Day 1: Departure
Today we embark on our journey to historic Europe. Prepare yourself for a life-changing experience. Get some rest on the flight…tomorrow you will be walking in historic Europe!
Day 2: Arrive Paris
Today we arrive in the “City of Lights.” We meet our Tour Escort at the airport and are immediately transported into the heart of the city. We have a leisurely bus tour highlighting the many historic locations en-route to our hotel. We arrive at our hotel for check-in. We have free time the rest of the afternoon followed by dinner. This evening we have a memorable introduction to this city with a boat ride down the Seine, viewing the city from an amazing vantage point.
Day 3: Paris (Revolution and History)
Our day begins with an ascent of the Arc de Triomphe, built to commemorate Napoleon’s victories. We take a walk along the Avenue des Champs Elysees to the Place de la Concorde, where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined. We then continue to the Louvre with 400,000 items including the delicate Venus de Milo and Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic Mona Lisa. Our afternoon ends at the cathedral of Notre Dame, scene of Napoleon’s coronation and where we can climb the south tower to look for the hunchback! This evening we dine in the Latin Quarter.
Day 4: Paris (Artists)
This morning we travel to Trocadero and view the fountains below before ascending the Eiffel Tower for a breathtaking view over the city. We continue to the Musee d’Orsay to see the collection of Impressionist paintings, including Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Cezanne. After viewing the exterior of the Opera and Gare St. Lazare, depicted in the Monet painting, we visit the elegant stores of Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette. This evening, either before or after dinner we will visit the Church of Sacre Coeur in the artists’ quarter of Montmartre to admire the views over Paris.
Day 5: Day trip to Versailles
We travel outside of Paris today to the magnificent Versailles Palace. We enter and visit many of the hundred rooms, before venturing into the massive gardens. Upon returning to Paris you are free to explore at your leisure to do any last minute shopping, visit the many cafés before dinner or take in a show at the many theaters Paris has to offer.
Day 6: Paris, Giverny, Rouen, Caen
Today we say au revoir to Paris. Traveling towards the Normandy coast we stop in Giverny. We have a brief visit to the Monet’s House and Gardens. We take time to have a group picture on the famous Japanese Bridge and free time to look around. We continue on to Rouen, a town made famous for the personality of Joan of Arc. We visit the court house and square where this woman of faith was burned at the stake. We also visit the Cathedral immortalized in one of Monet’s paintings. Departing Rouen and en-route to Caen we stop at the Memorial Pour La Paix. This museum houses exhibits relating from WWII to present day. We have an audio visual presentation before arriving at our hotel where we have dinner and overnight the next three nights in Caen.
Day 7: Normandy American Beaches
This morning we depart to the D-Day landing beaches of Omaha and Utah Beaches. Our first stop will be at the Battery at Longues Sur Mer. We then visit the American Cemetery overlooking the eastern end of Omaha Beach. We will take this time to pay our respects to the deceased at the hundreds of crosses and stars of David. Entrance to the Peace Memorial is included. We begin our in-depth tour of the area battlefields by stopping at Pointe Du Hoc, a sheer cliff some forty meters high. It is here that the US Army Rangers stormed cliffs with collapsible ladders and grappling hooks to get onto Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach was a site where very little went according to plan. Unexpectedly strong defenses led to heavy U.S. casualties in the first waves of landings. Then see the Dog Green sector of Omaha Beach, made famous by the movie “Saving Private Ryan.” Losses were especially high here. We will study the battlefields; cross the beaches, analyze the maps and imagine the courage that saved our freedom that day. Our final visit of the day is to Ste. Mere Eglise taken by the American Airborne on D-Day. The town was made famous by the paratrooper John Steel and by the film "The Longest Day". John Steel managed to land on the church and his chute caught on the steeple. He hung there while the fighting continued on the ground for two hours before being cut down by the Germans, taken
prisoner and later released by the Americans. We will also stop at the Paratrooper Museum housing many interesting artifacts including a DC3 aircraft used on D-day together with a glider. We return to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Normandy Beaches to Mont St. Michel
Today we depart the Normandy Beaches area but not before visiting Bayeux where you admire Queen Matilda’s Tapestry, depicting in extraordinary detail William the Conqueror’s conquest of England. In the afternoon visit the famous Abbey of Mont St. Michel, perched on a rocky isle in the Gulf of Saint Malo. Its awesome fortifications were attacked many times during the Hundred Years’ War, but never captured. Following our visit to the Mont, we begin the trek back across northern France returning to our hotel in Caen for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: British & Canadian Beaches, Amiens
