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The Seine: D-Day Beaches to Paris

Program Number: 12416RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/3/2015 - 4/16/2015; 4/20/2016 - 5/4/2016; 5/7/2016 - 5/21/2016; 5/31/2016 - 6/14/2016; 9/6/2016 - 9/20/2016; 9/20/2016 - 10/4/2016; 10/6/2016 - 10/20/2016;
Duration: 13 nights
Location: France
Price starting at: $3,795.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats; History & Culture
Meals: 32; 12 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Salt; Low Fat    

Trace the events of history’s largest invasion on June 6, 1944, from Normandy’s beaches to the liberation of Paris. At charming ports of call local experts discuss life along the Seine River, ranging from medieval history to Impressionist art.

Activity Particulars

Extensive walking along unpaved lanes and cobblestoned streets; some stairs without railings and/or uneven. Participants should be able to stand for at least one hour.

Please note that the 9/20/2016 date is designed with a Moderate activity level and is meant for participants who feel that an Active program would be too strenuous. Field trips on this date will be slower paced and will follow less strenuous routings wherever possible.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Caen, 5 nights; aboard vessel, 6 nights; Paris 1 night.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-6: Arrival Paris (France) / coach to Caen:

Trace the events of D-Day with experts at Sainte Mere Eglise, and Utah and Omaha beaches. Study the logistics of the landing, the technology used, and the planning stages, as well as military division involved.
Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

Day 7: Caen / coach to Honfleur / embark vessel:

Enjoy a free morning before visiting Le Memorial de Caen, a major museum dedicated to the history of the 20th century. Board the ship in the late afternoon.

Day 8: Honfleur:

Discover the unique architecture of historic Honfleur and visit one of the last remaining wooden churches. At the scenic Musee Eugene Boudin, examine works by Eugene Boudin, Dubourg, Monet and others.

Days 9-10: Caudebec / Rouen:

Take an in-depth look at the foundation of the region’s Benedictine Monks at the Abbey of Saint Wandrille. On a narrated walk through Rouen, explore the city’s half-timbered houses and the site of Joan d’Arc’s trial and execution.

Day 11: Giverny:

Wander through Monet's gardens at Giverny and study the history of Impressionism along the Seine.

Days 12-14: Paris / disembark / departure:

Discover the capital of France and the beginning of Paris on the Ile de la Cite, and later explore the historic sites of the city's occupation and final liberation in August 1944. Visit the Louvre Museum and enjoy some free time to see more of the city. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

MS Seine Princess

The MS Seine Princeses features two decks with a dining room, lounge-bar with a dance floor, library and gift shop. The ship's one-sitting restaurant serves artfully prepared traditional French cuisine, and the sundeck offers an incredible view of the Seine as it meanders through Normandy and into Paris.


The epicurious and the curious find much to admire in Western Europe’s largest nation, whose agricultural riches and terrain of beaches, mountains and fertile fields have drawn residents for thousands of years. The northern region hosts the nation’s Parisian capital, as well as unique Breton culture, while the sun-drenched Mediterranean coast sports the chic beach-goers and the terraced vineyards of the interior.

Meals and Lodgings
   Best Western Hotel Moderne
  Caen, France 5 nights
   CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
  Honfleur, France
Caudebec, France
Rouen, France
Vernon, France
Paris, France
6 nights
   Villa Montparnasse
  Paris, France 1 night
 Best Western Hotel Moderne
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Best Western Hotel Moderne has a combination of charm, comfort and tradition. You will appreciate the excellent services including a lounge bar, a sauna and a conference room. The hotel is ideally situated less than 2 minutes from the Caen's historic centre and the harbour. Explore William the Conqueror's city at your own pace : the Abbey of St. Etienne (Men's Abbey) and William's grave, the ladies' Abbey and Mathilde's grave. Departing from the hotel you can take a leisurely stroll around the pedestrian streets in the town centre where you can find the department stores (Galeries Lafayette, Printemps...), the theatre and the cinema. Nearby, the picturesque district of Le Vaugueux and its numerous restaurants, invites you in a small greedy escape in the Norman flavors.
  Contact info: 116, boulevard du Maréchal-Leclerc
Caen,  14000 France
phone: +33 (#)2 31 86 04 23
  Room amenities: Telephone, Free wifi access, Flatscreen television with satellite channels, Minibar, Safety deposit box, Bathroom with bath, hairdryer, separate toilet.
  Facility amenities: Bar, 24-Hour Front Desk, Newspapers, Elevator, Safe, Baggage Storage, All Spaces Non-Smoking (Public and Private), Air Conditioning, Sauna, Meeting/Banquet Facilities, Laundry, Dry Cleaning, Fax/Photocopying, Concierge Service, Free Wi-Fi is available in all areas.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 1:00 PM

 CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Type: Riverboat
  Description: The MS Seine Princess sails on the Seine.
  Ship Information: Year Built: 2002 Year Refurbished: 2010 Length: 360 feet Width: 37 feet Total Cabins: 67 Total Passengers: 138 Cabin Size: 140 sq. feet
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +0033 3 88 76 44 44
  Room amenities: All cabins have individual controls for AC and heat. Cabins are equipped with satellite television, a radio, a hairdryer and a safe for your valuables. The private en-suite facilities include a shower, toilet, sink, and are provided with towels, but not washcloths.
  Facility amenities: Amenities include: dining room, lounge, bar and dance floor, gift shop, sun deck with deckchairs, and free WiFi on board. Also included: central heating, air conditioning, 220V electricity, radar, and radiophone.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Villa Montparnasse
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Villa Montparnasse is a quaint hotel on the left bank of the Seine. The colonial-style residence is located in the 19th century intellectual elite neighborhood opposite the famed Montparnasse Cemetery and next to the apartment where Simone de Beauvoir lived. This hotel is both charming and comfortable and is one block from a pedestrian street featuring restaurants and shops. It is within walking distance of two different metro lines both with direct access to the main monuments of Paris.
  Contact info: 2, rue Boulard
Paris,  75014 France
phone: +33 1 56 80 34 34
  Room amenities: The rooms include satellite television, air conditioning, a mini-bar, and a safe.
  Facility amenities: The hotel includes a bar / lounge, laundry services, WiFi in the lobby.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: TBD Road Scholar can reserve additional nights at a special rate at this program hotel. Please contact Road Scholar at 1-800-241-1404 for our special rate and to make a reservation. Please call at least 45 days prior to your program departure to ensure availability of the Road Scholar special rate which includes taxes and breakfast.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program begins in the early evening with an orientation meeting at your hotel in Caen. You will be staying at Best Western Hotel Moderne that night.
  End of Program:
The program ends after breakfast at your hotel in Paris. You will be staying at Villa Montparnasse the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Buses, taxis, and trains are available.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Caen
  Nearest city or town:  Bayeux
  Nearest highway: A13 and A84. A13 is a toll-road while the A84 is a toll-free motorway.
  Nearest airport:  Caen-Carpiquet Airport
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Independent travelers who plan to make their own way to Caen can take the RER train to Gare du Nord and transfer to Gare St Lazare either by taxi or metro. There are several trains daily from the Gare St Lazare to Caen. Upon arrival in Caen, take a taxi to the hotel.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Paris
  Nearest city or town:  Gonesse
  Nearest highway: A1
  Nearest airport:  Charles de Gaulle Airport
  Transportation from site: A group departure transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and depart on the group date. Independent travelers can take a taxi from the hotel to the airport or can ask the hotel for assistance in arranging a shuttle transfer. Paris Shuttle, a third party service, offers discounted shared shuttle and private transfer rates to Road Scholar participants. The rate they offer is about 10% discount off their published rate. By using the web link below, you can take advantage of these rates and book your transfer for departure in Paris. You will need to pay in advance with a credit card to confirm reservations and print your own voucher.
Elevation Note: 500 feet is the highest elevation.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures from the U.S.
(Friday, April 3)
 Depart From: International flight to France.

