Featuring an exclusive lecture series by internationally recognized historians James Holland and John McManus, PhD, this land tour and river cruise brings together the very best of The National WWII Museum’s flagship Normandy program with a whole new level of luxury—including world-class château accommodations and a five-star river cruise aboard the exclusively chartered Uniworld S.S. Joie de Vivre. Your journey in Normandy and on the Seine River features expert local guides with unparalleled knowledge of WWII locations—from lesser-known sites available exclusively to The National WWII Museum’s travel programs to iconic landmarks steeped in heroism and history. Visit the famous church in Sainte-Mère-Église, stand on Omaha Beach to view the intricate German defense system, and ponder the overwhelming odds the American soldiers faced on June 6, 1944. Cross Pegasus Bridge where the men of the British 6th Airborne Division won the first battle of D-Day just minutes after midnight. Along the way, hear from top-rated battlefield guides, and appreciate the beauty, culture, and history of a region that has played a critical role throughout world history.
- Full-time Featured Historians James Holland and John McManus, PhD
- Full-time expert local guides
- Full-time Museum logistical tour managers
- Four nights’ accommodation in Normandy at a hand-selected 5-star château
- Four nights’ accommodation aboard the 5-star S.S. Joie de Vivre
- Most meals, including: (8) breakfasts, (3) lunches, (8) dinners, (8) receptions
- Free-flow nonalcoholic beverages throughout the itinerary (including coffee, water, teas, and soft drinks)
- House wines, beer, and spirits with included lunches and dinners during land program
- House wines, beer, and spirits throughout the cruise while aboard the S.S. Joie de Vivre
- All gratuities to drivers, guides, and shipboard staff
- Entrance fees to all sites, museums, and attractions
- Private first-class, air-conditioned motorcoach transportation
- Personal listening devices for touring
- Airport transfers
- Informative map book to be used throughout your journey
- Personalized luggage tags and name badge
- Keepsake journal and pen to document your journey
October 13, 2019 - Day 1
Paris Arrival and Transfer to Normandy
From Charles de Gaulle Airport, guests board a private motor coach to Normandy, a region vital to the military and political life of Europe for hundreds of years—and, during World War II, the site of the Allied invasion that turned the tide of the war in Western Europe. This evening, guests settle in to the private château and enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner with fellow tour members.
Château (R, D)
October 14, 2019 - Day 2
Normandy – Arromanches
The day begins where British paratroopers fired the first shots of the invasion at Pegasus Bridge, just after midnight on June 6, 1944. The tour then follows the coastal road past Sword, Juno, and Gold Beaches on the way to Arromanches, site of an artificial harbor constructed by the Allies. Next is a trip to the guns at Longues-sur-Mer, the only German battery in Normandy with its original guns still in place.
Château (B, R, D)
October 15, 2019 - Day 3
Normandy – Sainte-Mère-Église & Utah Beach
A full morning features the once-occupied Château de Bernaville and the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, where the 82nd Airborne Division fought tenaciously for control of this vital crossroads. Other highlights in the area include La Fière Bridge, Musée Airborne, and the church made famous in the film The Longest Day. After lunch, explore Brécourt Manor, scene of Dick Winter’s D-Day assault featured in the miniseries Band of Brothers. End the day’s touring at Utah Beach and examine detailed recreations of the German beach defenses at the Utah Beach Museum.
Château (B, R, D)
October 16, 2019 - Day 4
Normandy – Omaha Beach & Normandy American Cemetery
Your final full day in Normandy begins at Pointe du Hoc, where the 2nd Ranger Battalion landed at the base of a 100-foot cliff and had to scale the vertical face in order to attack this heavily fortified German position. A visit to nearby “Bloody Omaha” honors the sacrifices made on its sands, while a close-up view of the intricate German defense system at St. Laurent-sur-Mer and Vierville-sur-Mer gives a sense of the overwhelming odds those soldiers faced. The day concludes with a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery to pay respects to the 9,387 Americans buried in the ground they helped liberate. Enjoy a “Farewell to Normandy” dinner at the château this evening.
