Day 1: Arrival in Paris
Upon arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, the group transfers to the Normandy region. For hundreds of years, the coastal region has been a vital part of the military and political life of Europe and the development of Western Civilization. Long been famous for its cultural attractions the region boasts, the Abbey at Mont Saint-Michel, the Abbey in Caen, and the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the 1066 Norman invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror. In June 1944, Normandy was the scene of the greatest amphibious invasion in world history. From the beaches of Normandy, the Allies drove inland and turned the tide of the war in Western Europe. This evening, guests join fellow travelers at the welcome reception and dinner at Château de Sully.
Château de Sully (R, D)
Aerial view of the famous avenues of Paris
Day 2: The Beaches of Normandy
The morning tour begins at Utah Beach with the story of the 4th Infantry Division, whom Ernest Hemingway’s joined en route to Paris in July 1944. It was his favorite division. On the beach, guests hear the story of Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who was one of the first men off of the landing crafts on June 6, 1944. The tour continues to Omaha Beach, where the guide divides this famous beach into the different landing sites and explains the unique stories that occurred at each location. Dr. Miller discusses Hemingway’s cross-channel attempt to reach Omaha Beach as part of the Seventh Wave. While standing on the beach, the words of Ernie Pyle in “A Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish” creates images of 1944, with the waves brushing against a line of “socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles and hand grenades” along with other pieces of “strewn personal gear, gear that will never be needed again, of those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.” The day’s touring ends with a visit to Colleville-sur-Mer in order to pay respects to the 9,387 Americans buried in the ground they helped liberate. The visit includes a special wreath-laying memorial service at the American cemetery.
Château de Sully (B, L, D)
Atlantic Wall remnants on Omaha Beach
Day 3: The Bocage / Mont Saint-Michel / Saint-Malo
This morning, guests traverse the Norman Bocage, which threatened to stall the 4th Infantry Division indefinitely, reducing the fighting to field-by-field. The route from Bayeux to Saint-Lo is marked by the dense, foreboding hedges that proved almost impenetrable to the American forces. Upon reaching Saint-Lo, visitors read some of the numerous dispatches covering the assault on the city and the final breakout from Normandy, Operation Cobra. In the afternoon, the tour visits Mont Saint-Michel, a tidal island one mile off the coast of Normandy. Guests enjoy the stunning views of the Abbey and independently explore the small town below. Over dinner, guests relive the meeting of Hemingway and fellow journalist Robert Capa, who dined together at Hotel La Mère Poulard in July 1944. The tour continues on to the walled city of Saint-Malo in the French region of Brittany.
Maison des Armateurs (B, D)
Mont St-Michel at twilight
Day 4: Saint-Malo
To walk the streets of Saint-Malo is to step back in time. The cobbled streets, impressive walls, and stone buildings return its visitors to the city’s days as a haven for privateers. In August and September 1944, Saint-Malo suffered heavily from American bombing raids designed to force the German defenders out of the city. Journalist Lee Miller made her way to Saint-Malo from Normandy in August, believing the fighting was over, but she found the 83rd Division fighting Germans who still held the citadel. Sheltering in a dugout as gunfire caused stones to fall into the street, she remarked, “I cursed the Germans for the sordid, ugly destruction they had conjured up in this once beautiful town.” In Saint-Malo today, the morning consists of a guided tour of the restored city. This afternoon is free to discover the hidden corners and tidal islands independently.
Maison des Armateurs (B, L)
The walled city of Saint-Malo
Day 5: Chartres Cathedral / Paris
Leaving Saint-Malo, the tour moves to Paris, visiting Chartres Cathedral one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site calls it the “high point of French Gothic art.” During the Allied advance to Paris, orders came in for the bombing of the cathedral to neutralize suspected German snipers. Colonel Welborn B. Griffith drove to the cathedral, conducted a full reconnaissance, and reported that there were no Germans inside the cathedral, sparing it from the bombing. Colonel Griffith was killed that same day in fighting north of Chartres. The day ends in Paris with a group dinner.
Westin Paris Vendôme (B, D)
Chartres Cathedral Choir Statue
Day 6: Hemingway’s Paris
Embedded with the 4th Infantry Division, Hemingway was at the forefront of the Liberation of Paris. Guests start the day with a visit to the Arc de Triomphe and a stroll along the Champs-Élysées. The tour continues on to Hotel le Meurice, where the high drama of the German surrender played out before heading to the Hotel de Ville, where liberating American troops fought fiercely in August 1944. The afternoon is at leisure to explore more of Paris. The tour regroups for evening cocktails at the Ritz to embody the spirit of Hemingway’s “liberation” of the establishment on August 25, 1944. Upon arrival, Hemingway reportedly jumped from his jeep, announcing that he had come to liberate the Ritz. After leaving their weapons outside at the request of the manager, Hemingway and his band of liberators entered and enjoyed the finer parts of liberation.
Westin Paris Vendôme (B, L)
Arc de Triomphe
Day 7: WWI Battlefields and the Surrender at Reims
On the outskirts of Paris, the tour visits some of the WWI battlefields before returning to our journey through World War II at the Surrender Museum in Reims. In the early morning hours of May 7, 1945, a surrender ceremony was held in Reims at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. Signed by Walter Bedell Smith on behalf of the Allied Expeditionary Force, Ivan Susloparov for the Soviet High Command, and Alfred Jodl on behalf of the German High Command, the surrender document called on all German forces to cease operations by 23:01 hours on May 8. The end of the war was the end of an era for the war correspondents. After years of covering conflict, heroism, and suffering, a feeling of “What’s next?” followed the initial jubilation. Journalists like Martha Gellhorn, Lee Miller, and Don Whitehead had spent years covering the largest conflict in human history with its tales of horror, sacrifice, and heroism. The subject of their future stories was uncertain. Following the visit to Reims, the journey continues to Aachen and the Huertgen Forest.
Hotel Pullman Quellenhof (B, L)
Day 8: Huertgen Forest and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery
The history of the 4th Infantry Division refers to the Huertgen Forest as a “cold jungle hell—a death factory.” Small advances resulted in heavy casualties. The forest was full of steep hills, thick woods, numerous creeks, belts of mines, and barbed wire rigged with booby traps. The roads were poor and winding, and it was wet and cold. On a coach tour of the forest, guests view the remnants of battle, including foxholes and bunkers. In the town of Vossenack, visitors view the human costs of the war at the town church and the German War Cemetery. The very small church was the scene of close fighting, and was eventually totally destroyed. It was rebuilt after the war with an inscription on the door to commemorate the dead, and a monument in the nearby cemetery. The tour ends with the opportunity to pay respect to the fallen American soldiers at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery.
Hotel Pullman Quellenhof (B, R, D)
"Pontviertel”, Aachen Cathedral, Aachen Germany
Day 9: Departure for for Dusseldorf Airport for Return Flights to the United States
This morning, guests bid farewell to Germany, fellow tour members, host, and the stories of the war correspondents. Guests transfer to Dusseldorf Airport for the journey home.
“Beachhead” Don Whitehead and child
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