Explore Normandy & Paris
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day
Step back in time to the year 1944 and explore the Normandy beaches, memorials, and landmarks of historic D-Day; then discover the treasures of Mont-Saint-Michel, Giverny, and Paris.
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Discover Normandy, one of the most beautiful regions in France, as you have never seen it before. Year 2014 marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied troops invaded Normandy and triggered the beginning of the end of WWII. Mark this occasion with two full days spent visiting the beaches, memorials and landmarks of this historic day. This skillfully tailored program features other highlights of the region, including the historic port town of Honfleur, the World Heritage site of Mont-Saint-Michel and Claude Monet's beautiful home at Giverny. Informative educational programs presented by local experts enhance your insight into the region and special events such as a wine tasting and exploring a local market allow you to experience the French joie de vivre. This program includes all excursions and lectures, deluxe accommodations and an extensive meal plan.
September 10-11 — U.S., Cabourg, France
Depart via overnight air service for Paris, France.
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. After clearing brief arrival formalities, transfer to Cabourg and check in to the Hotel les bains de Cabourg. This evening, join fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception at the hotel followed by a Welcome Dinner at a restaurant in Cabourg. (D)
September 12 — Honfleur
Depart for Honfleur and explore the narrow streets in its classic French town center, nestled against a striking 17th-century harbor. Soak in the scene that has inspired artists, writers, and musicians for centuries as you visit the Old Port, the wooden Church of Sainte-Cathérine, and other historic landmarks. A lunch of local specialties is served at an Honfleur restaurant. This afternoon, learn more about D-Day and the Battle of Normandy and how they profoundly influenced the development of France, Great Britain, and the other Western civilizations. Discuss the fascinating expedition that became so pivotal in the Allied war effort. (B,L,D)
September 13 — Normandy Beaches
Take an emotional journey to Arromanches and Omaha Beach with its poignant memorial, where the largest concentration of U.S. troops landed on June 6, 1944 in the face of heavy German resistance. Continue along the Calvados coastline, which provided the theater for Operation Overlord, history's most complex and important military invasion. See the U.S. Military Cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer and the German gun emplacements at Pointe du Hoc. Lunch will be served in a local restaurant. On the return to Cabourg, a stop is made at Les Vergers du Ducy to sample the cider brandy, Calvados, for which the region is so famous. Dinner is served at a restaurant in Cabourg. (B,L,D)
September 14 — Cabourg
During this leisure day, explore the colorful markets of Cabourg and shop for regional specialties such as its renowned Camembert, Livarot, and Pont-l'Évêque cheeses. Afterward, enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. In late afternoon, join a discussion of the origins and leaders of the French Resistance, the role of the French in the lead up to D-Day, and the heroic efforts of the men and women who fought to liberate the country. (B,L)
September 15 — Normandy Beaches
Today, journey to the Peace Memorial that honors the heroes of the Battle for Caen. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this important museum. Enjoy lunch at the Caen Peace Memorial. Continue to the important D-Day sites of Utah Beach and town of Sainte-Mère-Église. Stop at the German cemetery at La Cambe, which provides a stark contrast to the American cemetery. Travel back to Cabourg where dinner is at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
September 16 — Mont-St-Michel
The sight of Mont-Saint-Michel's dramatic, sky-scraping turrets towering over the flat white sands that surround the granite island leaves little wonder why this UNESCO World Heritage site is considered a wonder of the Western world. An expert, local guide will provide fascinating commentary on this island that has served as fortress, monastery, and prison through the centuries. Visit its beautiful Abbey Church, founded in the 8th century by the Benedictine order. Lunch is served at a local restaurant. (B,L)
September 17 — Giverny
Today’s highlight is a visit to Monet's home at Giverny, located at the top of the stunning gardens featured so prominently in his paintings. Admire their tranquil beauty, then visit the studio where he painted his famous "Water Lily" series. Explore the Terra Museum of American Art, dedicated to the history of how the Impressionist movement influenced a "colony" of American artists. Lunch is served at La Terra Café, set among the gardens of the museum. In the evening, bid farewell to Normandy as you enjoy a Farewell Reception and Dinner at the hotel. (B,L,D)
September 18 — Paris
Depart Cabourg after breakfast this morning and travel by motor coach to Paris where accommodations are reserved at the Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel. Upon arrival in Paris, there is an escorted tour detailing the lives of Parisians under German occupation. Learn how the Parisians survived the dark years of the Occupation from 1940 to 1944 on this walk in the area of the Champs Elysées. Learn the stories of daily life, the Gestapo, the Resistance, and the Liberation. We will see the traces of the last street battle on Rue de Rivoli and the Hotel Meurice where General Von Choltitz surrendered the German forces. Afterwards, lunch will be served in a local restaurant. The balance of the afternoon will be free to enjoy at your leisure. (B,L)
September 19 — Paris
The day is free to explore Paris on your own. You might want to visit the Louvre, home to arguably the world's greatest art collection, or marvel at the impressionist masterpieces housed in the famous Musee d’Orsay. See the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or take a leisurely cruise on the River Seine. Try a visit the French Army Museum with its extensive WWII exhibit. Paris has been called A Moveable Feast and it is all there for travelers to explore and enjoy. (B)
September 20 — Paris
Continue your independent exploration of the sights of this magnificent city. Perhaps spend the morning exploring Montmartre, the highest spot in the city. Climb the stairs or take the funicular to the iconic Basilique du Sacré-Coeur for stunning views of the Paris skyline. This evening, gather with other Smithsonian travelers for a Farewell Dinner at a restaurant in the City of Light. (B,D)
September 21 — Return to the U.S.
Homeward bound today. Depart the hotel for Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport. (B)
Meals appropriate to the time of day will be served during the trans-Atlantic flight.