Château (B, L, R, D)
October 17, 2019 - Day 5
Bayeux / Board S.S. Joie de Vivre
This morning’s tour is devoted to the picturesque town of Bayeux, beginning with a viewing of the Bayeux Tapestry—a 230-foot-long embroidered chronicle of William the Conqueror’s cross-channel invasion of England in 1066. Continue to the iconic skyline feature of Bayeux and the medieval center of the town, the Bayeux Cathedral, where a guided tour brings to life the construction of the cathedral from crypt to spires. Following free time for an independent lunch and souvenir shopping, journey to Rouen to board the river ship S.S. Joie de Vivre, where the evening includes a Welcome Reception and Captain’s Dinner amid breathtaking scenery.
S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, R, D)
October 18, 2019 - Day 6
Dieppe / Rouen
This morning, head north for a tour of Dieppe, where a 1942 raid by mostly Canadian forces offered invaluable lessons for D-Day. Marvel at the smooth pebbles that make up the beach, and the lack of traction they provide. Imagine the difficulty of landing here and running under fire. The boardwalk behind the beach contains tributes to the men who came ashore in hopes of liberating the town, and a keen eye will be able to spot the German emplacements on the cliffs above Dieppe. After lunch and free time to explore this charming seaside town, return to Rouen. Described by Victor Hugo as “the city with a hundred bell towers,” and the scene of the Eighth Air Force’s first bombing mission over Europe in 1942, take part in a walking tour of the town center or return to the ship to relax before dinner this evening.
S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, R, D)
October 19, 2019 - Day 7
Les Andelys / Giverny
This morning, a hike through the village of Les Andelys to Château Gaillard offers inspiring views of the Seine from a 12th-century stronghold of Richard the Lionheart. After lunch, visit Giverny, Claude Monet’s house and gardens. Monet lived in Giverny for 43 years and is interred in the village cemetery. His house and gardens were the subject matter for many of his most famous paintings and they still attract half a million visitors each year from all over the world, especially painters who are charmed by the unique light of the Seine Valley. This evening, sail towards Paris.
S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
October 20, 2019 - Day 8
Mantes-la-Jolie (Guests select between two destinations for the day):
- The Palace of Versailles was the site of the ill-fated WWI peace treaty that helped set the stage for World War II, and is an architectural marvel known for the Hall of Mirrors as well as royal apartments furnished in the style of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
- Château Malmaison, once home to Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, is filled with exquisite Empire-style furnishings, and features gardens that were worldfamous in her day.
The evening provides a royal finish with a farewell reception and dinner aboard the luxurious S.S. Joie de Vivre as we sail into the heart of Paris.
S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
October 21, 2019 - Day 9
Disembark from the S.S. Joie de Vivre for transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport or the Westin Vendôme for the optional Liberation of Paris tour extension.
October 11-13, 2019 - Optional Pre-Tour
Liberation of Paris
Our custom-curated pre-tour extension in Paris focuses on the occupation of the city and its liberation in August 1944. Guests first follow in the infamous footsteps of Hitler, visiting some of the sites he admired during his victory tour in June 1940, including the Eiffel Tower, the Opera, and the Pantheon. The second day of touring starts at Hôtel Le Meurice, where the high drama of German surrender played out, before heading to the Hôtel de Ville where liberating American troops fought fiercely in August 1944. Visit L’Arc de Triomphe and Les Invalides, where Napoleon is entombed. Afternoons are left free for you to dine at your favorite Parisian restaurants for lunch and explore the City of Light on your own.
