VISITING THE SOMME

SOME NOTES FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS

  Although this area does get many thousands of visitors each year, I have included some general tourist information on this area for those of you who have yet to make the journey, or have only been a few times. Any questions contact me via email.

 

EMAIL PAUL REED

TOURIST OFFICES DELVILLE WOOD
GETTING THERE USEFUL BOOKS
WHERE TO STAY SOMME MAPS
MUSEE DES ABRIS HISTORIAL MUSEUM
ULSTER TOWER THIEPVAL VISITORS CENTRE

 

TOURIST OFFICES

The main tourist office is in Amiens at:

Comité Départmental du Tourisme de La Somme
21 rue Ernst Cauvin
80000 Amiens
France

Tel: 0033 22 71 22 71

Web: http://www.somme-battlefields.com/

The one in Albert often operates bizarre opening times, and an English speaking member of staff is sometimes not available:

Office du Tourisme Albert
9 rue Gambetta
BP 82
80300 Albert
France

Tel: 0033 3 22 75 16 42

Fax: 0033 3 22 75 11 72

Email: office_tourisme_albert@altavista.fr

GETTING THERE

The best route from Calais or the Channel Tunnel is to follow the A26 motorway to near Arras, and then take the A1 direction PARIS, leaving the motorway at Exit 14 BAPAUME. This brings you in to the Somme from the east. If you want to start your tour at the Historial de la Grande Guerre, leave at Exit 13.1 and follow the signs for PERONNE.

WHERE TO STAY

 One of the most common questions I get asked is about accommodation. Here I have listed a sample of the hotels & B&Bs more commonly used by British visitors to the Somme. Mention of a particular establishment is not to be taken as a recommendation, and I cannot be held responsible for any changes in prices or facilities. If you require further information about hotels and other accommodation visit the Somme Tourist Office web site (above) which has up to date information. Click on the link below:

SOMME TOURIST BOARD WEB SITE

One point I will make - book early! The Somme can get busy at times!

HOTELS - ALBERT

HOTEL DE LA PAIX: A regular haunt for many British visitors, especially around the 1st July period, it is a  Logis de France Hotel, and has a good restaurant which can be used by non-guests as well. For further details contact: Hotel de la Paix, 43 rue Victor Hugo, 80300 Albert, France. Tel: 0033.3.22.75.01.64. Fax: 0033.3.22.75.44.17. English spoken.

LE RELAIS FLEURI: A simple, but welcoming Two Star hotel with an excellent restaurant located on the main road in Albert, and only a short walk from the centre. For further details contact: Le Relais Fleuri, 65 avenue Faidherbe, 80300 Albert, France. Tel: 0033.3.22.75.08.11. Fax: 0033.3.22.75.02.15.

LE ROYAL PICARDIE: One of the few 'up market' hotels in the area, it has twenty four rooms and a large restaurant and bar. Located just outside Albert, on the Amiens road. For further details contact: Le Royal Picardie, Avenue Général Leclerc, 80300 Albert, France. 
Tel: 0033.3.22.75.37.00. Fax: 0033 3.22.75.60.19.
Email: ROYALPICARDIE@wanadoo.fr

ENGLISH RUN BED & BREAKFAST

HARDECOURT: Run by English couple, and WFA members, Vic and Diane Piuk, they have three rooms available. Hardecourt is on the Somme French sector, but only a short distance from the main sites, such as Delville Wood. B&B with evening meals: they also have a chalet nearby which you can rent on a self-catering basis. Open all year round. For further details contact: 'Les Allouettes', 10 rue du Mantier, 80360 Hardecourt-aux-Bois, France. Tel/Fax: 0033 3.22.85.14.56.
Email: PVSkylark@aol.com
Web: http://www.lesalouettes.net/

FRENCH RUN BED & BREAKFAST

BERNAFAY WOOD: In the heart of the famous and historic Bernafay Wood, this B&B is run by local French collector/historian Jean-Pierre Matte and his wife. It offers a superb location, within walking distance of Montauban, Trones Wood, Longueval and Delville Wood. Good English spoken. Three rooms available. Prices from 31 € per night. For details and bookings contact: Christine & Jean-Pierre Matte, 55-57 Grande Rue, Bois Bernafay, 80300 Montauban de Picardie, France. 
Tel/Fax: 0033 3.22.85.02.47.
Email: bernafaywood@aol.com
Web: http://bandbbernafaywood.fr.ht/ 

BAYONVILLERS: Useful for the 1918 and Somme River valley areas, Bayonvillers is close to Villers-Bretonneux. This is a B&B on a French farm with two rooms, one for two people and one for four. Both rooms are en-suite, and there is a kitchenette available where you can cook meals. For details and bookings contact: Isabelle & Jean-Francois Dessaint, La Ferme du Vent des Moissons, 80170 Bayonvillers, France. Tel/Fax: 0033 3 22 85 85 84.
Email: LA-FERME-DU-VENT-DES-MOISSONS@wanadoo.fr