Day 2: Group Arrival and Welcome
(Saturday, April 4)
 Arrive To: After your arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, transfer by coach to Normandy and the first program site, Caen.
 Lunch: Light lunch en route to Caen.
 Afternoon: Check-in at hotel and have time to freshen up and relax before meeting for a welcome orientation and program briefing. We will gather in our private meeting room where the Group Leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Best Western Hotel Moderne
Meals Included: Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Pegasus Bridge / British Sector / The Bayeux Tapestry
(Sunday, April 5)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Your WWII expert will lead you to Pegasus Bridge and then along the British and Canadian sector of the D-Day operation. Learn the importance and creation of the "Mulberry Harbours" and the stubborn German Battery at Longues sur Mer.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy an independent discovery of the legendary tapestry that is part of UNESCO's "Memory of the World" registry. Take some time to linger over each of the 58 scenes which depict in exquisite detail the Norman invasion of England.
 Dinner: On your own in Caen to explore local cuisine.
Accommodations: Best Western Hotel Moderne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Omaha Beach / The American Cemetery / Pointe du Hoc
(Monday, April 6)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will have a lecture titled, "The Landing at Omaha" on our coach ride to Omaha Beach. Your expert guide will lead you through the American landing on Omaha Beach. You will learn about the ferocity of this battle and look at the landing from a number of perspectives.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: We will start the afternoon with a wreath laying ceremony at the US Normandy American Military Cemetery, then continue on to Pointe du Hoc to learn about the Ranger Assault. We will finish the day with a tasting of the region's renowned apple brandy at the château d'Englesqueville, where the first U.S. monument to WWII soldiers was built.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Best Western Hotel Moderne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Utah Beach / Sainte Mère Eglise / The Battle of the Hedgecrows
(Tuesday, April 7)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will enjoy a lecture titled, "The Battle of the Hedgerows." We will travel to Saint-Lo to explore the hedgerows, which proved to be a very unique and difficult obstacle for American soldiers.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Your WWII expert will lead you in an on-site discussion of the operations in Sainte Mère Eglise and Utah Beach. Sainte Mère Eglise was at the center of the U.S. paratrooper landing and is known for the U.S. soldier whose parachute got stuck on the church's steeple, leaving him stranded overnight.
 Dinner: On your own.
Accommodations: Best Western Hotel Moderne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Normandy Country Cuisine / Mont Saint Michel
(Wednesday, April 8)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy a few hours of free time to explore Caen at your own pace before your mid-morning departure.
 Lunch: At a local farm/restaurant en route to Mont Saint Michel.
 Afternoon: Explore a place the locals call "le Mont" - better known as Mont Saint Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Perched on a small rocky island that is connected to the mainland at low tide, Mont Saint Michel is a Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel Michael.
 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Best Western Hotel Moderne
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Caen and Honfleur
(Thursday, April 9)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy some free time to explore Caen at your own pace before we board the coach for the Caen Memorial.
 Lunch: At the Caen Memorial.
 Afternoon: The Caen Memorial is a major museum dedicated to the history of the 20th century. This is a self-guided visit, and you may wander at your own pace through the different galleries focusing on WWII, the Cold War, and Peace. We will then board the coach for Honfleur to board the ship.
 Dinner: Welcome drink, orientation, dinner on board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Honfleur / Eugène Boudin Museum
(Friday, April 10)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Enjoy unique architecture during a tour of historic Honfleur. Learn why this city has one of the few remaining all wooden churches and the important role that this city had in the settlement of New France.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Either take some free time to explore on your own or go on a field trip to discover the Musée Eugène Boudin. Located in a 19th century chapel and two modern extensions, with views over Honfleur and the Seine, the Musée Eugène Boudin houses some 1,200 square meters of permanent exhibitions in nine rooms. Named after Honfleur's most famous painter, there are works on display by not only Boudin himself, but also other great impressionists such as: Dubourg, Monet, and Jongkind.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 9: Caudebec and the Abbey of Saint Wandrille
(Saturday, April 11)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: A field trip will take us a short distance from Duclair, where we will find Fontenelle Abbey, or the Abbey of St. Wandrille. Your local guide will take you through the monastery, founded in the first century by Wandregisel or Saint Wandrille. Although much of the abbey has been rebuilt, the chapel of Saint Saturnin remains standing on the hillside overlooking the abbey and is one of the oldest ecclesiastical structures still in existence. After exploring the abbey, you will have the option of attending mass with the Benedictine monks as they sing Gregorian chants.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Enjoy an on board lecture: "War and Discoveries" with your Study Leader, explore some of the new discoveries that emerged during World War II, such as penicillin, jet aircraft and nylon.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Historic Rouen
(Sunday, April 12)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning we explore Historic Rouen, its magnificent cathedral where Monet studied and painted the effects of changing light, and its famous half-timbered houses. Your expert guide will walk you through this unique city's history, also taking time to pause at the site of the burning of Joan of Arc. Later on those of you who wish can join your Study Leader for a guided exploration of the Musee des Beaux Arts in Rouen.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: There will be an onboard lecture titled, "Robert Capa." With your study leader, learn about the fascinating photographer who captured some of the most well-known images of the D-Day invasion and Liberation of Paris.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Giverny
(Monday, April 13)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Discover Monet's gardens at Giverny and view the stunning foliage that inspired the great artist.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: There will be an onboard lecture by your group leader titled, "Impressionism and Claude Monet in Giverny." With your study leader, explore 19th century painting, the Academy, and Monet as you sail along the Seine.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Paris: L'Île de la Cité
(Tuesday, April 14)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: We will be accompanied by an expert lecturer and Paris resident who will lead us to explore Medieval Paris and the Île de la Cité on a walking tour. The Île de la Cité is the heart of Paris and the location where the city was founded. It is dominated by the Gothic cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Take time to enjoy Paris at your own pace.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Seine Princess
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: The Louvre / The Liberation of Paris
(Wednesday, April 15)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: After disembarking we will enjoy a lecture titled, "The Occupation and Liberation of Paris." With your local expert guide, discover areas of Paris under German occupation and discuss the resistance and liberation. We will begin at the Hotel Meurice, once the German Headquarters, and end at the statue of Charles de Gaulle on the Champs Elysées.
 Lunch: On your own in Paris to explore some of the world-famous cuisine offered by the city's sidewalk cafes and renowned restaurants.
 Afternoon: Your group leader will take you to the Louvre, where you will have time to explore on your own. Investigate the wing or collection of masterpieces that most peaks your interest. Later in the afternoon, we will check-in at the hotel.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Villa Montparnasse
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 14: Departures
(Thursday, April 16)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 In Transit: Transfer to Charles de Gaulle Airport for return flights to the U.S. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

