Beaches & pastoral countryside with a powerful memory. A visit to the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy can be an emotional experience. As you look across the expanse of sand you envision the 24,000 Allied soldiers who invaded France on June 6, 1944 and started the beginning of the end of World War II.
2016 marks the 72 anniversary of the D-Day invasion and there are many events in Normandy to honour the Allied soldiers who lost their lives on the beaches. The D-Day Festival (May 28 to June 12) takes place at many locations throughout Normandy and includes historic parachute drops, a Liberation Ball, peace walks, picnics and plenty of fireworks.
What we like about this tour is that you are picked up at your Paris address and returned the same day.
In between, you walk the Normandy battlefields and landing beaches of World War II. You see famous wartime sites as well as the American and Canadian cemeteries. Hear the poignant stories of the Allied soldiers and the eventual liberation of France.
A drive through the rolling Normandy countryside brings you to the Caen Memorial. You also visit Pointe du Hoc, an important German defence position captured by American soldiers.
There is free time to walk along Omaha Beach and reflect on the site's history. Afterwards you stop at the Omaha Beach Visitor Center, and before returning to Paris, you visit the Canadian Memorial at Juno Beach.
This tour was enlightening and moving. I had no idea of the power and bravery our troops provided in this history-changing battle."
– 5-Star Review
Because it's a long-day trip, we also like the idea of travelling in a luxury coach, where you can move around a bit.
You head to the shores of northern France where you visit the Utah Beach D-Day Museum, housed in an original German bunker and built on the beach where the first US troops landed. You also get a chance to see the only six remaining B-26 fighter planes that were used during the invasion.
After that you drive to a nearby apple orchard for a tasting of cider and calvados, the two beverages Normandy is most famous for. After a traditional Normandy lunch, continue to Pointe du Hoc, a German defense on the cliffs seized by US troops. Travel to Colleville-sur-Mer where you pay your respects at the American Cemetery. Wednesday & Fridays.
…Well worth the effort and time investment. Our guides… provided interesting and detailed information regarding all of the stops on the tour… Near the end of the day, the American Flag was lowered and Taps played…quite a moving experience. I recommend this trip for anyone who is interested in the D-Day beaches and the history of the Allied landing."
– 5-Star Review
This 2-day tour takes you to the beaches of Normandy as well as into the heart of Brittany.
On the coast of of Normandy you visit the landing beach of Omaha and visit the American Cemetery of Saint-Laurent and Arromanches.
You then make your way to Saint Malo, the heart of Brittany, where you explore the town before continuing onto Mont Saint-Michel for a guided visit of this famous and fabulous abbey.
Highlights of the Normandy 2-day trip include —
• The D-Day landing beaches at Omaha.
• The American Cemetery of Saint-Laurent and Arromanches.
• Guided tour of St Malo.
• Guided tour of Mont St Michel.
• Transportation, accommodation and meals are included.
This tour was an amazing history lesson and very pleasurable experience. Our tour guide was so knowledgable it was crazy. When we booked this we didn't realise just how many extra little places we would stop into and visit. One of the best two day detours we have done!"
– 5-Star Review
For a more personalized experience, we like this private tour of the American landing beaches created by our Paris Concierge, allowing you to drill deep into the history of the battle.
Your driver meets you at your Paris address and whisks you to the English Channel at Arromanches to see the remains of the artificial harbour that the Allied army built in England and towed to France. You learn all about what happened on that fateful day in June.
Then you get a chance to visit the only German coastal batteries still in place at Longues sur Mer. It's eerie to stand where the Wehrmacht fired on the landing Allied forces.
After lunch at Port en Bessin there's still more to see — Colleville sur Mer at Omaha Beach, to visit the American Cemetery and, finally, the Pointe du Hoc, the 90-foot-high cliff where US Rangers landed to take on one of the strongest points of the German fortifications.
1. D-Day was originally set for June 5 but had to be postponed for 24 hours due to bad weather.
2. The naval part of the operation, codenamed Operation Neptune, involved 6,939 vessels and 4,126 landing craft — the largest single-day amphibious invasion ever. On June 5 they assembled off the Isle of Wight.
3. Allied troops faced formidable obstacles on Hitler's Atlantic Wall, built along the Normandy coast using 100,000 workers, many of them forced labourers.
5. German defences on the beaches included concrete gun emplacements, wooden stakes, mines, anti-tank obstacles, barbed wire, booby traps and 50,000 German troops.
4. A phantom army of dummy camps, planes and tanks was built in Kent and Essex to deceive Germans into thinking the invasion would be farther north at Calais.
5. On the eve of battle General Eisenhower told the troops: "You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you."
Bonus Fact. Adolf Hitler was sleeping when word of the invasion arrived. No one dared wake him and vital time was lost in sending German reinforcements.
6. US troops landed on the beaches at 6:31 AM. An hour later the British and Canadians landed. There were 61,715 British troops, 73,000 Americans and 21,400 Canadian soldiers.
7. On the morning of D-Day, J.D. Salinger landed on Omaha Beach with six chapters of his unfinished novel, Catcher in the Rye, in his backpack.
8. The heaviest losses were on Omaha beach where US forces suffered 2,000 casualties. In the first hour the chance of becoming a casualty was one in two.
9. Condoms were issued to soldiers — most were used for covering the end of their rifles to keep them dry.
10. Despite setbacks, the Allies establish a beachhead to continue the invasion into France. By the evening of June 6, more than 150,000 soldiers and 20,000 vehicles had landed in Normandy.
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