Normandy is renowned for its major military efforts, from the Norman Conquest to the D-Day invasion of World War II, as well as for its charming towns, historic sites, and fine cuisine. Join us for this one-week Cultural Stay, which features time at famous D-Day sites, Honfleur and other places known for the Impressionists, and the stunning island of Mont St. Michel with its Gothic cathedral.

Starting at: $4,240 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The charming old port of Normandy's Honfleur  The historic Mont St. Michel off the coast of Normandy  Arromanches  Mulberries at Arromanches
  Memorial sculpture, Omaha Beach  Sherman tank along the Normandy coastline  German gun emplacements at Pointe du Hoc. Credit: Atout France/R-Cast  Monet's gardens at Giverny  The cathedral in Rouen  Cabourg, France

Normandy

A One-Week Stay in France

9 days from $4,240

Normandy is renowned for its major military efforts, from the Norman Conquest to the D-Day invasion of World War II, as well as for its charming towns, historic sites, and fine cuisine. Join us for this one-week Cultural Stay, which features time at famous D-Day sites, Honfleur and other places known for the Impressionists, and the stunning island of Mont St. Michel with its Gothic cathedral.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The unique itinerary of the Normandy trip allowed us to stay in one place while taking day excursions to sites we would never have ventured to on our own. Our Smithsonian Journeys Expert was able to answer every question about the history of each small village we drove through on our way to a destination, including its role in WWII. He truly brought history to life for us. What a pleasure!

- Barbara G.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

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SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person on 2020 departures when you book by September 27, 2019!

No single supplement for solo travelers on our 2019 departures! (Limited availability. Book early to ensure your place.)

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

Normandy is renowned as a center of Impressionism and for its charming towns and fine cuisine. It's also remembered for major military efforts, from the Norman Conquest to the D-Day invasion of World War II. Join us for a one-week stay in the chic seaside resort of Cabourg, the ideal base to explore the many themes of this fascinating region. You'll stay at Le Grand Hotel Cabourg, which overlooks the beach and the English Channel. 

Highlights Include

  • Cradle of Impressionism: During a walking tour of Honfleur, see why artists flocked to this charming seaside town. In Giverny, explore the beloved home, studio, and gardens of Claude Monet, and visit the Musée des Impressionnismes. And in Rouen, see the cathedral often painted by Monet, plus other important sites. 
  • Battle of Normandy: Spend a solemn day along the beaches where World War II’s Operation Overlord took place. Stirring sites include Omaha Beach, the museum at Arromanches, Pointe du Hoc, the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, and the Caen Memorial Museum. You’ll also stop in Bayeux to view the historic tapestry depicting the Norman conquest of 1066. 
  • Mont St. Michel: Discover this breathtaking tidal island with its iconic abbey and historic church (founded in 709), which is one of the most remarkable sites in France and a World Heritage site.
  • Cultural Traditions: Savor traditional culinary products such as Calvados (a fortified apple brandy), and visit a nearby estate farm to sample Norman cheeses.

The unique itinerary of the Normandy trip allowed us to stay in one place while taking day excursions to sites we would never have ventured to on our own. Our Smithsonian Journeys Expert was able to answer every question about the history of each small village we drove through on our way to a destination, including its role in WWII. He truly brought history to life for us. What a pleasure!

- Barbara G.

2019 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Depart the U.S. on the overnight trans-Atlantic flight to Paris, France.

Day 2 — Paris / Honfleur

After arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, drive through the French countryside to the Mercure Honfleur Hotel. A rest stop will be made en route. Upon arrival at the hotel, you’ll receive a Welcome Kit with maps and general information about Honfleur and the province of Normandy. The Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding tours, restaurants and independent activities.

