Discover the essence of Normandy as well as its pivotal role in history on a seven-night, small-group journey. Explore Mont-Saint-Michel, the medieval monastery that seemingly rises from the sea. Taste Normandy’s contributions to French cuisine, and sip Calvados, the region’s celebrated cider brandy, in an apple orchard. And as the world marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, spend two full days visiting Omaha and Utah beaches, Normandy American Cemetery and other sites associated with this crucial World War II battle, plus gain insights during engaging lectures. Enjoy first-class accommodations in Honfleur and an extensive meal plan, featuring wine with dinner. There is no supplement for solo travelers.
Depart gateway city
AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Paris, France. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: CDG.
Arrive at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the designated meeting spot, where an AHI Travel representative will meet them. The meeting location will be provided with your final documents. Transfer to the Mercure Honfleur Hotel. Please note that if you arrive at the hotel before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available. Tonight, at the hotel, get acquainted with your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception, and then share a Welcome Dinner together at one of Honfleur’s outstanding restaurants.
Get to know your home base, the quintessential French port town that has captivated artists for centuries, including Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet and native son Eugène Boudin. Soak up the maritime ambience of its picture-perfect, 17th-century Vieux Bassin, or old harbor, located where the Seine River meets the English Channel. From the 16th to 18th centuries, Honfleur became an important trading seaport and a launching point for exploration. In 1608, French explorer Samuel de Champlain departed from Honfleur on an expedition to the New World and founded the colony that became Quebec City. Stroll through the colorful harbor and along the narrow side streets to see Honfleur’s landmarks. The wooden Church of Sainte-Cathérine, crafted by 15th-century shipbuilders, is a special stand-out with ceilings over its two naves that resemble upturned hulls. Free Time: Explore on your own this afternoon in Honfleur. Indulging in Normandy’s delectable culinary treats should be high on your to-do list! The region has an enduring tradition of producing specialty cheeses that are among France’s best with the rich milk of the Normande cows. Sample its four world-class cheeses, Camembert de Normandie, Livarot, Neufchâtel and Pont-l’Evêque, which are all AOC-certified for origin and production methods. Pair them with some fresh crusty bread and a glass of the crisp, local apple cider!
For centuries, pilgrims have made their way to the spectacular abbey perched atop Le Mont Saint-Michel, a tiny, granite tidal island off the Normandy coast. Today, make your own pilgrimage to this UNESCO World Heritage site that towers over the surrounding flat white sands like an astounding mirage. On a guided tour, explore this singular island that has served as a fortress, monastery and prison, and step inside the tranquil abbey church, a blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles. If you’d like, walk along the ramparts to watch the tides and admire the panoramic vistas.
Visit the award-winning Caen Memorial Museum and learn about World War II, the D-Day landings, the Battle of Normandy and the Cold War through an array of informative exhibits, photos and video footage. Savor lunch at a traditional Norman Calvados distillery, Les Verges du Ducy, nestled in 42 acres of apple orchards. Calvados, the region’s renowned apple cider brandy, is among the world’s finest brandies. After a delicious meal of local specialties, head to the cellar for a tasting of smooth Calvados. The Normandy coastline provided the theater for Operation Overlord, one of history’s largest and most complex military operations, involving more than 160,000 American, British and Canadian forces arriving by air and sea across 50 miles of territory occupied by German troops. In the very early hours of June 6, 1944, paratroopers and glider units landed inland, tasked with sealing off German access to the amphibious assault sites. By daybreak, the second phase began, as infantry and tanks came ashore on five beaches, codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, supported by 12,000 aircraft and thousands of ships. As you visit the Musée du Débarquement at Utah Beach, gain riveting insights from your guide about how the invasion unfolded. Then travel to the nearby village of Sainte-Mère-Église. It was here that U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions faced heavy casualties and later captured the town, securing its key crossroads. This evening, delight in the region’s flavorful cuisine at a restaurant in Honfleur’s scenic old harbor.
Spend the day exploring on your own. Perhaps take a side trip to nearby LeHavre to view the remarkable art collection at the Musée d’art moderne André Malraux, featuring pieces by Monet, Pissaro, Renoir and Dufy. Staying in Honfleur? Take a leisurely walk along the sea walls or relax at a waterfront café with a tasty bowl of moules marinières. Your Travel Director will be on hand to offer suggestions and assist you with arrangements. This evening, delve into the origins of the Resistance, its leaders and the heroic efforts of the French patriots who fought to liberate their country.
Arromanches/Omaha Beach/Normandy American Cemetery/Pointe du Hoc
During an insightful talk, discover the pivotal role that Normandy and its citizens played during this crucial period of the Allied war effort. Journey back to the coast to continue your D-Day explorations. See Arromanches, site of one of the offshore mulberry harbors. A feat of engineering, these artificial, floating harbors were a clever solution to the problem of how to funnel enormous resources into France to wage war against Hitler. Components, including hollow concrete blocks and floating steel roadways, were constructed in England and towed across the English Channel. Within days of Arromanches’ liberation, construction teams created a breakwater with the concrete blocks and sunken ship hulls and began assembling the pier roadways. When completed, these harbors could move 7,000 tons of vehicles and supplies per day from transport ships onto the shore. Break for lunch at a restaurant in Arromanches. Then, contemplate the extraordinary bravery of the Allied landing forces as you walk along Omaha Beach, where U.S. forces valiantly advanced under devastating fire across the heavily fortified shoreline to overcome German troops. In Colleville-sur-Mer, pay a poignant visit to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, set on a beautiful bluff overlooking Omaha Beach, which contains 9,385 graves of Americans who died in the invasion and subsequent battles, as well as a serene memorial garden honoring those missing in action. Finally, visit Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Rangers courageously scaled 100-foot cliffs to destroy German artillery emplacements that posed a threat to troops landing on Omaha and Utah beaches. With your guide, learn more about this mission and go inside the German defensive emplacement.
Travel to Bayeux and view the 200-foot-long embroidered Bayeux Tapestry, which vividly depicts more than 50 scenes surrounding William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The elaborate piece was commissioned in 1077 for Bayeux’s Nôtre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Norman Gothic architecture, which you will visit today. Tonight, share stories of your time in Normandy at a Farewell Reception at the hotel, then gather for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Depart for gateway city
After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.