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
Depart the US, Paris Arrival, and Transfer to Normandy
Depart the US on October 12 and arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on the morning of October 13. Guests are warmly welcomed during a breakfast reception at the Sheraton Charles de Gaulle Airport hotel and transfer to Normandy mid-day. Enjoy the scenic coach ride to the Normandy region, with a stop for an independent lunch along the way. After enjoying some free time to relax or explore the grounds of your preferred château, the group gathers this evening for introductions and an itinerary overview during a welcome reception and dinner.
Accommodations: Château (R, D)
October 14, 2019 - Day 2
The British Sector
Today’s tour of Normandy begins where the first shots of the invasion were fired by British glider troops at the crucial Pegasus Bridge. Guests learn about Major John Howard and his men of the “Ox and Bucks” and how they were able to secure and hold the bridge. Drive along the British and Canadian sectors while hearing stories of the landings that took place to the east of the American assaults,
then visit the Grand Bunker Museum. Midday, arrive at Arromanches, explore this quaint village, and enjoy lunch on your own. This afternoon, view the remains of a “Mulberry Harbor” and gain insight into this great feat of engineering and ingenuity. Next, a trip up the commanding bluff culminates with a screening of Cinema Circulaire 360 followed by a visit to the German gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer. This evening join the group for dinner at the château.
Accommodations: Château (B, R, D)
October 15, 2019 - Day 3
US Airborne: Sainte-Mère-Église & Utah Beach
This morning starts with an exclusive visit to Château de Bernaville, which served as the headquarters of German General Wilhelm Falley. In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, US paratroopers ambushed and killed General Falley, making him the first German general killed in the Normandy campaign, while also disrupting the German defenses at a critical moment in the Allied landing. Next, visit the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, where paratroopers landed during the predawn hours of D-Day. Dropping into the town square, the men of the 82nd Airborne Division fought tenaciously against the German defenders for control of this vital crossroads. Tour highlights include a visit to Musée Airborne and to the famous church. This afternoon, visit Utah Beach, one of the two American landing beaches which had four crucial causeways that allowed for the invasion forces to advance through the flooded fields. Hear the story of General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and visit the Utah Beach Museum, which features a restored B-26 Marauder and detailed recreations of the German beach defenses. End the touring day with a stop at Brécourt Manor, widely known as the scene of Dick
Winter’s D-Day assault in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Accommodations: Château (B, L, R, D)
October 16, 2019 - Day 4
Pointe du Hoc / Omaha Beach / Normandy American Cemetery
The morning tour begins at Pointe du Hoc, where the 2nd Ranger Battalion scaled the cliffs to neutralize the fortified German position. The next stop is “Bloody Omaha” beach, where the US Army overcame the odds to etch a heroic chapter in history. Visits to the coastal towns of St. Laurent-sur-Mer and Vierville-sur-Mer provide a close-up view of the intricate German defense system on Omaha and give a sense of the overwhelming odds American soldiers faced on June 6, 1944. After lunch, visit the Normandy American Cemetery to pay respects to the 9,387 Americans buried in the ground they helped liberate. This evening, take part in a special “Farewell to Normandy” dinner with the group.
Château (B, L, R, D)
October 17, 2019 - Day 5
Bayeux / Board S.S. Joie de Vivre
October 17 – Spend the last morning in coastal Normandy exploring the picturesque town of Bayeux. Touring includes a viewing of the Bayeux Tapestry—the historic 230 foot-long embroidered chronicle of William the Conqueror’s cross-channel invasion of England in 1066. Continue to the medieval center of the town, the Bayeux Cathedral, where a guided tour brings to life the construction of the cathedral, from the crypt to the spires. After free time to shop and have lunch at your leisure, head to Rouen to embark on the
luxurious S.S. Joie de Vivre.
S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, R, D)
October 18, 2019 - Day 6
Dieppe / Rouen
On the northern coast of France lies the fishing community of Dieppe. It was here in August 1942, that the ill-fated Allied raid by mostly Canadian forces would offer invaluable lessons for D-Day nearly two years later. Marvel at the smooth stones, called shale, which make up the beach. Traction is difficult while walking on them, so one can imagine the difficulty of landing and advancing while under fire. The boardwalk behind the beach contains tributes to the units and men who came ashore in hopes of seizing and holding the town. A keen eye will be able to spot the German emplacements on the cliffs above Dieppe. After lunch and free time in 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, just two days before the Dieppe Raid. 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
La Roche-Guyon & Les Andelys or Giverny
This morning, arrive at La Roche-Guyon, the famous 12th century château on the Seine, where Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had
his headquarters. At La Roche-Guyon, “The Desert Fox” planned and prepared the tough defenses that the Allies encountered on D-Day, as well as the German movements during the campaign that followed. After lunch onboard the ship, dock at Les Andelys, and visit Château Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart’s 12th century stronghold, offering inspiring views of the Seine River. An additional option this afternoon takes guests to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and gardens.
S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
October 20, 2019 - Day 8
Versailles or Auvers-sur-Oise
This morning, dock in Mantes-la-Jolie, gateway to both the city of Versailles and the commune of Auvers-sur-Oise. At the end of World War I, the world’s statesmen gathered at The Palace of Versailles to sign the ill-fated peace treaty ending “The Great War.” The defeated Germans ultimately rejected the harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, setting the stage for another world war just two decades later. Visit the famous Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), the actual site of the treaty signing. Also included is an exclusive tour of the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled before an outraged mob in 1789. Alternatively, for those who may have visited Versailles on prior trips, there is the option to tour Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent
van Gogh spent the last days of his life and where he is buried. While in the village, a visit to Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise offers a look at various Impressionist artists who visited this area, or you may spend free time exploring independently.
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 21-23, 2019 - Optional Post-Tour Extension
The Liberation of Paris
Our custom-curated tour extension in Paris focuses on the German occupation of the city and its liberation in August 1944. Guests first follow in the infamous footsteps of Hitler, visiting some of the sites that 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 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.
Accommodations: Westin Paris Vendôme (2 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, & 1 Reception)
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.
Guests who experience this unique journey exploring Normandy and
the Seine River have the option to spend four nights at one of two
hand-selected chateaux chosen to accommodate our privileged guests.
Both rated 5-stars and equivalent in grandeur, immerse yourself in the
profound histories of either Château la Cheneviere or Château D’Audrieu
for the first four nights of your tour. Both centrally located for easy access
to the beaches and battlefields of Normandy, unwind after a full day’s
touring with exquisite dining and rich décor. Guests may choose their
preferred château at the time of booking (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 Post-Tour Extension Program - Liberation of Paris - Double Occupancy
Price per person based on single occupancy
Optional Two-Night Post-Tour Extension Program - Liberation of Paris - Single Occupancy