(2) Breakfasts, (1) Reception & Lecture included
James Holland is a historian, writer, and broadcaster. The author of the best-selling Fortress Malta, Battle of Britain, and Dam Busters, he has also written nine works of historical fiction, five of which feature the heroic Jack Tanner, a soldier of the Second World War. He is currently writing the third and final volume of a new history of the Second World War in the West. The first volume, The War in the West: Germany Ascendant, 1939-1941, and the second, The Allies Strike Back: 1941-1943, are available now. He regularly appears on television and radio, and has written and presented the BAFTA-shortlisted documentaries Battle of Britain and Dam Busters for the BBC, as well as The Battle for Malta, Cold War, Hot Jets, and Normandy ‘44.
John C. McManus, PhD
John C. McManus is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of US Military History at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and one of the world’s leading historians of World War II. He has written 12 books, most of which cover some aspect of the American combat experience in World War II, including The Americans at D-Day, The Americans at Normandy, September Hope: The American Side of a Bridge Too Far, and The Dead and Those About to Die, D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach. He is in frequent demand as a speaker and has made hundreds of appearances as an expert commentator for radio and television outlets. He has led battlefield tours from Normandy to Berchtesgaden. During the 2018-2019 academic year, he will occupy the Leo A. Shifrin Chair of Naval and Military History at the US Naval Academy.
Please be prepared to select your château property in Normandy and cabin level of accommodation on the river cruise at the time of booking. Guests who book a suite aboard S.S. Joie de Vivre will receive a suite at the château of your choosing. Guests booking in the French Balcony category will have the option to upgrade to a suite at the château, if desired. All other levels of accommodation will receive Standard/Classic or Deluxe rooms as assigned by the château. Château selections are first come, first served, and based on availability.
S.S. Joie de Vivre
Take a front-row seat to history in France’s sumptuous Châteaux and on the exquisite riverboat S.S. Joie de Vivre
Uniworld’s five-star S.S. Joie de Vivre has been exclusively chartered by The National WWII Museum for our valued guests. Quite possibly the finest river ship on the waterways of Europe, her 64 staterooms and suites exude the elegance and charm of the chateâux in the region she sails. The ship’s one-of-a-kind décor features handcrafted furniture, original artwork, and signature accents inspired by 20th-century Parisian design. Public spaces include the Salon Toulouse with full-service bar, multiple dining venues, an intimate wine bar, and Le Club L’Esprit, an area dedicated to health and well-being, with a day spa, fitness center, and pool.
Château D’Audrieu, a 5-star hotel situated between Caen and Bayeux in Calvados, is ideally located in the heart of Normandy’s countryside. During World War II, the German army set up their headquarters here. On June 8, 1944, 24 members of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and two British soldiers were killed in the orchards, forests, and clearings around the château. This 18th century residence is listed as a Historical Monument, and joined the prestigious Relais et Châteaux Association in 1977. Twenty-nine elegant rooms with garden views feature satellite TV, Wi-Fi access, and minibars. Suites offer original Louis XV and XVI furniture, or art deco styling. Le Séran restaurant serves high-end cuisine. The property also includes a bar, period-style lounges, and a charming breakfast room.
Château la Chenevière
Château la Chenevière is a 5-star hotel renovated from an 18th-century mansion and farm. The château was occupied by the Germans during World War II, and then the Americans after the D-Day landings. It was fully restored in 1988 to become the lush hotel-restaurant it is today. La Chenevière boasts twenty-eight spacious and comfortable rooms that reflect the elegance and romance of its design. The decor of each room has an individual design, with a perfect blend of modern comforts and traditional luxury. Room amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, fully stocked minibar, hair dryer, bathrobe and slippers, and courtesy l’Occitane toiletries.
Price per person based on double occupancy
Grand Suite - Victor Hugo Deck
Suite - Victor Hugo Deck
Deluxe French Balcony - Victor Hugo Deck
French Balcony - Balzac Deck
Classic - Balzac Deck
Optional Two-Night Pre-Tour Extension Program - Liberation of Paris - Double Occupancy
Price per person based on single occupancy
Optional Two-Night Pre-Tour Extension Program - Liberation of Paris - Single Occupancy