This June marks 70 years since allied forces invaded Normandy, a crucial turning point in the war against Nazi Germany, and people from all around the globe will come together to honor the brave soldiers who fought during World War II. At the invitation of French President François Hollande, dignitaries and world leaders including President Barack Obama and Queen Elizabeth II will visit Normandy to celebrate the occasion, which will also be marked with firework displays along the coast at main D-Day sites, military parades, parachute drops and more. Travelers too can honor the courageous veterans who fought with visits to the infamous beaches of Normandy and other influential WWII sites through tour programs and packages from tour operator members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).
“Most people have been exposed to the beaches of Normandy, whether through old newsreels in history class or mainstream films such as Saving Private Ryan which depicts the Omaha Beach assault in opening scenes, yet not everyone has had the opportunity to set foot on the historic beaches,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. “Our members provide limitless opportunities to delve into the history of WWII and commemorate the 70th Anniversary of this significant and solemn occasion.”
Here is a sampling of itineraries enabling travelers to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the allied troops who fought during WWII:
Travelers on “Normandy, Brittany & the Loire Valley,” a nine-day tour from Grand European Travel, will drive along the beaches of the D-Day landings, reflect at the American Military Cemetery of St. Laurent near Omaha Beach and learn more about the historic battle at the D-Day Invasion Landings’ Museum. Other trip highlights include a visit to the charming fishing village of Honfleur, wine tasting with an expert in the Loire Valley, and the opportunity to see many of Paris’ greatest delights, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe. Available April through October 2014, prices start at $2,875 per person. Visit www.getours.com for more information.
Created exclusively for the 70th Anniversary of the epic D-Day landings, Collette’s tour “Memorials of War: Normandy & Paris” takes travelers to the landmarks of D-Day, including Pointe du Hoc, Omaha and Utah beaches, and Caen Memorial Peach Museum. Guests also visit the imposing La Roche-Guyon Castle, former headquarters of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, the man responsible for Germany’s imposing Atlantic Wall, and Chartres Cathedral, spared during the war by an American officer who questioned the need to destroy it. Priced from $2,549 per person, land only, this 10-day journey is available May 2014 through April 2015. Visit www.gocollette.com for additional details.
On AHI Travel’s “Normandy: 70th Anniversary of D-Day” tour, guests will see the contrast between the American Military Cemetery of St. Laurent and the German Cemetery at La Cambe while staying in Honfleur, a classic French town with narrow streets nestled against a striking 17th century harbor. Other WWII sites visited include Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc and the Caen Peace Memorial, among others. Available over 34 separate departures April through October 2014, prices start at $2,995 per person, double occupancy, land only. Visit www.ahitravel.com for more.
Explore France via bike and gain insight into Normandy’s rich history during VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacation’s eight-night “Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany.” In addition to visiting the sandy shores of Arromanches and Omaha Beach, D-Day Museum, and American Cemetery, guests will savor award-winning cider during a farm visit in Normandy, discover Dinan, a fairy-tale-like medieval walled city overlooking the River Rance, and connect with local residents. Available May 16, 23; June 13,20,25,27; July 2,4,9,11,16,18; September 12,19, 26 and October 3,10 and 17, land only prices from $2,695 and air packages from $3,945. More details can be found at www.VBT.com.
Adventures by Disney invites travelers to visit Omaha Beach and take a privately guided tour of the Normandy American Cemetery, create their own impressionistic work of art after a tour of Claude Monet’s home in picturesque Giverny, ride bikes along the famous Deauville seaside boardwalk, and learn to prepare classic French dishes in a private cooking class using fresh ingredients collected at an open-air market, among other activities, on its “France – Eight Days/Seven Nights – Paris, Versailles & Normandy” tour. Available May 24, May 31, June 14, June 28, July 5, July 19, August 2 and August 9, 2014, land only prices start at $5,889 for adults and $5,609 for kids. Visit www.adventuresbydisney.com for more.
“Northern France,” a private journey from Cox & Kings available March through October 2014, invites travelers to relive June 6, 1944. Guests will follow roads taken by allied forces while listening to anecdotes from a local guide and learn about the most vicious fighting of WWII at Omaha Beach before stopping at the American Cemetery, Caen Memorial, and other locations related to the war. History is the focus as guests also learn about French royalty at the Palace of Versailles and the Mont-Saint-Michel, an island commune erected in the 8th century. Prices for this seven-day journey start at $8,995 per person, based on double occupancy. More details can be found at www.coxandkingsusa.com.
Accompanied by a WWII expert, travelers on Abercrombie & Kent’s special “Loire Valley & D-Day 70 Years Later” tour will visit the Omaha sector of the D-Day landing beaches and the American Military Cemetery at Saint Laurent Sur Mer, before proceeding to Pointe du Hoc, a scene of ferocious fighting on June 6, 1944, and home to a new exhibition that recounts the battle through the eyes of American soldiers. Other trip highlights include a private tour of a 17th-centure manor house that produces cider and Calvados (brandy), for which Normandy is famous, a wine tasting at Vouvray wine estate, and a visits to Château d’Usee, which is said to have inspired the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. Available May22-June 1, 2014, this 11-day journey starts at $11,895 per person based on double occupancy. More details are available at www.abercrombiekent.com.
USTOA Travelers Assistance Program
Representing more than $11 billion in revenue, the member companies of U.S. Tour Operators Association provide tours, packages and custom arrangements that allow six million travelers annually unparalleled access, insider knowledge, peace-of-mind, value and freedom to enjoy destinations and experiences across the entire globe. Each member company has met the travel industry’s highest standards, including participation in the USTOA’s Travelers Assistance Program, which protects consumer payments up to $1 million if the company goes out of business.
As a voice for the tour operator industry for 40 years, USTOA also provides education and assistance for consumers and travel agents. For more information about USTOA, visit ustoa.com, call 212.599.6599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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