Starting in New Orleans at The National WWII Museum, students get an up-close view of the weapons, gear, and materials used in Normandy. Hold an American M1 and a German MG 42, and climb inside a Sherman Tank. Review the specifications of the Higgins Boats that were crucial to the landing operations and hear from WWII veterans while touring the Museum’s immersive exhibits.
Following the New Orleans experience, continue to Normandy for the most immersive and in-depth tour specifically designed for students. Visit private chateaus that were turned into Nazi headquarters and living space for German officers. Walk on all five landing beaches and hear the stories of the heroic men who rallied the troops and pushed the Allied forces inland. Witness the rebuilding that saved historic cities such as Caen, St. Lo, and Falaise. Traverse the Falaise Gap, including the infamous “Corridor of Death,” where the Battle of Normandy was reduced to one farm lane the German Army used to flee a closing encirclement.
Along the way, students will be asked to examine, analyze, and evaluate the decisions made during the campaign. Which bridges should be taken? Were the paratroopers used effectively? What altitudes and flight paths should the bombers take? The discussions prompted by these questions are critical in the development of each student’s academic, citizenship, and leadership potential.
- Male and female chaperones
- Roundtrip airport transfers (when arriving and departing on scheduled group tour dates)
- Pre-tour communication with a Museum Education staff member
- Pre-tour readings and books
- Behind the scenes access at The National WWII Museum
- Exclusive dinner with a WWII historian or author
- Three-star, centrally located hotel accommodations in New Orleans
- Round trip international airfare from New Orleans to Paris, with return flight to the student’s home
- Three-star, historic accommodations in Normandy
- University professor guiding the tour
- Private, first-class air conditioned motor coach transportation
- VIP access to sites not offered on other tours
- Entrance fees to all sites, museums, and historic attractions in itinerary
- Video oral history presentations from the Museum collection
- Personal listening devices on all included touring
- Gratuities to guides, drivers, porters, and servers
- Four-star accommodations at Charles de Gaulle Airport
- 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 11 dinners (all meals while touring)
- Backpack, luggage tags, and customized name badge
- 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.
FULL TOUR ITINERARY
Arrival in New Orleans
Students arrive in New Orleans, and are greeted by Museum staff and escorted to the group hotel. After time to check-in and relax, students view a private showing of the Museum’s exclusive 4D experience Beyond all Boundaries before a welcome dinner at the Museum.
La Quinta Inn & Suites Downtown (D)
The Home Front
Upon arriving at the Museum, view The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George Brown Salute to the Home Front and hear from some of the curators who selected the artifacts for the exhibit. Continuing with the Home Front theme, explore a selection of high school yearbooks from the war years to uncover the many ways that students assisted the war effort. In addition, hear stories from WWII veterans about where they were when they heard about Pearl Harbor and how their world changed soon after.
La Quinta Inn & Suites Downtown (B, L, D)
Behind the Lines
Students begin the day with the Museum’s Behind the Lines tour to get a close-up view of the weapons and gear used during the Battle of Normandy. Highlights include an American M1 Garand, a German MG 42, and a Sherman Tank into which students may climb. In the after-noon, visit the Museum’s immersive Campaigns of Courage pavilion, where the Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries brings to life the drama, sacrifices, personal stories, and strategies of America’s campaign to defeat the Axis powers and preserve freedom. Journey from the deserts of North Africa to the bloody struggle at Germany’s doorstep in preparation for the journey to Normandy.
