Connect with France's rich history and culture, journeying from evocative gardens at Giverny to hallowed battlegrounds in Normandy. Marvel at the medieval cities of Bayeux and Rouen, touch World War II uniforms and other D-Day relics and discover the gravity-defying monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Cap off your adventure exploring the sights and sounds of Paris—and toasting the captivating capital with fine French wine and cheese.
History lovers and culture connoisseurs will delight in this 8-day exploration of France's Norman villages and World War II sites.
Day 1 – Paris
You're welcome to arrive in Paris any time on Day 1, as there are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting. Feel free to explore before the meeting, but make sure you are back in time to meet the group. After introductions, your CEO will review the details of your tour.
It is recommended to arrive a day or two early to explore this world-renowned city fully. The City of Lights is unlike any other place on earth. Known for its glorious monuments, museums, and markets, Paris has something for everyone from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, Montmartre to the Marais. Discover for yourself Paris je ne sais quoi.
Day 2 – Paris to Bayeux
Depart Paris for Upper Normandy and the quaint village of Giverny. Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived and worked here from 1883 until his death in 1926. Monet felt that his flower and water gardens here were his greatest works of art, and to this day, they are meticulously maintained. These served as inspiration for his celebrated water-lily series and have been named by National Geographic as one of the ten most magnificent gardens in the world.
Then, it's on to the town of Honfleur, which sits on the estuary where the River Seine meets the English Channel and is considered one of the prettiest port towns in France. Its quaint harbour and historic buildings have always been a draw for artists, including Monet. Enjoy free time for a walk and lunch in this pretty seaside Village.
Day 3 – Bayeux
This morning, you'll be immersed in WWII history with a local, accredited expert. Begin with a lecture on the Allied invasion and visit a museum to view and handle WWII relics, including vintage weapons, uniforms, and maps. Then, board a WWII transport vehicle to visit Secqueville en Bessin War Cemetery to learn about the significance of poppies, the ultimate emblem of military sacrifice.
This afternoon, continue exploring with your CEO, visiting Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and the American cemetery and memorial. Take in scenes of the D-Day landing, which had a pivotal role in the history of the world. You'll also visit the moving memorials and beaches and learn about the impact this event had on the direction of the Second World War.
The Battle of Normandy Historical Area is considered an open-air museum and includes all the sites, museums and memorials associated with D-Day and the invasion. Old army bunkers and war relics still exist along the five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, while museums and memorials throughout the region stand as forceful reminders of this decisive period of WWII. In addition, nearly 30 cemeteries hold the remains of almost 100,000 young soldiers who never returned from their service in Normandy. Today these memorials offer quiet space for personal reflection for every visitor, young or old, regardless of nationality.
Day 4 – Bayeux
Today, enjoy an excursion to Mont Saint Michel, an island commune off the coast of Normandy. A UNESCO world heritage site, the medieval fortress is considered one of the most stunning and imposing sites in Europe, with origins dating back to the 6th century. Take an orientation walk with your CEO, then enjoy free time to explore. Opt to visit the abbey, monastery, or museums, or wander the winding lanes and cobblestone streets.
Day 5 – Bayeux
After a few activity-packed days, you'll enjoy a free day to explore Bayeux and its medieval centre. Wander its quaint streets to visit shops and cafes, then take an optional visit to the cathedral and the famed Bayeux Tapestry. Depicting over 50 scenes, the Bayeux Tapestry is a 230 feet long piece of embroidery, made in the 11th century. The scenes tell the tale of the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. This stunning linen canvas was thought to be embroidered by monks in the south of England after the Battle of Hastings in October 1066.
Day 6 – Bayeux to Paris
Depart for the river port city of Rouen, where we take an orientation walk with your CEO and enjoy some free time. Rouen was an important city in the Roman era and Middle Ages, showcased by its historical centre of Gothic churches and medieval half-timbered houses. It is most notable as the place where Joan of Arc was tried for heresy.
Continue back to Paris, where you'll visit the studio of renowned National Geographic photographer Reza. For nearly four decades, Reza has served as a frontline witness to the world's most serious conflicts and catastrophes. Visit his Paris studio and meet with one of his assistants for a behind-the-scenes tour and discussion about Reza's current role as a photographer documenting the ongoing global refugee crisis. Learn what it means to be a National Geographic photographer, how assignments are outlined, and how final images are selected for the magazine. Then enjoy some wine and cheese and get to know the staff of this incredible and important operation.
Day 7 – Paris
Enjoy a morning walk with your CEO in the medieval centre of Paris, the Ile de la Cite. Afterwards, take advantage of some free time to explore on your own to discover the je ne sais quoi of this stunning city. Choose optional activities such as visiting the Eiffel Tower, exploring the city's outstanding museums and churches, floating down the River Seine on a cruise, or simply people-watching. Being the art, fashion, and gastronomy centre of France, there is no shortage of things to do and see.
Day 8 – Paris
After spending your final night in the City of Lights, you're free to depart any time today.