In the early morning of June 6th, 1944, almost 160,000 Allied troops descended on the well-fortified Normandy beaches
, setting Operation Overlord in motion. Today, the various commemorative sites along this now peaceful stretch of French coastline are a powerful reminder of the courage and sacrifice that was needed to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation. On this full day D-Day tour in the company of a WWII historian we will travel along the D-Day beaches, stopping at the main sites and providing a powerful visual backdrop to understand this complex, key turning point in World War II.
After taking the train from Paris to Caen, the capital of Lower Normandy and target for heavy bombings during the war, we will meet our docent and driver at the Caen train station. Our route may change to accommodate any special interests, but we usually begin with the far end of the American sector: the Pointe du Hoc. En route, our docent will lay out the background for the invasion. This steep cliff, sitting 30 meters (100 feet) above the sea, was a strategic location on the German defensive Atlantic wall. It was a point of attack for the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the site of an intense two-day battle. The rough terrain, marked with shell holes and the remains of the machine gun battery, takes us back to the day of the battle and sets the tone for our excursion.
"Our docent’s expert knowledge combined with the sites to give us what we felt was a deep, balanced picture of the events and the issues, and their impact on the war."
After a break for lunch, we will proceed to Omaha Beach. Situated at Colleville-sur-Mer, Omaha Beach serves as the location of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. At this moving site, we will learn about the important involvement of the American contingency in the invasion. You will also have time to independently visit the cemetery and pay homage to any particular graves or walk to the expansive beach down below.
Driving eastward, we will reach Arromanches, the location of the invaluable artificial port. At this site, we will learn about the careful preparations for Operation Overload and how this artificial port was installed and used to offload vehicles and supplies in the days following the invasion. Time permitting, we may also visit a German cemetery. A sombre resting place, it provides a unique context for seeing the perspective of the individual German soldier.
Please Note: This is a full-day, 12 hour excursion. Clients depart by themselves from the Paris St-Lazare station at 8:45 am and arrive in Caen around 11:00 am, where the docent and driver will be waiting. Clients will return to the station around 7:00 pm, arriving in Paris around 9:00 pm. We can also arrange car transportation from Paris or for visitors staying in Normandy.
What is a private tour?
Our private tours are limited exclusively to travelers in your party. They are designed to provide a learning experience that is completely tailored to you and your traveling companions. Private tours give you more flexibility with scheduling (you decide when the walk best fits in your trip), the ability to tailor your itinerary (we'll work to match the itinerary to the interests and dynamics of your group), and more personalized time with your guide.
What is a semi-private tour?
Our semi-private tours cover many of the same itineraries as our private tours, but they place you with other travelers in groups of 6 or less. They operate on a pre-scheduled calendar, and are designed to provide an opportunity to engage with and learn from other travelers. Most of our semi-private tours require at least three (3) participants to run, although there is some variation from walk to walk. However, there is some variation from walk to walk. As you sign up for a tentative walk we display the minimum number required in order to confirm.
Where do we meet? Where does it end? Your docent and driver will meet you in the city of Caen, in Normandy. You will take the train independently from Paris to Caen. At the end of the tour, you will be dropped off at Bayeux Train Station, where you will take the train back to Paris. We can pre-purchase train tickets for you; simply leave them in your shopping cart during check out. We'll then email you the tickets before your trip.
How long is the train ride? About 2 hours each way.
Can I upgrade to first class train tickets? Yes. Please let us know and we will contact you to discuss pricing options.
Can we arrange a car from Paris instead of taking the train? Yes. Please contact us about pricing options. The drive is about 2.5-3 hours each way.
I'm not staying in Paris! What should I do? If you're staying in Normandy, we can have the car pick you up. There might be a slight additional fee depending on where you're staying in Normandy; contact us to discuss. If you're staying outside of Normandy, we can advise where to meet your docent in Normandy.