During heavy air and naval bombing, Allied boats approached Normandy on June 6, 1944. In the early light of dawn, soldiers struggled to reach the beaches. On Utah Beach, they quickly defeated German forces and joined up with their air support once inland. But, on Omaha Beach, they faced heavy enemy fire in terrain that left them vulnerable; vertical cliffs were another obstacle that led to loss of life. Nevertheless, at the day’s end, the Allies had control of Omaha Beach, and, within a week of D-Day, more soldiers were able to land on Normandy’s beaches and ensure an Allied victory.
Your tour begins in central Paris, where, together with your expert, English-speaking guide, you’ll board an air-conditioned bus. As you travel to Normandy, your guide will teach you about the region, pointing out sights along the way. Your guide will share stories about World War II, describing the meticulous planning that led up to D-Day and the largest amphibious attack in history. They will also explain how and why some of these carefully-crafted plans came undone. Whether you’re a history buff or not, we’re sure you’ll have questions for your guide, and they will be glad to answer them.
Your first stop is Utah Beach with its extraordinary museum, housed in an old German bunker directly on the landing beach. There are other D-Day museums, but this one has the best exhibition on Operation Overlord, including personal stories, as well as an original B-26 airplane, one of only six in the world and the only one in France. You’ll see actual soldiers’ letters and personal artifacts that reveal the personal, human side of war. You’ll want to spend time contemplating the beach, its natural beauty a sharp contrast to the dramatic events that occurred there.
You’ll then take some time out to relax and experience the culture and traditions of Normandy. You’ll tour a 17th century barn and sample regional apple cider and Calvados, a type of apple brandy. Allied soldiers found shelter in farms much like this one. Then, we’ll go to a quiet port for a two-course lunch in a local restaurant.
Ponte du Hoc offers incredible views over the English Channel. At the same time, you’ll still see trace bomb craters as well as seemingly insurmountable cliffs, which will give you a new appreciation for the obstacles the soldiers of D-Day had to overcome.
One of our most emotional stops, if not the most emotional, is the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer with 10,000 white crosses, the name of a fallen soldier on each. This huge cemetery makes clear the enormity of the losses of D-Day. You’ll have time to look for a familiar name or to enter the Visitor Center for an overview of the Omaha Beach Landings, probably the most challenging D-Day battle.
Our D-Day Normandy tours from Paris will re-create memories of tremendous courage and sacrifice. At the end of the day, you will have new memories of the history and beauty of Normandy – memories that you won’t forget.