Richard Jack The Taking Of Vimy Ridge (cwm 19710261 0160)Richard Jack The Taking Of Vimy Ridge (cwm 19710261 0160)
©Richard Jack The Taking Of Vimy Ridge (cwm 19710261 0160)
Battle of Arras

A fierce battle on the Western Front

At the height of the First World War, fighting raged on the Western Front in the region around Arras, less than 30 minutes from Douai. Discover this land of memory with ease from the Douai Region.

An Allied offensive

The Battle of Arras was an Allied (British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Newfoundland) offensive against the German army, from 9 April to 16 May 1917, that led to the recapture by the Allies of several important strategic points, notably Vimy Ridge.

It was a fierce battle, with much shelling, artillery fire and dogfights that cost the lives of some 158,660 Allied soldiers and an estimated 120,000 to 130,000 German soldiers.

Battle of Vimy Ridge, a symbol for Canada

It was in the freezing, early morning air of 9 April 1917 that between 15,000 and 20,000 Canadian soldiers emerged from the trenches and stormed Vimy Ridge. A strategic position seven kilometres long and overlooking the surrounding countryside, it had been a strong defensive position for the German army since the beginning of the First World War.

Although the Canadians took most of the ridge that day, it would take several days of fierce fighting before the ridge was completely in their hands on 12 April. And this victory came with a high price, with more than 10,600 Canadian soldiers killed and wounded.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge became an important symbol and a founding element for Canada. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first time since the beginning of the war, a whole country, and won.

As a sign of gratitude, France offered Canada a 107-hectare site between Arras and Lens, on which a memorial was unveiled on 26 July 1936. It commemorates the sacrifice of the 66,000 Canadians who died in the Great War. This imposing and poetic monument overlooks the Douai plain from its towering position atop the ridge.

In an effort to preserve the memory, the land scarred by shells and mines is still visible and can be visited.

The park surrounding the Canadian Vimy Memorial is teeming with many varieties of Canadian trees and shrubs, planted by the Canadians for each fallen soldier.

Discover Canadian National Vimy Memorial

Tours of the underground passages are also available (reservations at the visitor centre). Memorial accessible all year round.


Opening hours of the visitors’ centre:

– From 04/03 to 31/03:

Wednesday to Sunday: 9am to 5pm

– From 01/04 to 15/05:

Wednesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm

– From 16/05 to 30/10:

Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6pm

Monday: 11am to 6pm

– From 31/10 to 09/12:

Tuesday to Sunday: 9am to 5pm

Monday: 11am to 5pm

Outside these times: self-guided tour of the site


Visit Arras and its memorial sites, just 30 minutes from Douai by visiting the Arras Pays d’Artois Tourism website.