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Places to visit with children

Essex, England
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Places to visit with children

Hi, We are off to stay next year near Saint Omer. I am keen to show my sons (who will then be 10 & 8) some of the battlefields/memorials of World War 1 & 2. Can anybody please let me know their top choices of where I should take them for maximum impact. Thanks!

Saint-Omer Cathedral
Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
La Coupole
Military Museums
Limerick, Ireland
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1. Re: Places to visit with children

A distance from St. Omer is the Newfoundland Memorial in Beaumont Hamel. It is an incredible place

www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm…

On the coast, beyond Boulogne, is Etaples. There was a field hospital here, and it is the largest WWI graveyard, as far as I know.

To visit the World War II sites, you are best heading down to Normandy.

If the trip is purely to visit WWI and WWII sites, then perhaps consider waiting until your sons are a bit older. I found it had more impact when my kids were able to understand fully and empathise emotionally with the situation.

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Essex
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2. Re: Places to visit with children

Take them to "La Cupole" the Nazi V2 rocket base, it's not far from St Omer:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Coupole

www.lacoupole-france.com/en/default.asp

Megaton impact!!

Essex
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3. Re: Places to visit with children

PS, here is the Saint Omer tourisim website, which should be of use for you:

http://www.tourisme-saintomer.com/gb/home.htm

Essex
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4. Re: Places to visit with children

PPS, there is also this place for WW2 History (but it's another V2 Rocket site, perhaps one is enough??)

leblockhaus.com/modulosite2/welcome-gb.htm

Ireland
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5. Re: Places to visit with children

Hi. We visited La Coupole with 3 kids (15, 12 and 8) last week. It is excellent, with two tours - one which focusses on the Nazi occupation of the area during WW2 and the second on the rocket project. It starts off going through cold tunnels, and then brings you into the warmer exhibition area.

A word of warning - there is a lot of material in every section about deportations and the concentration camps and the use of forced labour with lots of photos. It was a lot for kids to take in, and parents should perhaps prepare them a bit. On the other side, it has a huge impact, and it is important that the reality of how bad it was is not forgotten.

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La Coupole
La Coupole
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Saint-Omer, France
Essex, England
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6. Re: Places to visit with children

Thanks alot for giving me some food for thought! I shall be checking out some of those websites.

UK
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7. Re: Places to visit with children

HI Mrs B,

If they have not already done so, get the children to read the Horrible Histories on World War I and II.

For WWI, you must take them to Vimy, north of Arras, and not too far from St-Omer. There you will find the Canadian trenches reconstituted with "sandbags" (actually concrete-filled, but very evocative). There are Canadian student guides around who will take you on free tours of the tunnels beneath the trenches (sign up in the visitor centre on arrival), where the soldiers had to wait for days until mounting their surprise assault.

Arras itself has the newly-opened "Wellington Quarry", where again troops had to wait for days until mounting an assualt from a labyrinth of tunnels; entrance is in the town centre (on the outskirts, not far from Arras station).

The Eperlecques blockhouse and La Coupole are two WWII venues near St Omer that have been rightly recommended above, and are fascinating. La Coupole (a state of the art museum inside a hill) might almost be a bit too much for the children though; I spent more than 6 hours there, and I don't think any child would have that stamina. At their age, the more open-air Eperlecques might be more worthwhile. Plus, at Eperlecques you get to see a V1 missile on its launching ramp, which is amazing.

There are a couple of good WWII sites on the coast, between Calais and Boulogne:

At Audinghen there is a sinister German gun battery, full of bits of ordnance and surrounded by all sorts of field and train-mounted guns.

Near Ambleteuse there is a very good museum covering the whole of WWI, from Poland to Japan, with costumed dummies etc.

But get them to read up a bit on the subject before you go - they'll get that much more out of it.

I took my grandchildren to hear the Last Post at Ypres (aka Ieper) one evening. They were gobsmacked. Although it's in Belgium, it's really not that far from St Omer - probably less than an hour. The ceremony takes place at 8pm nightly. There are lots of restaurants on the main square (Grote Markt), where you could have something-and-chipe beforehand; time it so you walk to the Menin Gate (about 3 mins from square) in time to get a good place under the arch.

Angela

northernfrance-within90minutesofcalais.co.uk

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La Coupole
La Coupole
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Saint-Omer, France
Arras
Arras
Pas-de-Calais, France
Calais
Calais
Pas-de-Calais, France
Poland
Poland
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Ieper (Ypres)
Ieper (Ypres)
West Flanders Province, Belgium
Belgium
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Kamloops, BC...
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8. Re: Places to visit with children

First off, I'd let the boys watch Saving Private Ryan and the Band of Brothers series. While they're doing that, see what tours are offered by Overlord Tours and any other tour company in the area.

There is a sequel to the film Anne of Green Gables which stars Megan Follows. In it, Anne, goes to Europe as an ambulance driver so she can find her husband who has been wounded. It's one of the better films about WW1. Google it so you can rent it for your sons.

BTW, your lads may have seen TV programs that mention Ypres in its other personality - The Tommies called it Wipers and it is most notorious for the mustard gas attacks.

I'd be inclined to help the boys research the various battle sites, and then take a formal tour - there are some excellent ones - do a search here on the forum page - so they can discuss what they see with you but also with the tour guides.

It's been my experience that tour guides really enjoy dealing with young people who have done some research, and so do the other folks on a tour. It gets everyone talking.

BTW, try to fit in a stop at Dunkirk. I think that operation when so many average Brits hopped into their pleasure boats to rescue the trapped RA, is one of the UK's finest hours - and your sons deserve the opportunity to see what it must have been like.

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Dunkirk
Dunkirk
Nord, France
UK
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9. Re: Places to visit with children

Dunkirk (aka Dunkerque), near the Belgian border about an hour from St Omer, is an excellent idea if the children have grasped the story of the British Expeditionary Force having gone over to France in September 1939, and then being driven back by the rapid German advance of May 1940. There is a fascinating museum called "Le Memorial du Souvenir" just to the north of the town centre, which tells you all about the setting up of "Operation Dynamo" - as the evacuation was called. It's incredible how quickly the plan was put in place; the displays tell you day-by-day the numbers of soldiers plucked from the vast beaches by ships large and small; you can then take the children outside to see the same beaches full of happy holidaymakers.

I think some of the post above may refer to the area of the Normandy Landings of 1944 (Operation Overlord, "Saving Private Ryan"), which are equally fascinating but would make a long trip from St-Omer.

Maybe an area to tackle next year!

Angela

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Dynamo
Dynamo
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Paris, France
Dunkerque
Dunkerque
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Paris, France
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10. Re: Places to visit with children

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