D-Day: A Journey from England to France

Trace the events of the pivotal Battle of Normandy as you travel from England to France and gain an in-depth understanding of this monumental military operation.

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 American tank in Arromanches  British cruiser HMS <i>Belfast</i> at London's Tower Bridge   Exhibit in the Churchill War Rooms in London. Credit: Alex Segre/Alamy  Exhibit in London's Imperial War Museum. Credit: Mark Phillips/Alamy  London's Tower Bridge  London's Trafalgar Square  Normandy's Pointe du Hoc. Credit: Hemis/Alamy  View of the Channel from the German gun emplacement at Pointe du Hoc  Sainte Mère Église  The Airborne Museum in Sainte Mère Église  Sherman tank on Utah Beach  German gun emplacement on Omaha Beach  Sculpture of <i>Les Braves</i> at Omaha Beach  Omaha Beach  The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach  The Mémorial de Caen with its fascinating D-Day and Battle of Normandy exhibitions  Remains of Mulberry Harbor at Arromanches  Beach at Arromanches  Flowers at a grave site, American Cemetery, Omaha Beach.  Credit: David Maher

Don't miss your chance to explore the sites of D-Day alongside a Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Book now! This tour will not be offered in 2016. 

Trace the events of those fateful months leading up to the famous World War II Battle of Normandy. Exclusive tours, poignant excursions, and insightful lectures will further your understanding and appreciation of this monumental military operation.

Begin in England to learn about the "behind-the-scenes" action necessary to stage the largest amphibian landing in history. In London, discover Winston Churchill's Cabinet War Rooms, where he directed the British War effort, and explore the newly renovated Imperial War Museum with its vast World War II exhibition. Learn about the Enigma code during a special tour of Bletchley Park, and visit the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force at Southwick House in Portsmouth. Cross the English Channel to France by ferry. Here, in Normandy, explore Sainte Mère Eglise, site of the dramatic landing of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division Paratroopers, as well as Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, and Arromanches. Visit museums that offer deeper understanding of the Battle for Normandy, and at the dramatic site of Pointe du Hoc, stand atop the bluffs that U.S. rangers reached by scaling the steep cliffs in order to destroy key German gun positions. You'll also meet with individuals and visit places of extraordinary heroism that still bear testimony to the sacrifice and courage of Allied troops.

Day 1 — Depart the U.S for London

Day 2 — London
Arrive in London and transfer to your hotel. After check in, enjoy time at leisure before an afternoon visit to Winston Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms and adjoining Museum. It is from this underground “safe place” that Churchill directed the British war effort and where today one can still see maps, telephones and bunks preserved since 1945. This evening, enjoy a private reception and welcome dinner. Kenilworth Hotel (R,D)

Day 3 — London, Bletchley Park, Imperial War Museum
Travel to Bletchley Park and discover the real story behind the Enigma code breakers, credited with shortening the war by successfully deciphering the encryption used by the Wehrmacht to safeguard its messages. Light lunch in Bletchley Park’s Café, located in the code-breaking hut that housed the wartime Naval Intelligence Section. This afternoon visit the newly renovated Imperial War Museum where you can explore its vast WWII collection. Kenilworth Hotel  (B,L)

Day 4 — London, Portsmouth, Normandy
Travel by coach to Portsmouth where we begin with a stop at Southwick House, Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and the location from which Eisenhower made the “let’s go” decision on the eve of June 6th. Explore the D-Day Museum featuring the Overlord Embroidery which depicts the events of D-Day in dramatic and colorful artistic fashion. Take the cross-channel ferry this afternoon, arriving in Caen around 9:30 pm. There are several dining options on board. Continue to the delightful Ferme de la Rançonnière for the first of three nights. Ferme de la Rançonnière (B, L)

Day 5 — Sainte-Mère-Église, Utah Beach, La Cambe, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach
Begin your journey in Normandy by exploring Sainte-Mère-Église, site of the dramatic 82nd and 101st Airborne Division Paratrooper landing on the night of June 5th and early hours of June 6th. It’s on the small church steeple in Sainte-Mère-Église that John Steele’s parachute became ensnarled. He survived, suspended throughout the night with church bells ringing in his ears. After viewing the church, cross the town square for a tour of the Airborne Museum, replete with airplanes and other D-Day artifacts. Later visit Utah Beach, site of one of the two American amphibian landings in the early hours of June 6th, 1944. Pause at La Cambe, a large WWII German Cemetery before continuing to one of the most dramatic sites along the Normandy coastline - Pointe du Hoc through cratered pathways and imagine the bravery of those rangers as they faced a barrage of German artillery fire and a fierce storm. Continue to Omaha Beach, site of the bloodiest fighting of invasion day. Lay a wreath at the memorial which rises from the sand and visit the Overlord Museum. Ferme de la Rançonnière (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Caen, Arromanches, Colleville-sur-Mer
Visit the Musee Memorial du Caen with its fascinating D-Day and Battle of Normandy exhibitions. At Arromanches take a seat in their 360 circular movie theater and experience a spectacular film about the D-day landings entitled “The Price of Freedom”. See the Mulberry harbor in Arromanches – known as Port Winston – a remaining prefabricated concrete platform designed to assist in landing Allied supplies. Before returning to the hotel visit the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. Pay your respects at the monument dedicated to “the Big Red One,” then reflect as you walk the grounds where heroes have been laid to rest. Enjoy an evening reception at the Chateau de Creully, used by the BBC to broadcast following the invasion. Ferme de la Rançonnière (B,D)

Day 7 — Normandy, Paris
Depart Normandy for Paris today. Join your fellow travelers for this evening’s farewell reception and dinner. Millennium Opera, Paris (B,D)

Day 8 — Paris, U.S.
Depart Paris for the USA aboard regularly scheduled flights