La Quinta Inn &Suites Downtown (B, L, D)
Travel from New Orleans to Normandy
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans and embark on the overnight journey to Paris.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
Arrive in Paris and enjoy an introductory tour of the City of Lights, including the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. After lunch along the Champs-Élysées, continue to the medieval city of Bayeux, centrally located within Normandy’s battlefields.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
The British Sector
The story of the battle begins at the château of Marie-Louise Osmont, where German soldiers arrived with orders to requisition the property in August 1940. Hear testimonials from Osmont’s own diary about the occupation and liberation of her château as you walk the grounds and rooms of the château. Continue on to Pegasus Bridge, the site of the first Allied victory of D-Day, where glider troops of the British 6th Airborne Division captured this strategic bridge minutes after midnight. The day continues along Sword, Juno, and Gold beaches, and finishes at the gun battery at Longues-sur-Mer, the only gun battery along the Norman coast with guns still in their emplacements.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
The American Airborne
Traveling to the western flank of the invasion, visit the historic crossroads town of Sainte-Mère-Église. At dawn on June 6, 1944, paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division descended onto the town as a barn fire illuminated the sky. After several hours of battle, the town was secured, protecting the route from Utah Beach. A stop at La Fiere Bridge highlights the tenacious battles taking place throughout the Norman countryside. For three days, American and German forces battled for this bridge across the Merderet River and the flooded marshland around it. After a visit to Brécourt Manor, the day finishes with a walk along Utah Beach and a tour of the Utah Beach Museum.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
The medieval city of Bayeux was spared during the Battle of Normandy. The city’s architectural and cultural history remain largely intact, providing a glimpse into Normandy’s storied past. Visit the Bayeux Cathedral for a visible overview of the history of Normandy since the 11th Century. Continue on to the nearly 1,000-year-old Bayeux Tapestry and the story of William the Conqueror’s successful cross-channel invasion of England.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
The day begins at Pointe du Hoc, a cliff that dominates the coast of Normandy between Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. On D-Day, it was believed that guns capable of firing on both beaches would be operational. To neutralize this position, the men of the US 2nd Ranger Battalion climbed this cliff using rope ladders. Finding the guns further inland—and inoperable—the Rangers destroyed them and established the first American command post in Normandy. Traverse the length of Omaha Beach, stopping at the monuments and memorials along the way. Hear the stories of Brigadier General Norman Cota, Colonel George Taylor, and Lieutenant John Spalding, who were instrumental in rallying the troops off of the beach and up the bluffs under heavy fire.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
The Falaise Gap
Experience a solemn visit to Abbaye d’Ardenne to honor Canadian soldiers executed by Kurt Meyer’s 12th SS Panzer Division Hitler Jugend in the garden of the Abbey. The journey into the Falaise Pocket will lead to the infamous “Corridor of Death,” the last escape route for Germans fleeing the nearly encircled area. The view from the Memorial de Montormel gives an expansive look at the pocket and provides the perfect panorama to discuss the strategy of closing the pocket. This evening, dine at the Caen Castle with a veteran of the French Resistance who will share her stories of struggle during the occupation and the triumphant feeling of liberation.
Hotel Le Bayeux (B, L, D)
Normandy American Cemetery
Return to Omaha Beach for a closing visit to the Normandy American Cemetery. Stories of several individuals interred here will be told before a wreath-laying ceremony closes the visit. Return to Paris after lunch for one final evening in France.
Sheraton (B, L, D)
After breakfast at the hotel, students board independent flights to their home airports.
Normandy is an incredibly scenic region of pastoral France, a place of great historical importance for over 1,000 years, where ancient hedgerows and farm fields became hallowed ground for the American experience in World War II. Students will have the unique opportunity to learn in these fields and beaches with experienced Museum staff as mentors. The assigned site scenarios allow students to debate the leadership decisions in the locations affected by the battles.
Students will explore the pages of history and the beaches of Normandy as they receive extraordinary lessons in leadership. The transformation that these students will face during the journey is remarkable. Most may have read about the invasion and researched the battles, but standing on Omaha Beach bluffs, pondering the choices that had to be made to overcome staggering obstacles, truly brings classroom lessons to life. This powerful experience will inspire students to recognize leadership in whatever field of study they pursue.
OBJECTIVES & ACADEMIC BENEFITS
- Complete a rigorous online course to earn three college credit hours (optional)
- Identify and make connections to leadership traits integral to the Battle of Normandy that are relevant to college and career paths
- Learn and develop leadership skills
- Develop research skills through both primary and secondary source research
- Write clear and concise content for a specific audience of peers and museum professionals
- Improve presentation and debate skills by presenting to peers and museum professionals
- Identify the major components of the Battle of Normandy (beach landings, airborne operations, logistics, fighting in hedgerows, breakout)
- Learn through the personal stories of those who were there
EARN COLLEGE CREDIT
Normandy Academy starts in the exhibits, archives, and warehouses of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans and ends in the historic Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach. Upon completion of this program, students will leave with a deeper understanding of WWII history and knowledge of the skills exhibited by some of our nation's greatest leaders as they made decisions that would alter the future of the world. Students who participate in Normandy Academy are eligible to receive three credit hours from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Château of Marie-Louise Osmont
In the small village of Périers-sur-le-Dan, a château sits along a narrow country road three miles from what would become Sword Beach. Marie-Louise Osmont lived alone in the home and kept a diary between 1940 and 1944 that now provides one of the most remarkable accounts of the lives of French civilians during the German occupation and the Battle of Normandy. In August 1940, a knock on her door brought German soldiers bearing notice that her château now belonged to the German Wehrmacht. Over the next four years, Osmont saw numerous Germans move in and out of her home. Osmont’s account varies from brief descriptions of the weather and developments among the Germans to more introspective comments about the value of items during war:
“The fate of this property is no longer in my hands, we are in the midst of chaos, heading towards a near and terrible unknown, and the preservation of rare furniture, antique tapestries, fragile curios, all that seems ridiculous.”
