“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you.” -- General Dwight D. Eisenhower (June 5, 1944)
These words spoken to allied troops from the USA, Canada, and Great Britain the day before what would come to be known as D-Day, will be true once again as this summer we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the greatest seaborne invasion in history. The eyes of the world will once again be upon Normandy.
France is commonly included in one of the first treks to Europe for most Americans and many continue to return for the chic of Paris or warmth of the French Riviera. However, if you have not yet strolled the quaint streets, experienced the museums and memorials, or toured the historic beaches of Normandy, then I would encourage you to let us plan these and many more unforgettable experiences waiting for you in northwestern France this year.
No matter how many times you’ve been to Paris, there is always more to see and do in the ‘City of Lights’. My travel advisors will work with you to understand what you’ve already experienced of Paris, then custom-craft your new foray into this iconic destination. Beginning your journey with an immersion into the food, wine, and culture is the best preparation for your exceptional week ahead.
Enjoy the sights of the French countryside as we transfer you north to Giverny, where you’ll experience the home and gardens of one of the world’s most important Impressionist painters, Claude Monet. You’ll walk the lush gardens that inspired some of his most famous works and explore the studio and home where he lived for more than 40 years. After an inspired lunch, you’ll continue to the charming village of Honfleur. It is certain to be one of the most enchanting villages you will ever experience. The wealthy Honfleur families built their high-rise homes close together and packed tight around the Vieux Bassin, the heart of this port town. Today, you’ll find a lovely assortment of shops and restaurants to enjoy while watching yachts jockeying for position in the harbor from a terrace just across the cobblestones near the water. You’ll overnight in Honfleur where we also recommend an early morning stroll to take in the quietness of this picturesque setting.
After breakfast, you’ll move along the coast to the medieval town of Bayeux, known as the gateway to Normandy and the first town to be liberated in mainland France. Your private guide will provide personal stories of our soldiers and the locals as you visit the WWII museums and walk the beaches our men stormed on that historic day. Although Gold Beach is closest to Bayeux, we recommend a day at Omaha and Utah beaches, where Americans began the assault at first light and low tide the morning of June 6, 1944.
Walk with your guide along Omaha Beach hearing the details of the epic battle as you step where they fought and fell. You’ll experience an overwhelming sense of gratitude for their challenges and triumphs. Visit the American cemetery, where nearly 10,000 white tombstones mark the memory of our men and in the Visitor’s Center you can access the database housing each of their stories. At the Utah Beach Museum, you’ll admire an original B26 bomber, one of only six remaining in existence worldwide. While you’re there, see the epic experience of American soldiers through the award-winning documentary “Victory in the Sand”. By the end of your time at Omaha and Utah beaches, you will understand the strategic choices for the Allied invasion and reasons for our success, leading to the end of WWII.
Spend a relaxing day walking the old town of Bayeux, miraculously spared from shells during the war. You’ll enjoy the Aure river as it gently weaves under the stone bridges throughout the city and marvel at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. You may also want to learn the art of 17th century lace-making or view the famous 900-year-old Bayeux Tapestry, which stretches an impressive 223 feet and depicts the Norman conquest of England.
Next along the coast, you must experience the amazing Mont Saint Michel. This gravity-defying, medieval monastery sits atop a magical island and is one of France’s most stunning sights. This holy mount, along with its breathtaking bay, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wear your best walking shoes as our private guide will take you past the crowds and up into the mesmerizing abbey to share an insider’s view of this marvel.
If you have the time, we also recommend moving on to spend a couple of nights in Bordeaux exploring the restored boardwalk along the river while enjoying some of their famously wonderful wine. You’ll then return to Paris for one last dinner at Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower before flying home to Nashville with a thankful heart and cherished memories.
I hope this brisk glimpse into the Normandy region provides you with certainty my team will ensure your vacation includes all the most important experiences you desire. I welcome any questions you have and invite you to contact one of my Privileged Journeys travel advisors so we may create a personalized itinerary just for you. Whether you’d like to visit France and celebrate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day or travel anywhere in the world for your own anniversary or special occasion, my team will arrange for your valuable time away to be time well spent.
Please visit our website at evp.travelink.com/privileged-journeys for more information.
- Linda M. Raymer
President of Vacation Travel Services
About the author
Following a career of 35 years in the industry as owner and senior executive of one of the top American Express Franchise agencies, now as President Emeritus at Travelink, Linda's influence and impact on our business and the travel industry is everlasting. Having developed the luxury division of our leisure business, Privileged Journeys, she continues to support our growth and remains available to develop luxury itineraries for individuals and custom groups as well as represent our company in local charity work. Linda has served on the American Express CTN Advisory board as well as the American Express Vacations Advisory Board, the Bedsonline Advisory Board, the Departures Luxury Council and the Departures Magazine ETA (Elite Travel Advisor) Board.