Soldiers and Spies

WWII Sacrifice and Espionage Featuring Author Alex Kershaw
May 20 - 26, 2018

Tour Overview

We embark on a unique seven-day, six-night tour of France, visiting sites from Alex Kershaw's New York Times bestsellers—Avenue of Spies and The Bedford Boys—with the author himself serving as lead historian. Guests get an up-close experience at the beaches of Normandy and in the streets of Paris, hearing the stories of espionage, sacrifice, heroism, and tragedy along the way.

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FROM NORMANDY TO PARIS

Join us as guests get an up-close view of the beaches of Normandy while hearing stories of sacrifice about the "Bedford Boys" who came ashore with Company A, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division during the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day. Tour members also roam the breathtaking streets of Paris with Kershaw, who provides depth and context to the espionage that occurred there more than 70 years ago. Avenue Foch, one of the most upscale and exclusive streets in Paris, was home to Avenue of Spies protagonist Dr. Sumner Jackson and his family. Their address at Number 11 was both a meeting place for the French Resistance and a drop site for crucial information. High-ranking Nazis took up residence nearby putting the Jacksons in constant danger. Kershaw’s stories will bring to life the Jackson family’s courage at a time when “Never had so many psychopaths and sadists been based on one street in Paris.”

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Tour Inclusions

  • Full-time access to author Alex Kershaw, who will personally guide guests through the locations that inspired his best-selling books Avenue of Spies and The Bedford Boys
  • Full-time access to a curator Larry Decuers with The National WWII Museum offering additional historical insights and exclusive Museum archival materials
  • Presentations from the Museum’s digital collections, including a collection of video oral histories and digital artifacts curated exclusively for the Soldiers and Spies tour
  • Special access to sites not offered on other tours, including Kershaw’s selections of France’s most fascinating WWII sites
  • VIP events with the opportunity to meet people who were eyewitnesses to the history of WWII-era France, including the D-Day invasions, life in occupied Paris, and the daring efforts of the French Resistance
  • Full-time logistical Tour Manager
  • Expert local battlefield guides
  • Roundtrip Airport Transfers (when arriving and departing on scheduled group tour dates)
  • Five-star boutique hotel accommodation in Normandy
  • Four-star luxury accommodation in the heart of Paris 
  • Private, first-class, air conditioned motor coach transportation
  • Personal listening devices on all included touring
  • Included gratuities to guides, drivers, porters and servers
  • 6 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches and 4 Dinners
  • Free flow beer, wine, and soft drinks with included lunches and dinner
  • Document wallet, personalized luggage tags, and customized name badge
  • Personal journal and pen to document your journey
  • Autographed copy of Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family’s Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris
  • Keepsake travel guide including maps, photographs, and historical information from the Museum’s collections

ADDITIONAL SERVICES

  • Additional pre and/or post-hotel nights
  • Travel insurance
  • Flight assistance
  • Private transfers

We’re pleased to assist you with additional services you may require, ensuring you a worry-free journey with The National WWII Museum.

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Download the official Soldiers and Spies brochure for a full listing of inclusions, accommodations, and other useful information.

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Soldiers and Spies

The Books

Alex Kershaw

Avenue of Spies

The leafy Avenue de Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris’s hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers, and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson, who lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French Resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Just down the road at Number 31 was the “mad sadist” Theodor Dannecker, an Eichmann protégé charged with deporting French Jews to concentration camps. And Number 84 housed the Parisian headquarters of the Gestapo, run by the most effective spy hunter in Nazi Germany.

From his office at the American Hospital, itself an epicenter of Allied and Axis intrigue, Jackson smuggled fallen Allied fighter pilots safely out of France, a job complicated by the hospital director’s close collaborationist ties. After witnessing the brutal round-up of his Jewish friends, Jackson invited Liberation to officially operate out of his home at Number 11–but the noose soon began to tighten. When his secret life was discovered by his Nazi neighbors, he and his family were forced to undertake a journey into the dark heart of the war-torn continent from which there was little chance of return.

Cover of Alex Kershaw's book Avenue if Spies
Alex Kershaw

The Bedford Boys

June 6, 1944: Nineteen boys from Bedford, Virginia–population just 3,000 in 1944–died in the first bloody minutes of D-Day. They were part of Company A of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, and the first wave of American soldiers to hit the beaches in Normandy. Later in the campaign, three more boys from this small Virginia town died of gunshot wounds.

Twenty-two sons of Bedford lost–it is a story one cannot easily forget and one that the families of Bedford will never forget. The Bedford Boys is the true and intimate story of these men and the friends and families they left behind. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and relatives, as well as diaries and letters, Kershaw’s book focuses on several remarkable individuals and families to tell one of the most poignant stories of World War II–the story of one small American town that went to war and died on Omaha Beach.

