Dominated by the statue of Mother Canada, the National Vimy Commemorative Park honours the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. The Battle of Vimy Ridge remains a key page in the history of the young Canadian nation. Every year, 200,000 visitors descend into the reconstructed trenches before rising up in the shadow of the vertiginous Memorial.

It was in here, in fact, that the famous Battle of Arras began at 05:30 hours exactly on 9 April 1917, with the conquest of Hill 145. Three days later, Vimy Ridge fell into the hands of the Allies, placed under the command of General Byng. From the beginning of the conflict up to the end of 1916, the Allies had been launching attacks against this impregnable plateau, at the cost of 150,000 lives. From the high ground of Vimy, the Germans dominated not only the foothills of the Artois to the south but also the mining basin to the north.

Transforming the flanks of this natural lookout position into a redoubtable stronghold with significant reinforcements, concrete shelters, strategic trenches and particularly deadly guns. The Canadians were aware of this and it was for this reason that they devoted particular attention to analysing the terrain, reproducing the enemy lines and showering down a rain of shells in the month leading up to the offensive. On D day, the Canadians pushed through the first two lines in one hour, gained control of most of the plateau in the course of the afternoon and definitively demolished the “Vimy barrier” two days later.

But that was not all. For the first time in its short history, all the infantry divisions of Canada fought side by side here. This is why many observers regard this glorious episode as one of the founding acts of the Canadian nation, even though it had been officially created fifty years earlier (1867).

Standing opposite the twin slagheaps of Loos-en-Gohelle, the memorial dominates. 27 metres tall, the two pylons represent Canada and France. They show a mother forever weeping for her soldiers fallen in battle, and two angels symbolising Justice and Peace. Today, the monument is printed on the Canadian 20-dollar note, surrounded by poppies. The very poppies that now grow in their thousands on the Artois plains in the springtime.

. All around them, the pitted landscape recalls the shower of shells that rained down on Vimy Ridge a hundred years ago. Every year, the Vimy site as a whole attracts 200,000 visitors. English, Germans, Australians and Canadians of course but also a large number of French who come to discover this site rich in history that offers so much to discover with the Memorial, the cimeteries of the Commonwealth, the entrenchments and the tunnels. The exact number of Canadian soldiers with no known grave.

The Vimy Memorial in practice :

  • Opening hours :
  • Vimy Memorial Visitor and Interpretation Centre. Tel: +33 (0)3 21 50 68 68 –
  • Open daily (except 25 December and 1st January), 1 May to 31 October from 10.00am to 6.00pm, 1 November to 30 April from 9.00am to 5.00pm. Open to all, free admission
  • How to go there :