There’s time to unpack and relax before joining fellow travelers for an orientation walk of the neighborhood surrounding the hotel. Meet new friends this evening at a Smithsonian Journeys welcome reception. The Smithsonian Journeys Expert will offer a short talk and afterward, enjoy a welcome dinner at a popular bistro or brasserie. Bienvenue and Bon Appetite! (R,D)

Day 3 — Norman Countryside / Honfleur

A full buffet breakfast is included each morning at the hotel.

Excursion: Start discovering Normandy with a drive into the countryside and a local estate farm where you’ll sample Norman cheeses and renowned locally produced cider.

Excursion: After lunch, get to know historic Honfleur, a quintessential French port town that has captivated artists for centuries. Soak up the maritime ambiance of it's picture-perfect, 17thcentury Vieux Bassin, or old harbor. Stroll along narrow side streets to see landmarks like the wooden Church of Sainte-Cathérine, crafted by 15th-century shipbuilders.

Later in the afternoon, meet your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an introductory presentation then get together with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L)

Day 4 — Mont St. Michel

Excursion: One of the most iconic sights on the Atlantic coast of France is the tidal island of Mont St. Michel. Well known, the world over, the abbey’s spire can be seen for miles around. In the 1300’s, the island was fortified to protect it from opposing armies, and at one point in history, the island was a local prison. Lunch featuring local specialties will be at leisure.

Independent Exploration: Return to Honfleur where the balance of the day is free of planned activities. (B)

Day 5 – Caen Memorial / Utah Beach / Ste. Mere Eglise

Excursion: Travel to visit the Peace Memorial at Caen that showcases 20th-century history including World War II, the D-Day Landings, and the Cold War through a collection of exhibits, photos, and video.

Local Flavor: Normandy’s famous apple cider brandy is among the world’s finest brandies. Visit a farm that distills Calvados from the apples grown on its 42 acres of orchards, and learn about the process. Relax over lunch on the farm, and then sip a glass of smooth Calvados.

Excursion: In the early hours of D-Day, paratroopers and glider units arrived inland, tasked with sealing off German access to the amphibious assault sites. By daybreak, the second phase began, as infantry and tanks came ashore on five beaches, codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. As you visit the Musée du Débarquement at Utah Beach, hear gripping details from your guide about how the invasion unfolded. Then travel to Sainte-MèreÉglise, where U.S. paratroopers landed and later captured the town, securing its key crossroads. Then return to Honfleur. (B,L)

Day 6 — Honfleur

Independent Exploration: Enjoy a day that is free of planned activities. Make your own plans around the area.

Educational Focus: This evening a local speaker will talk about the role of the French Resistance its origins, its leaders, and the heroic efforts of the French patriots who fought to liberate their country and the lead-up to the D-Day landings.

Gather with fellow travelers this evening for dinner at a popular Honfleur restaurant. (B,D)

Day 7 — The Normandy Coast

Educational Focus: Begin the day with a talk by a local expert on the fascinating history of Normandy and how it's citizens played a role during this crucial period of the Allied war effort.

Excursion: Afterward, embark on an emotional and fascinating journey to the sites that were so pivotal to the success of the Allied armies on D-Day. In Arromanches, see the site of one of the offshore mulberry harbors, and visit the museum. These floating harbors were an engineering triumph and a clever solution that enabled the Allies to funnel enormous resources into France to wage war against Hitler. Break for lunch in Arromanches.

As you walk along Omaha Beach Memorial, contemplate the extraordinary bravery of the Allied landing forces, who valiantly advanced under devastating fire across the heavily fortified shoreline to overcome German troops. Motor along to the Calvados coastline, which provided the theater for Operation Overlord, history’s most complex and most important military initiative.

The day includes a visit to the U.S. Military Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer pay a poignant visit to the Normandy American Cemetery, which contains 9,385 graves of Americans who died in the invasion and subsequent battles, as well as a serene memorial garden honoring those missing in action. Next, visit Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Rangers courageously scaled 100-foot cliffs, and go inside a German defensive emplacement.​ (B,L)

Day 8 — Bayeux

Excursion: Travel to Bayeux to see the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Norman Gothic architecture in the world. Continue to see the 200-foot long Bayeux Tapestry, a masterpiece that depicts the glory of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings fought in 1066.

