Historical World War II tour

Day 1  Overnight flight

Day 2  Paris

7 Ruijs Travel France - Paris - Eiffel Tower

Bienvenue en France! Arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Meet your driver and tour escort and transfer to the city centre. Get your cameras ready for a coach tour of the most photogenic city on earth. A local guide will show you the treasures of Paris, including views of the Eiffel Tower,  Notre Dame cathedral, the Opera Garnier, Arc the Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and the Place de la Concorde. After this first acquaintance with “the City of Lights”, check in at your hotel and have some time to relax before dinner.
Welcome dinner and overnight in Paris.

Day 3  Paris

Ruijs Travel France - Paris Hotel des Invalides 3

After breakfast you will visit the Hôtel National des Invalides which was once a Military Hospital. Nowadays the building, with its famous dome, is a museum, mainly dedicated to the French Army and houses the tombs of famous French Military such as Napoleon I and Marshall Turenne under the Dome. Visit the World War II section of the museum. Afterwards enjoy a guided walk through the characteristic neighbourhood Montmartre. A district full of authentic charm, famous for the Sacré-Cœur. This Basilica, consecrated in 1919, is one of the most iconic monuments in Paris. Standing at the top of Montmartre Hill, it has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the capital. A short walk from the Sacré-Cœur is Place du Tertre and the district of Abbesses with its steep, winding roads, and at the bottom of the hill, the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret. Conclude your day in Paris with a river cruise on the River Seine. Remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight in Paris.

Day 4 Paris – Giverny – Honfleur – Normandy  

Ruijs Travel -France - Honfleur 4

Today you will leave Paris and head to Normandy. On your way you will stop at Monet’s Gardens and House in Giverny. You will visit the house and gardens of the French impressionist and painter Claude Monet. Walking through the gardens, you will recognize many scene’s from Monet’s paintings, like the bridge festooned with wisteria, arching over the water and water lilies below. Travel onwards to the beautiful coastal village Honfleur, situated on the Seine estuary. The quay’s are flanked by colorful half-timbered houses, art galleries and restaurants. One more beautiful than the other. You will have some time to stroll around the Vieux Bassin, the heart of the port and to see the Saint Catherine’s church, France’s largest timber-built church. Continue your way to Normandy, where you will arrive in the late afternoon.
Overnight in the Normandy area.

Day 5  Normandy – World War II sites – Bayeux – Caen

Ruijs Travel - France - Normandy - Longues sur Mer battery 5

After breakfast, your specialized guide for the day will come to your hotel for a brief introduction. Your tour starts at the crucial Pegasus Bridge and its museum. Discover the story of the 6th Airborne Division on 6th June 1944 – D Day. See the original Pegasus Bridge, which is preserved on the grounds of the museum. You will pass the British Landing Beaches, Sword and Gold and will make a stop at Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer for a visit to the Juno Beach Centre and Beach Park. It provides recognition of Canada’s military and civilian contributions during Operation Overlord. After lunch you will travel to Arromanches. Where you will visit the Arromanches 360° Circular Cinema to watch the 360° film, telling the story of the Battle of Normandy. Your next stop will be at the guns at Longues-sur-Mer, the battery against which HMS Ajax & Agronout scored perhaps the luckiest and most accurate hits of the war. See the evidence that remains. Conclude your day with some free time in leisure in the charming town of Bayeux. Not to be missed here is the Old Town, the Bayeux Cathedral, a gem of Norman and Gothic architecture, the Bayeux Tapestry and the banks of the river Aure with old restored mills and wash houses. Overnight in the Normandy area.

Day 6  Normandy – World War II sites – Caen

Ruijs Travel France - Normandy - Sainte-Mere-Eglise 6

Another full day excursion to the World War II sites is on the program today. Start at Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer, where the Americans took the German fortifications after a stupendous fight. Losses were especially high in the first wave of landings. Study the battlefield; cross the beach, analyze maps and imagine the courage that was needed that day to save our freedom. The American Cemetery and Memorial is serene located on the hill above Omaha Beach and the sea. Pay your respects at the hundreds of crosses and stars of David for the deceased. After this moving visit, travel onwards to sheer cliffs of Point-du-Hoc. Here you will walk across the bomb-scarred terrain and see the World War II Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument at the top of the cliffs. Continue your way to Sainte-Mère-Église, considered to be the first town liberated in France on the 6th of June and also depicted in the film “The Longest Day”. Visit he Airborne Museum, which makes you experience and understand the D-Day landing, from the invasion preparations in England to the battles for liberation. The museum is located opposite of the church where John Steele famously was caught, hanging on the bell tower with his parachute. Return to Caen and remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight in the Normandy area.

Day 7  Caen – Rouen – Saint Quentin – Reims  

Ruijs Travel France - Rouen 7

This morning you will travel from Caen to Reims. Your first stop will be in Rouen, where your tour escort will take you on a short walking tour around the city. See the Rouen’s Gothic Cathedral, the cosy streets with half-timbered houses, the Gros Horloge an impressive public clock and the church of Sainte Joan of Arc, constructed next to the site where Joan of Arc was martyred for heresy. End the tour at the attractive and most beautiful square of the city, Place Saint-Amand. After lunch on your own in Rouen the journey to Reims continues. You will pass villages and cities known for their World War I history, like Amiens (Battle of Amiens) and Peronne and Saint-Quentin, both part of the Hindenburg Line. In Saint-Quentin you will see the War Memorial which commemorates the first and second World War. You will have some free time afterwards in Saint-Quentin. Arrival in Reims will be in the late afternoon.
Overnight in Reims.