Cover of Alex Kershaw's book The Bedford Boys
Soldiers and Spies

Tour Itinerary & Map

Full Tour Itinerary

May 20, 2018 - Day 1

Paris Arrival and Transfer to Bayeux

After individual arrivals into Paris, guests meet the tour manager at Charles de Gaulle Airport before heading directly to Normandy. After arriving in Bayeux and checking into the Hotel Villa Lara, the group enjoys an optional walking tour of the historic medieval city before dinner. The walk includes stops at Cathédrale de Bayeux and the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, home of the “Bayeux Tapestry,” which portrays William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. A welcome dinner at Le Lion d’Or Restaurant, where famous photographer Robert Capa and reporter Ernie Pyle ate and first celebrated the success of D-Day, ends the first day of the journey.

Hotel Villa Lara (D) 

May 21, 2018 - Day 2

Sainte-Mère-Église and Utah Beach

Following breakfast at the hotel, touring focuses on the combined efforts of various airborne assaults that took place on June 6, 1944. The first stop is La Fière, where members of the 82nd Airborne fought off four days of attacks from German troops trying to retake this strategic bridge. Guests hear the stories of Bob Murphy and Johnny Marr in their own words, from The National WWII Museum’s oral-history collection. The next stop is Sainte-Mère-Église, where paratroopers landed during the pre-dawn hours of D-Day. After touring the Musée Airborne and visiting the church made famous in the film The Longest Day, guests enjoy time on their own before continuing to Brécourt Manor, where Dick Winters and his men from “Easy Company” made their famous assault on the German guns portrayed in the book and miniseries Band of Brothers. Today’s final visit is to the Utah Beach Museum, where the story of Teddy Roosevelt Jr. and the men who landed on Utah Beach is told. This outstanding museum is nestled in the sand dunes and sea grass that once held German defensive positions. Dinner this evening is enjoyed at a quaint Bayeux restaurant.

Hotel Villa Lara (B, D)

May 22, 2018 - Day 3

Vierville-sur-Mer—The Bedford Boys: One Town’s D-Day Sacrifice

The morning tour begins at Omaha Beach, where the landing craft transporting the Bedford Boys came ashore. While standing on the very section of “Dog Green” sector of Omaha Beach, Alex Kershaw recounts the horror that awaited them at H-Hour on D-Day and their bloody fate, bringing these men and their histories to life. En route to the next destination, guests listen to the oral history of Hal Baumgarten, who trained with Company A and landed immediately after them. Visits to other sites along Vierville-sur-Mer and at St. Laurent-sur-Mer follow, providing a close-up view of the intricate German defense system and giving a sense of the overwhelming odds the American soldiers faced on D-Day. After a special lunch at the hotel casino overlooking the bloodiest sands in US history, the tour continues to Pointe-du-Hoc, a strategic point that overlooks the surrounding coastline. The 2nd Ranger Battalion successfully scaled the cliffs to neutralize this heavily fortified German position. Guests learn about the desperate battle that took place between the unified 2nd and 5th Rangers fighting against multiple German counterattacks before returning to Bayeux for an evening at leisure.

Hotel Villa Lara (B, L)

May 23, 2018 - Day 4

Operation Cobra and Bedford’s Final Fate in Normandy

After breakfast, the tour follows the American advance of the summer of 1944 by heading to Saint-Lô, a stronghold and transportation hub through which the German army could move men and equipment to block the progress. It was in this area, in efforts to wrest the city from German control, that the final two Bedford Boys in Normandy were killed in action. The next stop is at the museum at Le Chapelle de la Madeleine, where guests hear about those who experienced the bombardment in the Battle of Saint-Lô. After lunch and independent exploration, return to the coast at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. The group joins Kershaw to pay respects at the graves of the Bedford Boys, nine of whom are among the 9,387 Americans buried in the soil that they helped to liberate. After free time to reflect and participate in a wreath-laying memorial service, the group returns to Bayeux for a private “Farewell to Normandy” dinner at the extraordinary Chateau de Brouay, where guests will sample the region’s classic fare and its finest Calvados, an apple brandy at this storied Normandy château.

Hotel Villa Lara (B, D)

May 24, 2018 - Day 5

Paris Arrival: Following Kershaw’s Avenue of Spies

This morning begins with breakfast at the hotel before enjoying a scenic drive to Paris for a full day following Kershaw’s Avenue of Spies. Upon arrival, guests visit Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides before touring the “Nazi Triangle,” the upscale area where the Gestapo occupied several offices, including the leafy Avenue Foch, which was one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France. During the tour, Kershaw brings to life the tales of intrigue, deception, and danger that took place at various addresses along the avenue, beginning with American physician Sumner Jackson, the protagonist in Avenue of Spies. Jackson lived with his wife and young son Phillip at Number 11, performing dangerous deeds for the French Resistance right under the Nazis’ noses. Down the street at Number 72, Kershaw recounts Colonel Helmut Knochen’s orchestration of the crushing of Resistance forces from this imposing white villa. Across the street at Number 31, Captain Theodor Dannecker and Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann spent much of June 1942 planning the Grand Rafle—the Great Roundup—of July 16–17, in which German forces took more than 13,000 Jews to a velodrome before sending them to death camps. Continuing to Number 84, Kershaw relays the stories of horror that took place as brutal Gestapo operatives tortured their “enemies,” including legendary British Special Operations Executive agents Violette Szabo, “The White Rabbit,” and “Madeleine,” in efforts to keep their sinister regime in power. This evening, after checking into the Westin Paris Vendôme, guests enjoy an evening at leisure in Paris.

The Westin Paris Vendôme (B, L)

May 25, 2018 - Day 6

The Liberation of Paris

The morning tour of Paris begins after breakfast and includes sites with a focus on the occupation and liberation of the city more than 70 years ago. Guests follow in the footsteps of the Führer, visiting several of the landmarks that Hitler admired during his victory tour in June 1940, which proved to be his one and only visit to “The City of Light.” In addition to the Opera, Notre Dame, and the Pantheon, the tour includes a stop at the Hotel de Ville, where liberating American troops fought fiercely in August 1944, and Hotel Meurice, where the high drama of the German surrender played out, as portrayed in the movie Is Paris Burning? After free time for lunch, the last day in Paris fittingly ends at Père Lachaise, the famous cemetery where guests pay respects to French Resistance heroes and the victims of Nazi rule, many of whom, like Dr. Jackson and his family, were deported to concentration camps. The tour wraps up at Pasco, which became a favorite of Kershaw’s during his many research trips to France, for a farewell dinner with a very special guest who lived through Nazi occupation.

The Westin Paris Vendôme (B, L, D)

May 26, 2018 - Day 7

Return to the United States

After breakfast at the hotel, guests are transferred to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Alternatively, guests who participate in the Versailles post-tour extension program remain for one additional night at The Westin Paris Vendôme.

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Post-Tour Extension

Return to the United States

May 18 - 19, 2018

Our post-tour extension program spends the day at the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris. It was the site where the world’s statesmen signed the ill-fated peace treaty ending World War I. The defeated Germans ultimately rejected the harsh provisions of the pact, setting the stage for another world war. Guests visit the famous Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), the actual site of the treaty signing, and tour the royal apartments, which still look much as they did when Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled before an outraged mob in 1789. The tour then returns to Paris for an evening at leisure in preparation for the return journey home the next day.

The Westin Paris Vendôme (B, L)

Destination Map

Soldiers and Spies

Tour Historians

Featured Historian

Alex Kershaw

Alex Kershaw is the author of the widely acclaimed best sellers The Bedford BoysThe Longest WinterThe FewThe Liberator, and Escape from the Deep, as well as biographies of Jack London, Raoul Wallenberg and Robert Capa. An honorary colonel in the 116th Infantry Regiment, he began his research for his latest book, Avenue of Spies, while leading a tour of Europe for The National WWII Museum. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son. He is currently researching a follow-up book to The Bedford Boys about D-Day.

Alex Kershaw, photo credit: Michael Carroll
Kershaw Describes the Tour
Museum Historian

Larry Decuers

After serving in the US Army's 101st Airborne Division as an infantryman, Larry Decuers joined The National WWII Museum as a curator in 2008. Specializing in infantry weapons, uniforms, and equipment of World War II, Larry brings this vast knowledge on our Normandy and Battle of the Bulge tours. Since joining the Museum, he has curated exhibits on the Battle of Midway, the Eastern Front, and the Air War in Europe. Larry has led multiple tours to Europe, and has led hundreds of tours through The National WWII Museum’s artifacts and armament collection, providing an in-depth perspective of what the soldiers carried and how it affected outcomes on the battle field.

Soldiers and Spies

Accommodations

Bayeux

Hotel Villa Lara

This centrally located, exquisite four-star boutique hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Cathédrale de Bayeux, while placing guests within a short stroll of the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux and the Musée Mémorial de la Bataille de Normandie. The elegant rooms come equipped with free Wi-Fi, flats-screen TVs, and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Buffet breakfast is served daily.

The Westin Paris Vendôme

The Westin Paris – Vendôme, a four-star hotel, is close to the Louvre Museum and the Place Vendôme and offers stunning views of the Eiffel Tower. The upscale rooms offer plush furnishings, Wi-Fi (fee), and flat-screen TVs. Some rooms offer views of the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Amenities include a luxurious spa and an exercise room, plus a chic restaurant serving modern dishes, a lavish 19th-century inspired bar, and a terrace with seating and a fountain.

Soldiers and Spies

Tour Pricing

Program Pricing

Price per person based on Double Occupancy 

$5,495

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Price per person based on Single Occupancy 

$7,294 

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POST-TOUR EXTENSION OPTIONS

Versailles
Price per person based on Double Occupancy

Optional Two-Day Post-Tour Extension Program
$699 

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Versailles
Price per person based on Single Occupancy

Optional Two-Day Post-Tour Extension Program
$898 

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$109 per person taxes and fees will be included on final invoice

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