If you are touring the battlefields around Ypres then stay in Ypres as it is the best place to stay. Stay in Ypes as it has many hotels in the town. There are plenty to choose from, to suit every budget.
If you are touring both the Somme and Ypres avoid the temptation to stay in one place and travel daily to the other location. We did this the first time, opting to stay in Arras and drive on some days to Ypres. It makes for a long day, and meant we couldn’t see the Last Post ceremony. So accept the need to change hotels, stay in Ypres and enjoy a more relaxed driving regime.
The town centre is also filled with many restaurants, bars and cafes – again to suit every taste and budget. On Saturday there is a very busy market right in the centre of town, on the square in front of the Cloth Hall.
Every evening at 8pm [2000 hours] a group of buglers from the local fire brigade blow Last Post. Apart from a short cessation during the Second World War this simple service has been performed every day since 1927. Over the past few years the numbers attending have steadily grown so, if you wish to attend, it’s best to find your place well before the traffic is halted just before 8pm.
Most nights there will be several hundreds of visitors – some formal groups from the armed forces and the British Legion, as well as family members wishing to lay wreaths. The ceremony is very moving and is a fitting tribute to the thousands of very ordinary boys who marched out from Ypres never to return.
Although there are plenty of restaurants in Ypres town centre, you will be well advised to book a table for 8.15 if you plan to attend the Last Post ceremony. You can well imagine the sudden flood of people at 8.15 can quickly fill the restaurants closest to the Menin Gate, and you can bet your favourite will be filled up! So don’t risk it … book it!
In 1927 the Australian artist Will Longstaff painted a very atmospheric image of the Menin Gate. It shows a ghostly army of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers marching out from the Menin Gate, with the moonlight catching the rims of their steel helmets and bayonets. The painting is known as Menin Gate at Midnight, or Ghosts of Menin Gate, and you can buy a copy of the print in several of the Ypres hotels. We have one at home and every glance reminds you of the very poignant experience of visiting Ypres.
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