Day 8  Reims

Ruijs Travel-France-Reims - Notre Dame Cathedral 8

Your day begins with a guide walking tour of Reims, the Capital of the Champagne Region. See the Notre Dame Cathedral, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Palais du Tau which houses the art collection of the Cathedral, the art deco Halles du Boulingrin, the indoor fresh market and many more. The guided tour ends at the large school complex which was the former Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) led by general Dwight Eisenhower. The building nowadays houses a museum; Musée de la Reddition or Surrender Museum, commemorates the American led signing of the German surrender in Western Europe which took place in Reims on May 7th, 1945. Remainder of the day at leisure in Reims.
Overnight in Reims.

Day 9  Reims – Battle of the Bulge sites Bastogne & Hamm – Luxembourg

Ruijs Travel - Belgium - Battle of the Bulge - Mardasson Memorial Bastogne

Today you will leave France for Belgium by travelling from Reims to the Ardennes and visit sites related to the Battle of the Bulge. In the autumn of 1944, six months after the invasion of Normandy, the Allied armies had advanced to the line from Luxembourg to Antwerp. At that moment Hitler decided on a last counter-offensive in the Ardennes. General Anthony McAuliffe and his paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division played a key role in this Ardennes offensive as they rallied in Bastogne and bravely held off fifteen German divisions for six days. You will visit the Bastogne Baracks, the former headquarters of General McAuliffe with a military expert guide. See the Shermann tank at the General McAuliffe Square and visit the Mardasson Memorial to the troops and the Bastogne War Museum as well. Afterwards travel to Luxembourg, before checking in at the hotel in the city of Luxembourg, you will visit the American Military Cemetery in Hamm including General George Patton’s grave. Overnight in Luxembourg.

Day 10 Luxembourg – Foy – La Roche-en-Ardenne – Lanzerath  – Malmedy

Ruijs Travel - Belgium - Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge 10

This morning you will travel to La Roche-en-Ardenne via the village of Foy, to visit Jack’s Wood, where American troops had taken refuge in Bois Jacques in Foy, to liberate Bastogne. On January 13, 1945, the Easy Company launched an attack on Foy and the village was recaptured. The Easy Company soldiers became famous for their role in the Battle of the Bulge, but they became immortal through Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers. In La Roche-en-Ardenne you will visit the Battle of the Bulge Museum, dedicated to the struggle for and liberation of La Roche and nearby villages on the left bank of the Ourthe during the Allied counter-offensive between 3 and 16 January 1945. Afterwards, travel north to the town of Lanzerath, were Lt. Lyle Bouck and his men saw the first German troops advancing on December 16, 1944. Bouck and a platoon of 19 men held out against a full German SS battalion for a full day. Visit the American positions and hear their breathtaking story of heroism. On December 17, 1944, the second day of the offensive, the Germans had several breakthroughs and many Americans surrendered near the town of Malmedy. Learn about the sad story of the Malmedy massacre and visit the Malmedy Massacre Memorial. Overnight in Malmedy-Francorchamps area. 

Day 11 Malmedy – Margraten – Groesbeek – Nijmegen – Arnhem  

Ruijs Travel - Netherlands - Paratroopers 75th commemoration Operation Market Garden 11

After breakfast we travel north to the Netherlands.  First stop will be at the Cemetery of Margraten where American victims of World War II, killed in the Netherlands, are buried. You will have the opportunity to pay respect and lay flowers on the graves. Upon arrival in Groesbeek enjoy lunch together and afterwards visit the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek. The museum is located in the place where Major-General James M.Gravin landed with the 82nd Airborne Division on September 17th 1944. An expert guide will show you the museum, including the secret closet for hiding and playing Radio Orange, the Human rights wall, the Bird’s eye-view model of Operation Market Garden and the Diorama of the Waal crossing. Afterwards you will pay a visit to the Canadian Military War cemetery where a wreath can be placed at the grave of the unknown soldier. Before heading to Arnhem, you will make a stop in Nijmegen where you will see the bridge over the Waal River. This bridge also known as the John Frost bridge, famous for the movie ‘A bridge too far’. Remainder of the day at leisure in Arnhem. Overnight in Arnhem area.

Day 12 Arnhem – Driel – Oosterbeek – Amsterdam  

Ruijs Travel - Waal Bridge Nijmegen 12

After breakfast, head for Driel, to see the Memorial to the Canadian and Royal Engineers.  The Memorial commemorates the evacuation of the survivors of the 1st British Airborne Division from Oosterbeek on September 25-26, 1944. Then onwards to Oosterbeek, renowned for ‘Operation market Garden’. You will visit  ‘Huize Hartenstein’, former headquarters of General Urquhart. ‘Huize Hartenstein’ nowadays houses the Airborne museum, devoted to the Operation market Garden. It contains memorabilia of the parachuting of the Airborne troops in the Oosterbeek area. General Urquhart’s headquarter has been reconstructed in the cellar. After lunch on your own you will travel to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. Upon arrival enjoy a guided walking tour.  You will see the city’s architecture and most important sights, such as the Dam Square with the impressive Royal Palace, the canals with the arched bridges, ‘Waterlooplein’ (Waterloo Square) with its famous market, the Rembrandt House and many more. