"The Longest Day," "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" are but a few dramatizations that have highlighted the heroism of D-day. From the Normandy landing beaches to fortified cliffs of Pointe du Hoc to the impeccably kept American cemetery above Omaha Beach, we invite you to retrace the first steps in the historic liberation of France and to view these iconic sights from the comfort of a river cruise. The 75th-anniversary observance is a vivid reminder of a time when the fate of Europe hung in the balance and the day was won by months of detailed planning, by devotion to duty and by bravery in battle by American, British and Canadian forces in the largest amphibious landing in history. The cruise via the MS Renoir provides the perfect balance: a military history theme, lectures and informal time with your expert and the chance to explore Honfleur and the medieval town of Rouen, followed by a farewell in Paris, docked in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Jun 3-9, 2019
Interact with individuals and at places that still bear testimony to the sacrifice and courage of Allied troops during WWII.
Go behind the scenes at Allied artillery batteries, and stand inside German gun pits on Pointe du Hoc.
Enjoy time in the picturesque port of Honfleur, and wander the cobblestone streets of medieval Rouen.
Experience the City of Lights on a nighttime cruise, its iconic bridges and monuments at their most dramatic.
Arrive in Paris this morning. Transfer to Normandy, pausing en route to visit the Château de la Roche-Guyon. Originally built in the 12th century as a river-crossing control post over the Seine, the castle became Field Marshal Rommel's headquarters during the war. Take a guided tour of the chateau, followed by lunch, and then continue to the picturesque port of Honfleur and board the MS Renoir this afternoon. Gather with fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail and dinner. (L, R, D)
Discover the D-day beaches and logistics involved in this enormous operation. Travel to Arromanches to see some of the vast concrete blocks towed over from Britain, remnants of the enormous prefabricated Mulberry harbor, where Allied supplies landed. Visit the Arromanches D-day museum and one of the most dramatic sites along the Normandy coastline, Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Rangers used hooks and ropes to scale cliffs some 100 feet 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. Conclude the afternoon wandering along Omaha Beach, site of the bloodiest fighting of the invasion day. At the Omaha Beach Memorial, lay flowers in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Return to the ship in Honfleur for dinner. Guests may enjoy a stroll around the port this evening. (B, L, D)
This morning, join our expert for a discussion on the plans and preparation for the invasion of Europe in 1944. Embark on a guided tour of Honfleur, which will reveal the historic charm of this picturesque port with half-timbered buildings. The city was spared significant damage during the war and was liberated in August 1944 by British, Belgian and Canadian forces without combat. Given the city's strategic position on the right bank of the Seine, this represented, for many, the end of the Battle of Normandy. During your time in Honfleur, discover how the city attracted many Impressionist artists in the 19th century, and visit France's largest wooden church, Sainte-Catherine. This afternoon, enjoy leisure time in the port, followed by a panel discussion with the experts on board. Enjoy a calvados and cider tasting. (B, L, D)
On the 75th anniversary of the D-day landings, observe official ceremonies and commemorations at the American military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer (subject to confirmation). On this major anniversary, these poignant ceremonies will probably be attended by heads of state and other dignitaries. Details to be announced. After paying tribute to those who gave their lives, return to the ship and cruise eastward along the Seine to Rouen. (B, L, D)
This morning, visit the charming medieval city of Rouen, with its cobblestone streets and timbered facades. The Allied bombing campaign in France to slow down the movement of German personnel and weapons, ammunition and other vital supplies hit Rouen particularly hard. Today there is little evidence of the ravages of war in the city. During a walking tour, visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and learn how close it came to destruction. As you set sail, enjoy the picturesque scenery that inspired so many artists in the 19th century. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Paris this morning, and step ashore close to Bartholdi's smaller version of Liberty Enlightening the World, better known as the Statue of Liberty, which symbolizes the special relationship between France and the United States. A tour this morning looks at the Aug. 25, 1944, liberation of the city, starting at the Arc de Triomphe and traveling down the magnificent Champs Elysees to Place de la Concorde, following the path taken by Charles de Gaulle and the liberators. After WWII, many U.S. soldiers returned to Paris on the GI Bill to study, write and create. The city saw a boom in artistic expression, primarily in music and literature. A walking tour through the Latin Quarter led by a historian evokes the bohemian lifestyle and excitement of this bygone time. Celebrate your step back in time during a farewell reception and dinner on board while cruising under the bridges of Paris. (B, L, D)
Transfers to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris will be provided for individual flights home or onward. (B)