This evening, gather with friends for a special farewell reception and dinner at a select popular restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 9 — Depart for the U.S.

Get an early start and transfer to Paris and Charles de Gaulle Airport for return flights to your gateway city. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2020 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. for Paris / Cabourg

Depart the U.S. on your transatlantic flight to Paris, France.

Arrive at Charles de Gaulle International Airport then transfer to the Grand Hotel Cabourg. The approximate transfer time is three hours. Upon arrival at the hotel, you’ll receive a welcome package with information about Cabourg and the province of Normandy. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding restaurants and independent activities.

Gather for an orientation walk of the lovely beach promenade and gardens surrounding the hotel. This evening gather in the hotel lobby and depart for a welcome dinner at a popular bistro close by the hotel. (R, D)

Day 3 — Honfleur / Norman Countryside

A full buffet breakfast will be served each morning at the hotel. This morning depart by motor coach for the lovely port town of Honfleur. Visit the famous wooden church of St. Catherine and other town highlights.

After lunch at a local restaurant visit a local estate farm where you’ll sample delicious Norman cheeses and the renowned locally produced apple cider.

Return to the hotel late in the day then gather with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for camaraderie and conversation. (B, L)

Day 4 — The Normandy Beaches

Depart Cabourg for the famed beaches of Normandy. During the drive, a local expert will offer fascinating history of Normandy and the sites pivotal to the success of Allied armies on D-Day. Visit Arromanches and the Omaha Beach Memorial. Motor along the Calvados coastline, which provided the theater for Operation Overlord, history’s most complex and most important military initiative.

The day includes a visit to the U.S. Military Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer as well as the German defensive emplacements at Pointe du Hoc. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant.

Return to the hotel late in the day and enjoy dinner and the evening independently. (B, L)

Day 5 – Giverny / Rouen

Today visit Giverny and Monet’s pink and green home, which stands near the stunningly restored gardens that inspired him. The studio where he created his Water Lily series is now a museum devoted to the master impressionist. Continue on to the Musée des Impressionnismes, dedicated to the history of this movement that influenced a colony of American artists. Continue on to the historic city of Rouen, capital of Normandy.

Enjoy a guided tour of the landmarks including Gros Horloge, the 14th-century astronomical clock and see the cathedral made famous in paintings by Monet and hear the haunting tales of Joan of Arc. (B, D)

Day 6 — Mont Saint Michel

This morning depart for a visit to the tidal island of Mont Saint Michel. Well known, the world over, the Abbey’s spire can be seen for many miles around. The island’s buildings have been rebuilt and re-purposed over the centuries serving as fortress, monastery and a prison.

Explore on your own and enjoy lunch at your leisure. Return to Cabourg late in the day where the balance of the day is free of planned activities. Later, get together with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner to discuss the day’s discoveries. (B)

Day 7 — Cabourg

This morning a local expert joins the group for a presentation on the French Resistance during the lead-up to the D-Day invasion. Learn about the heroic men and women who risked their lives to liberate France from German occupation.

The remainder of the day is free of planned activities with lunch and dinner independently. (B)

Day 8 — Caen / Bayeux

After breakfast depart for the Peace Memorial at Caen that showcases 20th-century history including World War II, the D-Day landings and the Cold War through a collection of exhibits, photos, and a video presentation. After lunch featuring Norman specialties and a sampling of calvados, continue to see the 200-foot long Bayeux Tapestry, a hand-embroidered masterpiece that depicts the glory of William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings fought in 1066.

Return to Cabourg late in the day. Gather in the hotel lobby in the early evening and depart for your festive farewell reception and dinner at a popular local restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 9 — Depart for the U.S.

After an early breakfast transfer to Paris and Charles de Gaulle International Airport for return flights to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)