By: Terry Dale, President and CEO, USTOA
June 6 marks 70 years since allied forces invaded Normandy, a crucial turning point in the war against Nazi Germany, and people from 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 commemorate 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 USTOA active tour operator members. While many have been exposed to the beaches of Normandy through old newsreels and mainstream films, especially younger travelers, few have had the opportunity to set foot on the historic beaches and sites.
USTOA members provide limitless opportunities to delve into the history of WWII and commemorate the 70th Anniversary of this significant and solemn occasion. Following is sampling of itineraries from members designed to commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Allied troops who fought during WWII:
- Insight Vacations’ nine-day “Normandy, Brittany & The Loire Valley” tour includes two nights in Normandy, two evenings in Paris and two nights in the Loire Valley. Visit www.insightvacations.com for more information.
- From Southern England and Northern France to Belgium and the Netherlands, travelers on the “WWI & WWII Battlefields” tour from Trafalgar will visit a variety of memorial sites beyond just the beaches of Normandy. More details at www.trafalgar.com.
- Worldwide Traveler’s “Back-Roads Touring: D-Day Battle for France” itinerary visits the French cities of Lille, Dunkirk, Dieppe, Bayeux, and the Normandy beaches and is led by a specialist in historic battlefields. Visit www.worldwidetraveler.com.
- Go-Today’s six-night “Paris & Normandy, Saint Malo, Mont St. Michel and Loire Valley Escorted Tour” combines free time and organized sightseeing. Visit www.go-today.com.
- 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. Visit www.getours.com.
- “Northern France,” a private journey from Cox & Kings, follows roads taken by allied forces while listening to anecdotes from a local guide and learning about the heated fighting of WWII at Omaha Beach before stopping at the American Cemetery, Caen Memorial, and other locations related to the war. More details at www.coxandkingsusa.com.
- From a wreath-laying ceremony and moment of silence to exploration of the D-Day museum in Mulberry Harbor and Juno Beach landing site, the “Paris & Normandy” itinerary from Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection honors fallen soldiers. Visit www.uniworld.com.
- Insight Vacations’ nine-day “Normandy, Brittany & The Loire Valley” tour includes two nights in Normandy, so guests will enjoy leisurely yet comprehensive visits to numerous WWII sites. Visit www.insightvacations.com.
- Travelers will gain a greater understanding of D-Day and the beaches where allied forces landed on Gate 1 Travel’s 12-day “Illustrious France” tour. Visit www.gate1travel.com.
- 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.” More details at www.VBT.com.
- 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. Visit www.gocollette.com.
- Travelers get an inside look at the daily rhythms of French life on Tauck’s 10-day “Rendezvous on the Seine,” which includes a seven-day river cruise on the ms Swiss Sapphire, in addition to a guided tour of the D-Day beaches. More information at www.tauck.com.
For more information about tours and packaged vacations, visit www.ustoa.com. And, remember that when booking with USTOA active members, you also get the assurance of knowing that they are held to the highest standards in the industry with our $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program. Visit www.ustoa.com for complete details.