History School Trips to The Opal Coast, France

Despite being just a short hop, skip and a jump across the Channel, the Opal Coast, so-called because of its bright and beautiful coastline, feels a world away from Dover. Its close proximity to Calais means it’s perfect for shorter trips, allowing you to step into a different language and culture without having to travel too far. Offering an abundance of integral WWI and WWII sites and monuments, this is the perfect destination to uncover and engage your students in the history of this unique region, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Thiepval, Arras, Delville and even Ypres in Belgium are all easily accessible and are guaranteed to bring the curriculum to life.

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  • View from the Thiepval Memorial

  • Thiepval Memorial

  • Re-imagining life in the trenches

  • Group at Vimy Ridge

  • #950

Why to Choose Us For Your History School Trip

The proximity of our schools-only hotel Moulin aux Draps to the channel ports not only makes the journey from the UK so much more manageable, but it also indicates that it is ideally located to act as a base for a World War history tour. With many of the major battlefields, beaches and memorials all within easy reach by coach, it is possible to pack in a huge amount of educational visits over only a few days.

Why Moulin aux Draps?
  • Less than an hour from Calais
  • Exclusively for school groups 
  • Dedicated full-time, native speaking Animateurs
  • History, Language immersion or Interaction programmes
  • Easy access to many important war sites
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The Opal Coast not only offers a gateway to the past but an opportunity to be immersed in traditional French culture. Decorated with boulangeries, goats cheese farms and dotted with seaside towns including the beautiful fishing port of Boulogne, French markets and of course the endless beaches, it provides the perfect destination to study history, French language or both. The opportunity to visit the World War memorials, craters, tunnels and museums can be easily combined with a stop at the local sweet factory, creperie or the ever-popular chocolaterie to ensure sustenance and a real taste for the region, including escargots!

Sample excursions

History Excursions

Thiepval Memorial

WWI Somme Battlefields

After eighteen months of deadlock, the Battle of the Somme was supposed to be the decisive breakthrough for the British and French Allies on the Western Front. Instead, with 20,000 men killed on the first day and one million casualties in total on both sides, the Battle of the Somme became a by-word for indiscriminate slaughter. Due to their efforts on the first day of the Battle, George V gave the First Newfoundland regiment the new title of 'The Royal Newfoundland Regiment.' Owing to the massive slaughter that the regiment suffered, the Regiment and the British Legion are still remembered every year on the nearest Sunday to 1st July.

Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park

Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park

This park, located near Beaumont Hamel, is one of only a few sites on the Western Front where the ground remains largely untouched from when the First World War ended. The area has been maintained because of the significance to Newfoundland; the Newfoundland Regiment, which was part of the 88th Infantry Brigade within the 29th Division, attacked here on the 1st of July 1916, and suffered appalling losses.



Arras is famed for the secret tunnels beneath the town that were dug out and used by British troops during the Great War. Eventually, the Battle at Arras claimed 159,000 lives in only 39 days, which is more than the amount of people who died per day at the Somme (2,943).

Thiepval Memorial


The Thiepval 'Memorial to the Missing' remains the largest British war memorial in the world and is dedicated to the 73,357 British and South African men who have no known grave and who died at the Somme between July 1916 and March 1918. The memorial, which dominates the surrounding area, is 150ft high and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The cemetery behind the memorial is unusual because it contains the remains of both French and British soldiers to commemorate the Anglo-French alliance at the Somme.



The village of Pozières was completely destroyed in World War I during what became the Battle of Pozières (23 July–7 August 1916), which was part of the Battle of the Somme. The village was subsequently rebuilt, and is now the site of several war memorials. The Australian flag flies over Pozières in recognition of the sacrifice of the ANZACs in the Battle of Pozières. Amongst the British and other Commonwealth forces who fought at Pozières, the Australians suffered over 5,000 killed, wounded or taken prisoner.

Lochnagar Crater

Lochnagar Crater

As the largest crater on the Western Front, the Lochnagar Crater has a diameter of 300 ft. and a depth of 70ft., and when it exploded it created an explosion which could even be felt in London.