FLERS: Accommodation at Otago View in the centre of Flers offered by Peter and Hilary Smith. Four rooms from 35€ per person. Contact: Otago View, 48 rue Principal, 80360 Flers, France. Tel: 0033 3 22 85 47 23. 
Email: mail@fieldsoffrance.com

Web: http://www.fieldsoffrance.com/ 

GINCHY: In the heart of the 1916 battlefields, it is close to all the main battlefield sites and within walking distance of Delville Wood. Some English spoken. Three rooms available, from 35 Euros for one person. For details and bookings contact: Mme Graziella Bouchenez-Mahfad, l'Hermitage,1 Grande Rue, 80360 GINCHY, France. Telephone: 00 33 3 60 70 02 46.  Fax: 00 33 3 22 85 68 38.  Email: graziella.l_hermitage@aliceadsl.fr
Web: http://www.battlefieldshermitage.com/ 

LE SARS: Run by Madame Danièle Roussell, whose son is a WFA member and keen collector of Great War material (his private museum can be viewed by guests), they have five rooms. Close to all the main battle sites, this Gites de France B&B is open all year round. For further details contact: Madame D.Roussell, 37 Route Nationale, 62450 Le Sars, France. Tel : (00 33) 3.21.07.05.01 - Fax : (00 33) 3.21.24.78.10.
Email: Oroussel@aol.com
Web: http://www.memorysomme.com/

POZIÈRES: Ideally situated in the heart of the Somme battlefields, this B&B has one small studio room which a double bed, and one room with twin beds. The rooms are in a private house, independent of the host's own home, have washbasin, shower, and toilet. Closed off-road parking. English spoken. For details and bookings contact: Monsieur C.LOUCHART, 116 route d'Albert, 80300 Pozières, France. Tel/Fax: 0033 3 22 74 60 28.
Email: christian.louchart@club-internet.fr

HOUSES TO RENT

FLERS: Large detached British owned house prominently located in the historic village of Flers and overlooking the famous memorial to the 41st Division. The house is currently being fitted out to an extremely comfortable standard and offers excellent accessibility to all major sites on the Somme Battlefields. The towns of Bapaume, Albert, and the A26 motorway are all within a few minutes drive. The property provides centrally heated and double glazed 2, 3, or 4 bedroom accommodation to suit your individual requirements. For further details contact:  Rory Newsome, West Cottage
Stonepit Lane, Marston, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG32 2JH. Tel: 07917 460 613.
Web: http://www.dinnakenhouse.com/  

HAMEL: Two new Gite de France gites in the middle of the village, close to the Newfoundland Park and Thiepval, as well as all the main locations. Fully equipped with kitchen, TV and central heating, plus garden and BBQ area. Both sleep 4-6 people. For further details contact the owner: Mr Florent Vansuyt, 13 rue d'Hamel, 80300 Beaucourt sur l'Ancre, France. Tel: 0033 3 22 76 18 72. Email: Fvansuyt@aol.com
Or book direct with Gites de France. Tel: 0033 3 22 71 22 70.
Web: http://www.gites-de-france.com/

LONGUEVAL: Full equipped house that sleeps six in three rooms. Longueval is only walking distance from Delville Wood and near all the main sites. Discount for WFA members. For further details contact: Mrs Jeannie Alexander, 27 Courtway Avenue, Birmingham, B14 4PP. TEL: (0121) 430 5348.
Email: Battletour@aol.com

CAMPING

ALBERT: On the outskirts of the town, this is a 2 star site and has 75 pitches. Contact: Camping Le Velodrome, allée charles queret, 80300 Albert, Somme. Tel: +33 3 22 75 22 53. The site has no web presence or email. No English spoken.

AUTHUILLE: Close to Thiepval, this site is very popular with English visitors. It has toilet and shower facilities, and a restaurant on site with a good reputation - The Cochon Salle - and another down in the village of Authuille. Contact: Camping Bellvue, 80300 Authuille, France. Tel: + 33 3 22 74 59 29. Fax: +33 3 22 74 05 14. The site has no web presence or email. It has 96 pitches. No English spoken. Open 1st March - 31st October.

MIRAUMONT: On the outskirts of the village, which has a post office, shop and bar that serves light food. The site has no web presence or email. It has 65 pitches. Contact: Camping La Herelle, Rue Poulain, 80360 Miraumont, France. Tel: +33 3 22 74 84 83. Fax: +33 3 22 74 84 83. No English spoken. Open 1st April - 15th October.


