Guide at a Glance
Ploegsteert, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Belgium, France
Heritage-History Tour, Sightseeing
Dutch, English, French
Ploegsteert Messines tour
Claude has run a restaurant, with his wife Nelly, just opposite Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing since 1981. They had many clients from all over the world, some looking for information about the area, but many of them knew more about the are during WW1 than Claude himself – this frustrated him.
So, he started reading about it. He met historians and writers who were in the area, who helped him to choose books to read, and they had long chats about the war. Slowly, his knowledge built up over time and due to interest.
He began guiding in the early 2000′s for friends and some of the clients who were sent by other clients. He has had a professional license since 2007 and he bought a minibus two years ago.
“What I like is the contact with the people, I am meeting many clients at the restaurant but if you spend several days with people talking about their family history and their life on the other side of the world it is really different way to see things. I am also proud to bring some people to relatives for a 1st visit, these soldiers are waiting since 100 years for a visit. Sharing knowledge is also very gratifying and many times I am learning things from a diary or some documents that visitors have with them. And it is also different as staying in the bar or in the kitchen I am happy to be in the open.”
The unique characteristics about Claude’s tours is the contact he has with the people; they are not just clients, they are people trusting him, he drives them around tell them things and when they stop at the hotel for the night often they ask him to have a meal with them and a drink before going to sleep.
He is very flexible, and understands that some ladies who are doing battlefields for a week want to see other things, so sometimes plans are changing at the last minute. He helps people finding a hotel or a train schedule. Picks them up at the station and brings them to their hotel.
“For me guiding is a real pleasure and I will go ahead as long as it will be a pleasure.”