Setting off from the UK in the morning, we will arrive at the battlefield of Waterloo at lunch time. You will enjoy Belgian specialties for lunch before heading to the conference room to listen to Dr. Bernard Wilkin, who will be talking about life in the French Army during the Napoleonic Wars. You will learn how miserable that life was and how the French perceived the British. Following the talk, we will head to the pub to sample Belgian beers and chat about history. In the evening, you will enjoy a gastronomical dinner with a selection of wines or beers.
On our second day we will investigate the time preceding the battle of Waterloo and the attack on Hougoumont. We will start in the morning at the Ferme du Caillou – Napoleon’s last HQ – where the French perspective and aims will be explained. You will discover period maps and understand why Napoleon and his staff made so many mistakes. Our coach will then take us to La Belle-Alliance, the heart of the French line, where we will walk 4 miles to discover the French left-wing and understand the approach to Hougoumont. After looking at the outskirts of the farm, we will visit the inside of the building to grasp the factors that led to the French defeat. A late lunch will be taken near the Lion before heading toward the newly built museum, where you will see original items and watch a 4D movie about the battle. You will be given the opportunity to climb the Lion and admire the view. In the evening, we will once again enjoy fine local food. The bravest will head to the pub with Bernard Wilkin for rounds of Belgian beers.
On the third day, our group will explore the attack on the centre of the Allied line and the arrival of the Prussians. We will walk 4 miles to see where the Corps D’Erlon moved forward, from where the cavalry charges were launched against British squares, explore the Haye-Sainte, various memorials and Prussian-related locations. After lunch, we will visit the unique Wellington museum before going to the church opposite, where several commemorative plaques still remind visitors of the huge human price paid that day. Eating in the area, we will afterwards listen to a talk by Bernard Wilkin on how the French depicted the battle after the defeat and how its distorted portrayal continues to influence French society today. You will have the opportunity to sample more Belgian beers with the speaker afterwards (if you dare).
On our final day, we will head towards the Military Museum of Brussels, where Dr. Wilkin will lead you into the Napoleonic galleries and the rest of the institution. You will learn about the legacy of Waterloo and explore 200 years of military history in one of the richest military museums of Europe. After lunch, our group will bid farewell to beautiful Belgium and travel back to the UK.
Dr Bernard Wilkin
Bernard is a Belgian historian who works at the National Archives of Belgium specialising in the history of the French army and the French people at war, from Napoleon to the end of the Third Republic.
He has completed a PhD at the University of Sheffield and has been a lecturer at the University of Exeter. He has published on various subjects such as the French army during the Napoleonic wars, propaganda in France during the two world wars and morale in the French army and on the home front during the Great War.
FREE COPY OF “FIGHTING FOR NAPOLEON”
Included in the tour price is a signed copy of Dr. Bernard Wilkin’s book “Fighting for Napoleon: French Soldiers’ Letters 1799-1815”. The French side of the Napoleonic Wars is often seen from a strategic point of view, or in terms of military organization and battlefield tactics, or through officers’ memoirs. It is rarely seen from the perspective of the lowest ranks of the army, and the experience of the ordinary soldiers is less well known and is often misunderstood. That is why this account, based on more than 1,600 letters written by French soldiers of the Napoleonic armies, is of such value. It adds to the existing literature by exploring every aspect of the life of a French soldier during the period 1799-1815. The book is fascinating and informative reading for military and cultural historians, but it will also appeal to anyone who is interested in the war experience of common soldiers. It offers the English-speaking audience a French view of a conflict which is too often limited to the traditional memoirs of Captain Coignet, Colonel Marbot or Sergeant Bourgogne.
’This work takes us into the daily life of the Grande Armee, with its suffering and the atrocities committed… Unlike diaries and memoirs written by officers, they captured the real experience of the common soldier…The authors have compiled a very valuable work.‘ – La Libre Belgique
What's Included and How to Book
Included in the Waterloo – Fighting for Napoleon tour package:
- Return Channel crossing.
- Four days touring the Waterloo battlefield via coach and on foot.
- Three nights full board accommodation in the Hotel Metropole, Brussels.
- The services of Waterloo expert, Dr Bernard Wilkin who will join the coach on arrival at Waterloo at lunchtime on Day One.
- A copy of Dr Wilkin’s book “Fighting for Napoleon: French Soldiers’ Letters 1799-1815”.
- All tips, taxes and admission charges.
- A detailed TourPal – an extensive booklet that will help you to better understand the battle, the events and men who fought in it.
- The services of a tour manager who will accompany the coach for the duration of the tour.
- The fully equipped executive coach features air conditioning, seat belts, ample leg room, WC, tea and coffee making facilities, over seat reading lights, a USB charging point for every seat, alternative entry via right hand side for safety when alighting on the continent, and the ability to lower the front of the coach to make access easier when boarding or exiting the coach.
- The coach departs from Bedford with a second pick up at Maidstone. Alternatively, passengers may choose to meet the coach at the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal.
For this tour we will be staying at the luxurious 5-star Hotel Metropole in Brussels.
Breakfast and dinner will be taken in the hotel, except for dinner on the third night which will be enjoyed at a local restaurant. Midday meals will consist of a quality packed lunch taken at a suitably chosen location along the day’s route.
Prices and Booking Procedure:
- Double/Twin Room, 2 people sharing – £699 per person (total price £1,398)
- Double/Twin Room, single occupancy – £799
When booking this tour select your room choice from the drop down “Room Type” menu at the top of the page, then click “Add to Basket”.
If booking a combination of shared and single occupancy rooms please add to basket separately. The “Continue Shopping” button in your basket will return you to this page.
A deposit of 30% of the total amount is required on booking, with the remainder due no later than 8 weeks prior to the departure date.
Please see the Terms & Conditions page for further details.
The number of people in your party is governed by rooms booked:
1 shared double/twin = 2 people
1 single occupancy = 1 person
Please have to hand the names and contact details of all members of your party when making your booking as these will need to be entered on the checkout page.