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Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

by TennGerry Online Now Feb 27, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Last item on husband's short 'bucket list" is to visit the graves of 2 young uncles, 15 and 17, who died while serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during WWI. Although the location of the graves is known, I don't believe any family has ever been there.

May 2010 will be our first trip ever to France and need some help with transport. From the UK four of us will travel to Calais by ferry unless taking Eurostar to Lille would be a better choice. Is there any way to arrange train and bus transport from Calais to rural Arras, Ficheux and Sains-en Gohelle over 3-4 days? If that isn't possible any suggestions on car rental, places to stay, eat and ideas on making our way to the gravesites. We will have a GPS with Europe maps with us. BUT what is the driving like in France?
Thank you, stalwart, knowledgeable souls of VT

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8 Answers
  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by Beausoleil Online Now Feb 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    Driving in France is fine. The roads in that particular area are excellent. Arras , Ficheux and Sains-en-Gohelle have excellent roads and the (British) cemeteries are near the towns. The only problem you might encounter is driving on the "wrong" side of the road. We face this in the UK and try to start our trips on dual carriageways so we have a bit of time on the road to get used to it.

    You can check trains at http://www.sncf.com/

    You might find it easier to rent a car since you will need some transportation to the cemeteries. A couple possibilities we have used are: http://www.autoeurope.com and http://www.autofrance.net/

    We have also used Kemwel in the distant past and they were fine. Here's their web site too. Best to check all and take the lowest rate. http://www.kemwel.com/

    Enjoy your trip.

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  • Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by cassiovieggore Online Now Feb 27, 2010 at 1:36 PM

    I wish the links I pasted on will be helpfull for you. As a brazilian I may say transportation issues will be hard to me to recommed you.

    http://www.webmatters.net/index.shtml

    webmatters.net/france/ww1_lo...

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre_...

    Accept our respectfull esteem. Cassiovieggore

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  • Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by TennGerry Online Now Mar 1, 2010 at 6:42 AM

    Wow, was I misinformed. I'd thought the French drove on the right. Husband has given up driving in the UK. We now take trains on our twice-annual trips because adjusting to left hand driving has become more difficult as UK traffic has become so heavy.

    Driving on the left might change our plans. One of the Arras websites states that rural travel by public transport is difficult or impossible to arrange.

    Thanks to the respondents. I will check all the websites suggested and make a decision whether to and/or how to make the trip.

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by Beausoleil Online Now Mar 1, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    The French do drive on the right side of the road. I thought you were British since you were interested in British cemeteries. Apologies. You will be driving on the same side of the road as you would in the USA.

    We're from the US and drive in France all the time. It's very easy and their roads are marvelous.

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  • Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by TennGerry Online Now Mar 2, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    Thank you to everyone for the info. Glad to know the wheel will be on the left, but the car will be on the right.

    I think for ease of car rental-no availability at Calais on Sunday if we take the passenger ferry to Calais-we will take Eurostar to Lille. With no French vocabulary among the four of us,the more we can handle on our own the better. So the plan now is to rent a car and have our base in Lille's centre, instead of Arras's. Then we will drive to the cemeteries from Lille. So far Sixt seems to have the best rental rates. I'm looking at a hotel/Eurostar package.

    Again, VT members, thank you for your time and info.

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  • Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by TennGerry Online Now Mar 2, 2010 at 8:32 AM

    Thank you to everyone for the info. Glad to know the wheel will be on the left, but the car will be on the right.

    I think for ease of car rental-no availability at Calais on Sunday if we take the passenger ferry to Calais-we will take Eurostar to Lille. With no French vocabulary among the four of us,the more we can handle on our own the better. So the plan now is to rent a car and have our base in Lille's centre, instead of Arras's. Then we will drive to the cemeteries from Lille. So far Sixt seems to have the best rental rates. I'm looking at a hotel/Eurostar package.

    Again, VT members, thank you for your time and info.

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  • International Driving Permit required?

    by TennGerry Online Now Apr 7, 2010 at 6:54 AM

    Plans changed as I checked fares, logistics....I am picking up a car at the Calais Ferry Port. If I have a valid USA driver's license, do I have to have and international driving permit or license to drive in France?

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  • Beausoleil's Profile Photo

    Re: Help with transport to and around Arras to see family WWI graves

    by Beausoleil Online Now Apr 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    You have to have a valid USA driver's license. You are also required to have a translation of that license.

    The easiest way to do this is to purchase an International Driver's License (IDL). It is good for a year so if you are returning within the year, hang on to it. You can buy an IDL at your Autoclub (AAA) office. They will take your photo and issue the license good for one year. If you are a member of AAA it is a bit cheaper but anyone can get an IDL at triple A.

    Keep in mind that if you are stopped or in an accident, the policeman will not necessarily speak English. It makes his life easier if you have the IDL and a happy policeman is a more pleasant policeman. ;^)

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