SOMEWHERE TO EAT

LA BOISSELLE: Run by English couple Jon and Alison Haslock, it is situated in the village close to road which leads to the Lochnagar Mine Crater. Parking for cars, good toilets and a range of food, plus a small bookshop selling books, postcards and relics. Contact details: 1 RUE GEORGES CUVILLIER - 80300 Ovillers-la-boisselle, France.
Tel : 0033 3 22 64 09 16
Email: old_blighty@hotmail.com 

POZIÈRES: The Tommy Café is run and owned by Dominique Zanardi and is located on the main Albert-Bapaume road in the middle of the village. It operates as a bar, lunches and evening meals are available, and there is a great deal of First World War material on display, including a life-size trench system! Groups are welcome, but must book in advance. For all enquiries contact: TEL/FAX: 0033 3 22 74 82 84.
Email: cafe@letommy.com
Web: http://www.letommy.com/

MUSEUM - MUSEE DES ABRIS, ALBERT

Situated in the heart of the Somme Battlefields, in the town of Albert, the Musee des Abris is a good starting place for any visit to this area. Located in a series of tunnels below the Basillica square (used as air-raid shelters in WW2), there are reconstructions of trench scenes, dugouts, trench mortar positions and tunneling. Thousands of items are on display, along with a good film and many photographs and maps. The shops sells some books, and numerous battlefield relics (safe ones!). Opening hours are from 1st March to 15th December, 9.30 - 12.00 and 14.00 - 18.00. In July and August the museum is open all day. Entry costs 4€ per adult and 2.5€ for children, with under 6 year olds going free. Group rate is 3€ per person Adults and Children aged 6-18 2€ per student. 

For details contact:

TEL: 0033 (0)3 22 75 16 17

FAX: 0033 (0)3 22 75 56 33

EMAIL: musee@somme-1916.org

Web: http://www.somme-1916.org/sitetrench/musee/index.htm

MUSEUM - HISTORIAL DE LA GRANDE GUERRE, PERONNE

A very modern museum of the First World War, it is located in some of the old ramparts and chateau at Peronne. An interesting contrast to the Musee des Abris, there is an excellent film and a good bookshop, which takes credit cards. It is open from 10.00-18.00 between 1st April and 30th September, including Sundays and Bank Holidays. Between 1st October and 30th March it is open 10.00-18.00, except Mondays and is closed from mid-December to mid-January. Entrance is 7€ for Adults and 3.5€ for Children, although in many sites on the Somme you can pick up a postcard which will let you in for the special price of 5.2€.

For further details see the Museums website:

http://www.historial.org/

DELVILLE WOOD VISITORS CENTRE, LONGUEVAL

This site has undergone a number of changes; it is now directly run by the South African Government, and there is no longer a shop or tea room. The toilets are currently closed (September 2006) but the Museum, which remains free, is ppen every day except MONDAY, 10.00 until 17.45 in the main season, and 10.00 to 15.45 otherwise. Closed late November to early February. 

ULSTER TOWER, THIEPVAL

The Ulster Tower commemorates the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division who fell on the Somme in 1916. It has a memorial room and visitors centre with displays and a film about the attack on Thiepval. Drinks, snacks and books are also on sale, and there are clean and modern toilet facilities. Teddy and Phoebe will ensure you have a warm Northern Ireland welcome! The site is owned by the Somme Association, and the Ulster Tower is open every day except Monday. Opening hours are: 10.30 - 17.30 (April to September) and 10.30 - 16.30 (October - November & February-March). It is closed in December and January. Entrance is free.

Tel: 0033 3 22 74 81 11. Fax: 0033 3 22 74 80 68.

See also this page on the main site: Ulster Tower.

THIEPVAL VISITORS CENTRE

This newly opened centre is located close to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing and tells the story of the Somme battle in 1916. It also has a database of men who are commemorated on the memorial, and a small shop. There are toilets and parking for cars and coaches. Open every day from 10.00 to 17.00.

See also this page on the main site: Thiepval Centre.

USEFUL BOOKS

Some useful books about the Somme  include:

Walking The Somme - Paul Reed (Pen & Sword 1997 - to be reprinted 2011)
The Somme Battlefields - Martin Middlebrook (Penguin)
First Day on the Somme - Martin Middlebrook (various editions)
The Somme Then & Now - John Giles (After The Battle)
Before Endeavours Fade - Rose Coombes (After The Battle)
Somme - Lyn MacDonald (Various editions)

See also the Somme Books page.

SOMME MAPS

The IGN Green Series 1/100,000 map No 4 'Arras-Laon' covers this area if you are only going to drive the Somme. More detailed maps can be found in the IGN Blue Series: four sheets cover the main 1916 Battlefield. They can be ordered from the IGN web site (see Links Page), or can be purchased in the MAISON DE LA PRESSE near the Musee des Abris in Albert.

Guy Smith and Jerry Whitehead have also produced a new Trench Map/GPS system which has revolutionised visiting the battlefields. See their website for more details: Great War Digitial.

©Paul Reed 2001-2013
Page Last Updated: 21/11/2014

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