- On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, pay your respects to fallen heroes during a commemoration ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
- A military historian joins our expedition, providing expert insight on the logistics of the Allied assault on Normandy.
- Walk along the infamous Omaha beach with a local historian, and get an in-depth perspective on the historic coastal landings and air invasion by American and Allied forces.
- Get a behind-the-scenes look at Normandy’s artillery batteries, and stand inside the German gun pits on Pointe du Hoc.
Retrace the events of D-Day, following the path of the Allied forces from Portsmouth, England to the shores of Normandy, France. Step back in time at important World War II sites in London. Then cross the English Channel, delving into the poignant events of June 1944 with a military historian. Stroll the legendary beaches and the cratered cliff-top at Pointe du Hoc, and visit villages that still bear the vestiges of war.
The itinerary shown below represents the May 30-June 7, 2019 departure. For other departures, please view itineraries in the Prices and Dates section. The May 30-June 7, 2019 and June 2-10, 2019 are 9-day programs and include a day at the anniversary commemoration ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
Upon arrival in London, check in to our centrally located hotel. The afternoon begins in the Churchill War Rooms, a fortified bunker deep underneath Whitehall from which Winston Churchill directed the British war effort. Wander through the rooms—and the adjacent Churchill Museum—and examine maps, telephones, and items from Churchill’s life. Following our tour, enjoy a welcome reception and dinner in the Churchill War Rooms.
Set out on a tour of London’s highlights including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. Explore the decks of the H.M.S. Belfast, now part of the Imperial War Museum; and visit Norfolk House, where much of the planning for D-Day took place.
This morning, immerse yourself in a world of intrigue and espionage at Bletchley Park and discover the story behind the Enigma code breakers, who successfully deciphered the encryption used by the Wehrmacht. Later, travel south to Portsmouth. At the D-Day Museum, examine the Overlord Embroidery—a stunning handcrafted depiction of the D-Day events that stretches some 270 feet—and see a replica of the map General Eisenhower used to plot Allied positions. Later, take a tour of Southwick House, the former headquarters of the Allied commanders.
This morning, cross the English Channel by ferry. Visit the Pegasus Memorial Bridge and Museum—dedicated to the men of the 6th British Airborne Division. Then walk in the footsteps of thousands of soldiers at Juno Beach and Gold Beach, two of the five landing points for the Allied invasion. Take in the German artillery battery at Longues-sur-Mer, built by the Wehrmacht at a strategic point overlooking the English Channel—and later disabled by Allied bombardments.
Explore the village of Sainte-Mère-Église, where the 82nd and 101st Airborne Division paratroopers dropped from the sky in a hail of gunfire on the night of June 5. View the church steeple upon which one unlucky paratrooper was entangled for hours, and visit the village’s remarkable museum. Continue west to La Fière bridge, site of an important D-Day battle led by the 82nd Airborne Division. Visit a memorial established in memory of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division—known as E or Easy Company—which eliminated a German artillery position at Brécourt Manor during a pivotal moment in the invasion. Then venture into the field where Easy Company Commander Thomas Meehan and his crew perished when their C-47 crashed under enemy fire—an event dramatically recounted in Stephen E. Ambrose’s Band of Brothers. After lunch, explore Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, one of the first villages to be liberated in the D-Day invasion. Continue to Utah Beach, site of one of the two American amphibious landings in the early hours of D-Day, and take an afternoon tour of its museum.
Begin the day with a visit the 11th-century Cathedral of Bayeux, a gem of Norman-Romanesque architecture, and see the Bayeux Tapestry. Then explore one of the most dramatic sites along the Normandy: Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Rangers used hooks and ropes to scale cliffs some 100 feet high in order to destroy key German gun positions. Walk along cliff-top pathways still cratered by mortar blasts, and venture into the concrete bunkers from which German forces unleashed a barrage of artillery fire.
Wander along Omaha Beach, site of the bloodiest fighting of the invasion day. Trace the history of the Vierville Draw, which was a German stronghold and an important objective for Allied forces to clear, and see remnants of German bunkers and fortifications along the Atlantic Wall. At the American Military Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, pay your respects to fallen heroes by laying a wreath. Take in the poignant sight of row upon row of small white grave markers stretching across acres.
On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, attend a commemoration ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooking Omaha Beach. In attendance will be surviving WWII veterans, heads of state, senior military officers, and other dignitaries. This afternoon, drive to Paris and gather for a farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport for your flight home.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This expedition is rated as light; travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents/descents. For those prone to motion or sea sickness, please note that the 6-hour ferry crossing from England to France can be somewhat rough depending on the seas.
Throughout the trip, we stay in ideally located, high-end hotels with many amenities.
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.
PRICES & DATES
Sep 1-7, 2018
Sep 15-21, 2018
- Transfers upon arrival and departure
- Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
- Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP
A National Geographic expert will accompany each departure to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed here are some of the experts that will be joining departures on this trip.
Martin K.A. Morgan is an author and historian who specializes in American and military history. He is the author of Down To Earth: The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Normandy and The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion. Martin contributes frequently to World War II Quarterly and The American Rifleman, and he has also written for Aviation History, World War II, World War II History, Armchair General, the Garand Collector’s Association Journal, 39/45 (France) and After the Battle (England). Martin has appeared in television programs relating to historical subjects on the National Geographic Channel, the Discovery Channel, History, H2, the Weather Channel, Syfy, the Outdoor Channel, the Smithsonian Channel, and The Military Channel/The American Heroes Channel. With a background as a park ranger and a museum professional, Martin’s experience in public history paved the way for the publishing and broadcasting work he does today. Since 2002, he has been leading battlefield tours around the world, especially in Europe.
Historian and retired archivist Timothy Mulligan has written three books and 20 articles on military history, most relating to the Second World War in Europe, including Lone Wolf: The Life and Death of U-Boat Ace Werner Henke and Neither Sharks Nor Wolves: The Men of Nazi Germany’s U-Boat Arm. He received his Ph.D. in diplomatic history from the University of Maryland in 1985. During his 34-year tenure as an archivist with the National Archives and Records Administration, he also compiled the two-volume finding aid World War II: Guide to Records Relating to U.S. Military Participation. This guide describes approximately 200,000 cubic feet of records in National Archives custody, and received the Society of American Archivists’ C.F.W. Coker award in 2009. Now retired, Timothy teaches a course on “History Through Hollywood.”