres
  • Afternoon will consist of continuing the festivities in Ypres with the Belgians and Commonwealth visitors and/or visiting more of the Ypres battlefields.
  • Dinner
  • Hotel night vicinity of Ypres

Day 8

  • Breakfast
  • Return drive to Paris with stops enroute
  • Visit to Ypres/Passchendaele battlefields (if not completed on 11th)
  • Compiegne
  • Historic town of Joan of Arc
  • Château de Compiègne, a royal residence built for Louis XIV and restored by Napoleon
  • Railway car site for the surrenders in November 1918 and June 1940. The victory monument placed here by the people of Alsace and Lorraine is a truly dramatic image.
  • Return to Paris and end of the expedition
WWI private tour
WWI private tour
WWI memorial ceremony
France history tour


  • Let’s set up a conference call! We would love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have.
  • Just complete the contact form below and let’s set up a call.
WWI History Tour: The Centennial 05/11/2018 - 12/11/2018 All Day WWI History Tour: The Centennial WWI History Tour: The Centennial This private WWI history tour explores the centennial of the end of WWI through the events, locations and personalities that created a new world order in the greatest shift in European and world power. The new map of the world created from the war continues to Mission Critical Systems 05-11-2018T00:00 05-11-2018T23:59 Active Active 05-11-2018 Active $0.00 05-11-2018
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