Delville Wood

Delville Wood

The memorial at Delville Wood serves as the national memorial to all those of the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force who died during World War I. A total of some 229,000 officers and men served in the forces of South Africa in the war. Of these, some 10,000 died in action or through injury and sickness, and their names are written in a memorial register that was kept at this memorial, and is now kept at the nearby museum. The location of the memorial marks the role played by South African forces in the Battle of Delville Wood.

Somme 1916 Museum

Somme 1916 Museum, Albert

The museum at Albert is located 10 metres underground and is 250 metres long. The museum will give you and your students the opportunity to experientially understand what everyday life was like in the trenches during the year 1916.

Historial de la Grande Guerre

Historial de la Grande Guerre, Peronne

The Historial de la Grande Guerre museum, aims to show its visitors what life was like for the major participants in World War I, and what the impact of the war was on the rest of the twentieth century. It also shows the effect that the war had on the civilian populations that were occupied by enemy forces, who were often forced to flee their homes. There is an extensive collection which includes many items that were used by the soldiers, which help to clearly depict life during the war. There are also some films and walk through exhibits, which add to the experience.

Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge

The horror of war and the sheer numbers of casualties are brought into focus with a visit to Vimy Ridge. A key strategic target throughout the war, assaults on the ridge cost in excess of 150,000 French lives alone. The re-constructed trenches offer a real sense of the what it must have been like.

La Coupole

La Coupole

La Coupole is a World War II remembrance museum that seeks to analyse the relationships between science and war, and war and the image. It is located where the secret launch site of Hitler's V1 and V2 rockets were planned to be. It is an impressive museum that uses multi-media interaction in order to bring the facts of World War II to life in a way that is accessible and informative.

Ypres Battlefields

World War I Ypres Battlefields

Throughout World War I, Ypres and the surrounding area were strategically important as the last defensible position between the German army and the Channel ports. Whilst the frontline was forever changing, at a terrible cost in terms of human life, it never moved more than a few miles during the whole campaign.

Cross-Curriculum Excursions


Nausicaa Sea Life Centre

The French National Sea Centre is a science centre entirely dedicated to the relationship between mankind and the sea. It houses Aquaria, exhibitions on the marine fauna, and the exploitation and management of marine resources.


Handmade Sweet Manufacturer

 A visit to this factory is another gastronomic delight where your students will learn how sweets are traditionally made. Bon Bon!



What could be more authentic than a visit to a Boulangerie where your students can sample the smells and tastes of freshly baked bread.



Boulogne is one of France's major fishing ports, which is not only within easy reach of the UK, but is complete with old town and cathedral. The Old Town is nestled between mighty ramparts, which were built at the beginning of the thirteenth century and can still be seen today. It sits in the shadows of the Cathedral Belfry and Tower, and remains the administrative and spiritual centre of Boulogne. If you and your group are interested in history then the Castle Museum is worth a visit. It was also built in the early thirteenth century and was the first castle to be built without a keep in the history of military architecture.

Bagatelle Theme Park

Bagatelle Theme Park

The Bagatelle Theme Park is a popular attraction situated on the D940 between Berck and Le Touquet-Paris Plage. The attractions include family favourites like log flumes and rafting, to rollercoasters. It also houses a small zoo and a 360 degree cinema. It opens from Easter to Sept.



If your trip is during the height of summer a trip to Aqualud waterpark could be a welcome way to cool down and wind down…but don’t forget the sun cream!

Sample tour

Sample 5 day History trip to Moulin aux Draps

Day 1

  • Depart School
  • Channel Crossing
  • La Coupole visit
  • Arrive Accommodation

Day 2

  • Lochnagar Crater
  • Thiepval Memorial
  • Beaumont-Hamel

Day 3

  • Ypres
  • Flanders Field Museum
  • Essex Farm
  • Tyne Cot Cemetery

Day 4

  • Nausicaa Sealife Centre
  • Les Chocolats de Beussent

Day 5

  • On Site Activities - Breadmaking, Orienteering etc
  • Channel Crossing
  • Arrive School

Teacher Resources

Find a selection of useful resources related to your trip.

Teacher Resources

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In short it was absolutely excellent. I don't think I can thank you enough Phil, for providing such a fantastic experience for the children. Your staff were top notch and were the icing on the cake. Their experience, knowledge, enjoyment and the way in which they related to the children was second to none. They are certainly a group of staff who you must feel very proud of. Thank you. Dick Wilde, Queen's College Junior School

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