Take a front-row seat to history in France’s beautiful châteaux and the sophisticated Uniworld S.S. Joie de Vivre featuring authors and historians Keith Lowe, PhD, and Craig Symonds, PhD.
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 Craig Symonds, PhD, and Keith Lowe, PhD
- Full-time expert local guides
- Full-time Museum logistical tour managers
- Four-nights accommodation in Normandy at the hand-selected 5-star Château D’Audrieu
- Four-nights accommodation aboard the 5-star S.S. Joie de Vivre
- Most meals, including: breakfast each day, 4 lunches, 8 dinners, 8 receptions
- House wines, beer, and spirits with included lunches and dinners during land program and throughout the cruise
- 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 when arriving and departing on scheduled program dates
- Informative map book including useful battlefield maps and archival images to be used throughout your journey
- Personalized luggage tags and customized name badge
- Keepsake journal and pen to document your journey
Download The Brochure
Download the official The River Seine to the Beaches of Normandy brochure for a full listing of inclusions, accommodations, and other useful information.
October 13, 2019 - Day 1
The Experience: Depart the US, Paris Arrival, and Transfer to the S.S. Joie De Vivre
October 12/13 – Depart the US on October 12 and arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport on October 13. Guests are warmly welcomed and transferred to S.S. Joie de Vivre. Early morning arrivals may choose to enjoy a morning exploring Paris independently after dropping luggage at the ship or may board the vessel and enjoy the ship’s public areas* before settling into a luxurious stateroom or suite this afternoon. This evening, bid farewell to the “City of Light” during a welcome reception and dinner on the Seine River.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (R, D)*
*Light lunch available on S.S. Joie de Vivre from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm for those arriving in the morning.
October 14, 2019 - Day 2
The Experience: La Roche-Guyon & Les Andelys or Giverny
October 14 – 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 “The Desert Fox” planned and prepared the tough defenses that the Allies encountered on D-Day, as well as the German movements during the Normandy campaign. 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.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
October 15, 2019 - Day 3
The Experience: Versailles or Auvers-sur-Oise
October 15 – 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 illfated 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 that 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.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, L, R, D)
October 16, 2019 - Day 4
The Experience: Rouen / Dieppe
October 16 – On the northern coast of France lies the fishing community of Dieppe. It was here in August 1942, that the ill-fated raid by mostly Canadian forces would offer invaluable lessons for D-Day nearly two years later. Marvel at the smooth pebbles that make up the beach and imagine the difficulty of landing and running while 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 free time for lunch, explore this charming seaside town then 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.
Accommodations: S.S. Joie de Vivre (B, R, D)
October 17, 2019 - Day 5
The Experience: Disembarkation / Bayeux
October 17 – Disembark from the S.S. Joie de Vivre and depart for the picturesque town of Bayeux. Upon arrival, enjoy free time for lunch in one Bayeux’s quaint cafés. This afternoon includes a viewing of the Bayeux Tapestry – a 230-footlong 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. This evening, settle into the Norman countryside at Château D’Audrieu.
Accommodations: Château D’Audrieu (B, R, D)
October 18, 2019 - Day 6
The Experience: British Sector
October 18 – The first full day in Normandy begins where British airborne troops fired the first shots of the invasion at the crucial Pegasus Bridge. Landing their wooden gliders just yards from the bridge, the men of the British 6th Airborne Division surprised the defenders and scored D-Day’s first victory.
The tour then follows the coastal road past Sword, Juno, and Gold Beaches before arriving in Arromanches, known for the remains of an artificial “Mulberry Harbor”, constructed by the Allies after D-Day. Next is a trip to Longues-sur- Mer, the only German battery in Normandy with the original guns still in place.
Accommodations: Château D’Audrieu (B, D)
October 19, 2019 - Day 7
The Experience: US Airborne: Sainte-Mère-Église & Utah Beach
October 19 – This morning starts with an exclusive visit to Château de Bernaville, which served as the headquarters of a German General Wilhelm Falley. In the early morning hours of June 6th, 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 church made famous in the film The Longest Day.
This afternoon, explore Utah Beach, one of two American beaches, with its broad vistas and four causeway exits through 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 Major Dick Winter’s D-Day assault in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Accommodations: Château D’Audrieu (B, L, R, D)
October 20, 2019 - Day 8
The Experience: Pointe du Hoc / Omaha Beach / Normandy American Cemetery
October 20 – The morning tour begins at Pointe du Hoc, where the 2nd Ranger Battalion story of scaling the cliffs to neutralize the fortified German position is told. 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 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 in order 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.
Accommodations: Château D’Audrieu (B, L, R, D)
October 21, 2019 - Day 9
The Experience: Departure
October 21 – This morning, bid farewell to Normandy and transfer to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for individual journeys home or continue on to The Liberation of Paris optional two-night post-tour extension program.
October 21-23, 2019 - Optional Post-Tour Extension
The Liberation of Paris
Our custom-curated 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 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)
Craig Symonds is the Ernest J. King Distinguished Visiting Professor of Maritime History for the academic years 2017-2019 at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He has taught history at the US Naval Academy for 30 years. He is the author of 10 books on naval and Civil War subjects, including Operation Neptune: The D-Day Landings and the Allied Invasion of Europe, which received the 2015 Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. This account offers the complete story of this Olympian effort, involving transports, escorts, gunfire support ships, and landing craft of every possible size and function. The obstacles to success were many. In addition to divergent strategic views and cultural frictions, the Allies had to overcome German U-boats, Russian impatience, fierce competition for insufficient shipping, training disasters, and a thousand other impediments, including logistical bottlenecks and disinformation schemes. His latest book, World War II at Sea: A Global History, was released in May 2018.
Keith Lowe was born in 1970 and studied English Literature at Manchester University. After 12 years as a history publisher, he embarked on a full-time career as a writer and historian, and is now recognized on both sides of the Atlantic as an authority on World War II and its aftermath.
He is the author of three major works of history. His first book, Inferno, was a critically-acclaimed study of the bombing of Hamburg in 1943. Using eyewitness testimonies from both sides, it described the horrors of the greatest ever man-made firestorm, which killed around 40,000 people in a single night. His second book, Savage Continent, was a ground-breaking study of the wave of violence and revenge that swept Europe after the war. It became a Sunday Times top-10 bestseller, and went on to win both the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and Italy’s national Herasco History Prize. His latest book, The Fear and the Freedom, is an intimate history of the long-term consequences of World War II, and the shadow that it still casts over our lives today.
Lowe regularly speaks on TV and radio, and he often lectures on post-war history at venues across Europe and North America. He has written for a variety of newspapers and journals, including Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
S.S. Joie de Vivre
Uniworld’s 5-star Joie de Vivre has been exclusively chartered by The National WWII Museum for its valued guests. Quite possibly the finest rivership plying the waterways of Europe, her 64 staterooms and suites exude the elegance and charm of the châteaux found in the regions she sails. Impeccable attention to every detail, a legacy of service and culinary excellence and a custom-curated program for The National WWII Museum will be sure to create lasting memories.
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 the 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.
Price per person based on double occupancy
Deluxe French Balcony
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