Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest land, sea and air invasion in history, when more than 160,000 allied troops landed on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy. A significant and historical milestone, with much attention.
As it should have.
As I watch the stories of all those involved, the history, the incredible heroes and heroic actions, I find myself yearning to walk these beaches, to pay tribute to those who fought so bravely for our freedoms. My parents were teenagers during this war, and I imagine families with a direct connection to D-Day feel the same, if not more strongly, as I do.
A perfect way to experience the WWII landing beaches is on a river cruise between the heart of the City of Light and Le Havre, an itinerary that includes a wonderful mix of gardens, art, culinary delights and history dating back to the 13th century. The diversity of experiences is why I have been long drawn to this itinerary.
Is this an itinerary for you? Check out what's included.
(Note- Itinerary stops may differ between cruise lines. Be sure to check for specifics.
The City of Light, where most itineraries start and end, giving you the opportunity to take in the iconic sites of Paris, such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysee. Or discover Montmartre, one of the most romantic enclaves in Paris, linger over a glass of wine at the corner cafe, and simply enjoy the surrounds.
Conflans is situated at the confluence of the Seine and Oise rivers (hence its name). This medieval town with its narrow streets and alleys is known for its distinctive barge homes that are docked near the main square. Typical excursions take you to the resting place of Vincent van Gogh , the opulent home of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Palace of Versailles or the majestic Chateau Chantilly. Some cruise lines dock in MANTES-LA-JOLIE as an alternative to Conflans.
Vernon is the gateway to Giverny, where painter Claude Monet lived until his death at age 86. The gardens that surrounded his rented home are magnificent and are the subject of many of his most famous paintings.
Les Andelys is a quaint village on the Seine, known for the Chateau Gaillard. Now ruins, it was built by Richard the Lion-Heart in 1197 to defend Rouen from the French.
Rouen, the capital of Normandy, was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in France during medieval times. Merchants built lovely timbered homes which can be seen in Vieux Rouen and at the Old Market Square where Joan of Arc was burnt alive in 1431. Rouen's Cathedrale Notre-Dame was often painted by Monet. Some tours to the Normandy Beaches start from here.
Caudebec-en-Caux is a quaint town on the banks of the Seine, with notable landmarks dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Of particular interest is the 15th century gothic style church of Notre-Dame with medieval stained glass windows and an organ that dates back to the 1500's. Some tours to the Normandy Beaches start from here.
Honfleur sits across the river from Le Havre, a major port for France on the estuary where the Seine meets the English Channel. Honfleur escaped damage during the war, and today is a thriving artist community. At its heart is Vieux Bassin, the pretty harbor area that dates back to the 17th century. Some tours to the Normandy Beaches start from here.
The 54 mile stretch of coastline that includes the Omaha, Utah, Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches, is an approximate two hour ride by coach from Honfleur, Rouen or Caudebec-en-Caux. Full day excursions offer options that focus on US landing beaches or the British and Canadian landing beaches. For those looking for an alternative, the option to explore the charming villages of the Normandy countryside, agricultural traditions and culinary delights (artisan cheeses, brandy and cider) is available.
Why see the area via river cruise? Simple - it's easy travel. No packing up every morning to move to the next stop. The captain takes care of the driving. Daily culinary delights and regional specialties. Sightseeing included. You simply enjoy!
NEED MORE INSIGHT ABOUT RIVER CRUISING?
Reach out to Laurie, your river cruise specialist,
at 602.540.7338 or email to get the process started.