On June 6, 1944, her diary entry begins, “Invasion!” Her home is near the center of the bombardment, and she hears planes overhead and the explosions of the bombs. She takes refuge in a small closet underneath the stairs while the Germans all prepare to leave. By the afternoon, the first British soldiers arrive at her doorstep, and once again her château will be a center for military planning. For the next month, she writes of bombing raids, tanks in the area, and of her concern for her friends in Caen. In August, she visits the liberated Caen to see piles of rubble and the shells of what were once churches. The diary stops soon after, as the hard work of rebuilding lives and cities begins.
Paul J. Wilson, PhD
Paul J. Wilson, PhD, is the Mack Thomas Nolen Endowed Professor of History and an Associate Professor of History at Nicholls State University. With numerous published works on both European and American history, Dr. Wilson teaches a variety of courses on modern US and European history. The author of Himmler’s Cavalry: The Equestrian SS, 1930-1945, he has served as the Principal Investigator for four grants and assisted on three others funded by state and federal agencies. He supervises history interns working at the Regional Military Museum in Houma, Louisiana, is a member of the Teaching Committee of the Louisiana Historical Association, and is involved in a number of community organizations that promote the study of history.
Stephen Michot, PhD
Stephen Michot, PhD, is a Professor of History at Nicholls State University with a specialization in military history and the Civil War. He is a US Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran who served with the 256th Brigade Combat Team in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004-05, giving him firsthand perspective of combat strategies, weapon systems, and military geography. Dr. Michot received his bachelor's degree in government from Nicholls State University, master's in history from Southeastern Louisiana University, master's in political science from Mississippi State University, master's in military studies from American Military University, and PhD in history from Mississippi State. Dr. Michot has published many articles throughout the years, and he is the 1993 recipient of the General Jay A. Matthews, Jr. Prize for Best Article in Military History of the West.
Nathan Huegen is the Director of Educational Travel Operations at The National WWII Museum. In his seven-year tenure, he has overseen numerous trips to Normandy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Belgium. If there is a WWII battle site or bunker in northern Europe, Nathan has looked for it. In 2013, he designed the curriculum for the Museum's Normandy and Student Leadership Academies. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Nathan has conducted workshops at the American Historical Association, the National Council for Social Studies, the National Social Studies Supervisor's Association, and the New York Archdiocese.
Adam Foreman serves The National WWII Museum as the Student Programs Specialist, utilizing over 10 years of museum educational experience. Adam received his master's degree in public history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and participated in the Public History Institute at Yale University. He has worked with The National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, and served as Director of Melrose Plantation. Adam started working at the Museum in 2015, first managing public programs, and he now coordinates the National History Day contests in Louisiana, leads both Normandy Academy and Student Leadership Academy, and manages Get in the Scrap!, the Museum’s national service learning project.
A 14-year-old girl living in a small village between Bayeux and Caen when the Germans occupied Normandy in 1940, Colette Marin-Catherine watched as the Germans requisitioned homes and vehicles, cut down trees to create beach obstacles, and constructed the defenses along the Atlantic Wall. Two of Colette’s uncles lost their lives during World War I, and the family carried an anti-German sentiment into the WWII years. They became active in the French Resistance and suffered greatly as a result. Two of Colette’s brothers were taken by the Gestapo and deported to camps; Neither survived the war.
Colette’s earliest act of resistance was placing garlands and wreaths at the grave sites of her fallen comrades. Every morning the Germans would remove the forbidden decorations, and every evening she would replace them. This daily ritual was part of a strategy she refers to as “annoyance techniques.”
Prior to the D-Day invasion, she also assisted forced laborers in their escapes, and attained the equivalent rank of “lieutenant” in the Resistance. On D-Day, her group’s orders were to serve under the first Allied military unit they encountered. She spent several days assisting Canadian and British soldiers near Highway N13 between Caen and Bayeux. Caen would become a major battle site along the eastern flank, and Colette assisted in evacuating wounded soldiers to Bayeux, which was liberated on the first day of the Allied invasion. After the German retreat, Colette continued to work in the Bayeux Seminary, which served as an Allied military hospital through the remainder of the Normandy Campaign. Remembering her experiences, Colette commented that she aged “ten years in a matter of a few months.”
Normandy Academy College: $3,695* per student (Includes International Airfare)