D-Day will forever be one of the most significant dates in the history books. Still the largest ever seaborne invasion, the events of 6 June 1944 may be long passed, but the remnants of that day live on all along France’s Normandy coastline. Of the many poignant reminders of both the losses inflicted on both sides, and the disastrous consequences of allowing one person too much power, the rows of austere white crosses and the monuments throughout the region tell an important story of their own.
Day tours from Paris are feasible although the distance takes roughly three hours to cover in either direction, so the days will be long. Many of the tours schedule a number of stops at various museums, memorials and facilities to give a valuable overview of the region. It’s possible to come away with a vivid understanding of both the events of that day, and their significance for the world as well.
FROM: €205/per person
History lies at the heart of this tour. Key sites visited along the way include Pointe du Hoc; a German fortification, then on to the American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer. There will be a chance to see what’s left of Mulberry Harbour, which was hastily constructed to allow for the speedier disembarkation of troops. Near this spot is the only remaining intact German artillery battery, which gives an idea of what invading forces would have faced on that day. Admission fees and transport are included in the price of this tour. Food and drinks are not.
From €100/ per person
This tour technically starts in Carentan train station. Participants on this tour must buy their own train ticket from Paris to get to Carentan station first. However, this allows a little more time in the region to be whisked from one site to the next in an air-conditioned minivan. Some of the most recognisable battlegrounds from the D-Day landing are including in the itinerary, including Omaha and Utah Beaches, Sainte Mere Eglise, where the 82nd and 101st Airborne units landed, as well as the American Cemetery.
From €190/ per person
To avoid crowds and busy minibuses, a private day trip might be a preferable choice. This tour is especially worthwhile as it provides a view from the defending perspective as well of that of the allied attack. This gives a more complete picture of the devastation on both sides of a war that destroyed a continent. There is more leeway with a private tour to spend more or less time at a particular place. If time allows, additional sites can be visited outside of the main itinerary, such as Juno Beach, where primarily Canadian forces were tasked with defeating the Nazis.