After breakfast we return to the study of the Normandy invasion beginning where the first shots were fired, at the crucial Pegasus Bridge. We continue on the way to the guns at Longues-sur-Mer, the battery against which HMS Ajax scored perhaps the most accurate (and perhaps the luckiest) hit of the war. We'll see the evidence that remains. In Arromanches also known as the Gold Beach, we have a special 360 degree movie presentation before visiting the remains of Port Winston where allied troops unloaded supplies during the invasion of June 6, 1944. A score of landing ships struck mines and suffered damage of various degrees. Specialist teams of underwater demolition experts were forced to struggle through the water while disabling mines and blowing the other obstacles, all under heavy sniper fire from the remaining German defenders. At the same time, the British were also landing at Sword beach. As part of the defenses, the Germans had set up mine fields, concrete sea walls and anti-tank ditches. By the end of the day nearly 30,000 allied troops had landed at Sword Beach. Juno, the landing beach for Canadian forces, was the second most heavily defended of the five landing sites chosen. The seawall was twice the height of Omaha Beach's, and the sea was also heavily mined. This afternoon we’ll view the Bridge at Troarn, the D-Day objective of the 3rd Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers. Finishing our day by driving across Northern France we arrive in Amiens for the evening. Upon arrival we visit the Cathedral Notre Dame de Amiens for a lovely evening lightshow. We have dinner and overnight in a nearby hotel.
Day 10: Amiens, Belgium, Bastogne
We return to our study of WWII, as we visit the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery (WW1) – largest US military cemetery in Europe. (Cemetery where Bill Tucker’s uncle is buried) Departing Amiens and entering the country of Belgium we begin our study of The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Campaign and the largest land battle of World War II. We arrive in Bastogne for a visit to the Historical Center & American Memorial. We view a film made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historic battle. We have dinner and overnight in the Arlon area this evening.
Day 11: Bastogne, Heidelberg, Nuremburg
Early this morning we depart Bastogne for a long trek to Nuremberg. En-route, we view the Maginot Line area, viewing a series of permanent fortifications built to protect France’s borders with Germany and Italy. Later this morning we arrive in one of the most charming cities in the entire world - Heidelberg. Heidelberg is the ancient capital of the Palatinate and home of Germany's oldest university but most importantly, it was a stronghold of German Reformed Protestants beginning in 1560. We have a brief free time in the old city center for lunch, before setting out again continuing our trek to Nuremburg. Upon arrival we have dinner and overnight.
Day 12: Nuremburg, Munich
Today we spend time in Nuremburg. Nuremburg will forever have its place in history for many reasons. Early on it was an important publishing center. Later it became the focus for the Pan-German Movement and finally known for the scene of war trials for crimes of Nazi leaders. We visit the Court and Museum of those trials. We also take time to visit Soldiers Field, site of Hitler’s mass Nazi rallies. After free time for lunch we set out traveling south to the un-proclaimed capital of Germany, Munich. Upon arrival we have dinner and overnight.
Day 13: Munich and Surrounding Area
Munich was the center of the German counter-Reformation, as Bavarians sought to strengthen the Catholic Church against the rise of Lutheranism. Enjoy a fascinating city tour today that will highlight Marienplatz which lies at the heart of the Altstadt in the city center. This lively, attractive square houses the Mariensaule (Mary Column) which was built in 1638 to celebrate the departure of Swedish forces. The Gothic new town hall – Neue Rathaus – with its famous Glockenspiel is also in Marienplatz as is the Alte Pinakothek on Barer Strasse which houses works by the major European masters of the 14th to 18th centuries. You continue on to Dachau, an otherwise-charming village established in the 12th century, the center of the Dachauer land, a region north of Munich. Until the Nazis came to power in the early 30's, Dachau had been popular with artists and writers. In 1933 the concentration camp was built for which Dachau nowadays is known. Now the former concentration camp is a memorial to keep the memory of the cruelest crime in history alive. We travel back to the hotel for dinner.
Day 14: Berchtesgaden
We save some of the best scenery of the tour for last, spending the day visiting one of the most beautiful regions, not just in Germany, but in the whole of Europe; Berchtesgaden. We spend the day at scenic overlooks, roadside stops, small villages, all working our way toward climbing to the mountain shelter known as the Eagle’s Nest. We have a lovely lunch at the restaurant now housed at the site before making our way back down returning to Munich for dinner and our final overnight.
Day 15: Depart for Home
This morning we travel to the airport for our flight back to the U.S.