By the spring of 1944, the Allied forces were pushing up the Italian peninsula and the Soviet Union's Red Army was closing in on occupied Poland. Adolph Hitler’s Wermacht, however, still held an iron grip on most of mainland Europe. The Allies knew that their best chance of defeating Germany was to open a second front in the West. The decision was made to launch a massive cross-Channel invasion on the European continent at Normandy. It was their best chance of crushing the Third Reich.
Join us on this memorable tour that focuses on those pivotal days of 1944 when the outcome of the war hung in the balance. Led by Historian Guide Ed Bearss & Normandy Battlefield Guide Sean Claxton we will follow the action, as the allies invade Fortress Europe.
Day 1: September 29 Individual departures from the U.S.
Note: American staff, Ed Bearss & Marty Gane, having just completed our Third Reich Germany tour, will fly from Berlin to Paris on September
Day 2: September 30 (L) Individual arrivals in Paris. Meet Battlefield Guide Ed Bearss and Tour Manager Marty Gane at Charles de Gaulle Airport by 9:00 am. We will transfer by coach from the airport to our hotel in Caen arriving in time for lunch. The balance of the afternoon is free to rest, explore town, see William the Conqueror's gravesite in the L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes, or tour the Museum of Normandy located within William the Conqueror's ducal castle. The museum's exhibits highlight the history of Normandy and the life of the Norman people from the Bronze Age to the Industrial Revolution. Both Norman sites are each within a 10-minute walk from our hotel. Overnight Hotel Ibis Caen Centre
Day 3: October 1 (B, D) Today we will take a full-day excursion to Mont Saint-Michel. A rocky island crowned with a medieval monastery, Mont Saint-Michel is one of France's most stunning sights. One of Europe's major pilgrimage destinations for centuries and depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Toast our journey at tonight's welcome dinner.Overnight Hotel Ibis Caen Centre
Day 4: October 2 (B, L, D) This morning, we will drive from Caen to Bayeux where we will meet Sean Claxton, our Normandy Battlefield Guide. We will begin at the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument where Col. James E. Rudder and his Rangers stormed a seemingly impregnable position. We will stop at La Fiere to see the "Iron Mike" statue at the 505th parachute infantry regiment monument and then continue to the village of Ste.-Mère-Eglise where American paratroopers, illuminated by the flames of a burning house, were easy targets for German snipers. We will tour the town’s outstanding Airborne Museum and then we will visit Brecourt Manor to learn about the famous attack on the German artillery guns which was immortalized in the "Band of Brothers." We end the day with visits to Utah Beach and the Utah Beach Museum. Overnight Hotel Novotel Bayeux
Day 5: October 3 (B, L)
Today we will travel to Vierville-sur-Mer to see the American landing site highlighted in the movie Saving Private Ryan. We will walk on Omaha beach and we will hear about how the men of the Big Red One’s 16th U.S. Infantry fought their way from the beach, up the draws, to the top of the bluffs, in the face of unrelenting enemy fire. We will see their monument and then pay our respects at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial situated on a cliff above the beach.
Overnight Hotel Novotel Bayeux
Day 6: October 4 (B) This morning, we will explore the British and Canadian landing areas—Gold, Juno, and Sword. We will see the massive German battery at Longues, the artificial Mulberry harbor at Arromanches, and the “Pegasus Bridge” captured by the British in the opening minutes of D-Day. Overnight Hotel Novotel Bayeux
Day 7: October 5 (B, D) Today we will visit the medieval town of St. Lo and its surrounding hedgerow country, the key to the breakout from the Normandy beaches. We will learn of Thomas Howie, the “Major of St. Lo,” Operation Cobra, and the Avranches Breakout. We will travel the “Corridor of Death;” stand with the 30th Old Hickory Division at Mortain; and we will see where Polish troops held the ridge of Mont Ormel, successfully blocking the German's only escape route out of the "Falaise Pocket." Celebrate our memorable journey at this evening's farewell dinner. Overnight Hotel Novotel Bayeux
Day 8: October 6 (B)
We will spend this morning in Bayeux to see the Bayeux Tapestry and the Bayeux Cathedral. We will then continue to Caen to tour the Memorial de Caen, a museum that discusses the battles of Normandy in context to World War II. We will proceed to Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Overnight at a Charles de Gaulle Airport hotel (TBD)
Day 9: October 7
Individual departures from Paris.
Note: American staff, Ed Bearss & Marty Gane, are flying from Paris to Washington on October 7. They are booked on United Airlines flight #914, scheduled to depart Paris Charlesde Gaulle at 12:25 pm on Sunday, October 7, arriving in Washington Dulles Airport at 2:50 pm on October 7.
GUEST HISTORIAN GUIDE: Edwin C. Bearss is a National Treasure. Author, lecturer and one of our nation's preeminent historians, Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy are legendary. A native of Sarpy, Montana, Ed is a decorated WWII Marine Corps veteran from the Pacific Theater. Ed has enjoyed a 41-year career as an historian for the National Park Service. In 1981, he was named Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, a position he held until 1994. Ed has led many WWII tours from Normandy to the Rhine River; the Battle of Crete, and the Italian Campaign. This will be Ed's 6th tour to Normandy.
NORMANDY BATTLEFIELD GUIDE: Growing up in the heart of Norfolk, England, Sean Claxton was surrounded by World War II history. His childhood home was a short bike ride from several abandoned WWII airfields. Two of his grandfathers “did their bit” on the Home Front, one in the Auxiliary Air Force, the other in the Home Guard. Sean worked at the Imperial War Museum in London, spending almost 11 years at the Cabinet War Rooms, the underground headquarters of Winston Churchill. In 2004, Sean became a Battlefield Guide in Normandy. After ten years of leading tours for two of the most highly-respected tour operators in Normandy, he decided to break out on his own and work as an independent guide to allow more time for research and writing. Sean was one of three co-editors of “Managing and Interpreting D-Day’s Sites of Memory: Guardians of Remembrance.” In addition to leading tours, he is currently working on two projects, one covering Sword Beach and another on the German attempt to recapture Carentan.
* Historian Guide: Edwin C. Bearss is scheduled to lead this tour
* Services of a Normandy guide: Sean Claxton is scheduled to lead this tour
* Services of a professional tour director: Marty Gane is scheduled for this tour
* 7 nights in hotel accommodations
* Private, air-conditioned, motor coach for all sightseeing
* 2 wine reception, 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 3 dinners.
* All admissions, tours and excursions as described in the itinerary
* All taxes, baggage handling (one bag per person), & gratuities
* Pre-trip notes, reading list and map book
What is Not Included:
Airfare; transfers between airport and hotel; trip insurance; personal items such as wines, liquors, a la carte orders, room service, laundry charges; and meals and other items not specifically mentioned as included.
COST: 9 DAYS/7 NIGHTS
Double Occupancy: $2,695 per person
Single Occupancy: $2,995
(NOTE: All costs are based on a minimum of 20 participants.)