1066, The Year of the Conquest

Author: David Howarth

Description: A crack medievalist and storyteller, Howarth brings to life the momentous events of 1066 in rich, anecdotal history -- a classic portrait of the Norman invasion and conquest of England.

A Moveable Feast

Author: Ernest Hemingway

Description: A treasure for anyone interested in Parisian cafe society and its luminaries circa 1925. Hemingway includes sharp portraits of Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford and others who idled on their way to greatness.

A Traveller's History of France

Author: Robert Cole

Description: This fast-moving survey covers the conquests of ancient Gaul through the heady days of revolution to modern times.

Battle of Normandy 1944 Map

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A reproduction of a 1947 map of Normandy showing the main sites of the summer 1944 battle.

Between Meals, An Appetite for Paris

Author: A.J. Liebling

Description: Liebling captures with stylish prose his coming-of-age in Paris in this elegant memoir, which is also a tribute to French cuisine.

D-Day June 6, 1944, The Climactic Battle of World War II

Author: Stephen Ambrose

Description: Written by the best-selling historian Stephen Ambrose, this well researched book draws together interviews and government documents to tell the gripping tale of D-Day. This comprehensive account contains 32 pages of photos and eight maps.

Fodor's Paris' 25 Best

Author: Fodor's

Description: This shirt-pocket map and guide includes essential information on the city's history, highlights and sightseeing, ideal for a short visit to the City of Light.

Joan of Arc

Author: Mary Gordon

Description: In elegant, insightful prose, novelist Gordon meditates on the courageous and complex young girl and the iconic status she has acquired.

Lonely Planet French Phrasebook

Author: Marie-Helene Girard, Anny Monet

Description: This handy phrasebook focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.

Madame Bovary

Author: Lydia Davis (Translator), Gustave Flaubert

Description: The landmark novel of a woman who suffers in search of relief from her humdrum life in a provincial village outside Rouen.

Made in France, A Shopper's Guide

Author: Laura Morelli

Description: Both a fascinating history of France's artisanal legacy and an insider's shopping guide, the book includes illustrations, maps, a primer on French shopping culture and craft festivals.

Michelin Green Guide Normandy

Author: Michelin Travel Publications

Description: A thorough introduction to Normandy and the Channel islands in the classic Michelin style, featuring brief descriptions of all the major attractions. Organized alphabetically, we like it for its broad coverage, and especially for its excellent local maps.

Monet, the Ultimate Impressionist

Author: Sylvie Patin

Description: A colorful pocket-size reference to Monet's life, paintings and contemporaries, perfect for those visiting Giverny.

Mont Saint Michel and Chartres

Author: Henry Brooks Adams

Description: First published at the turn of the century, this classic work is a meditation on the Medieval world as reflected through its most famous religious structures.

Normandy Map 513

Author: Michelin

Description: A colorful, detailed map of Normandy at a scale of 1:200,000, featuring Rouen, Le Havre and the route of the Seine from west of Paris to the Atlantic.

Paris to the Moon

Author: Adam Gopnik

Description: Gopnik writes with candor and humor about Paris and Parisian ways in these charming reflections on adapting to life in glorious exile.

Six Armies in Normandy, From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris

Author: John Keegan

Description: A provocative account of the invasion of Normandy and the battles that proceeded it. Keegan's intense descriptions of the war in northern France are accompanied by perceptive analysis of the military tactics that resulted in Allied victory.

The Food of France

Author: Waverly Root

Description: An evocative and beautifully written survey of French food. First published in 1958 and revised in the mid-1970s, the book covers the important regions of French cuisine by dividing them into domains of Butter (northern France), Fat (Alsace) and Oil (the south).

The Road from the Past, Traveling through History in France

Author: Ina Caro

Description: Time travel through France by way of its finest castles, chateaux, cathedrals and monasteries. This unusual travelogue is an invaluable companion for traveling in Paris, southern France, the Dordogne and the Loire Valley, combining personal observation with large doses of well-presented history.

The Secret Life of the Seine

Author: Mort Rosenblum

Description: After losing his Paris apartment, Rosenblum, a born storyteller, takes to a houseboat moored on the Seine. The result is this entertaining tour of the places and people he encounters during his explorations along the river.

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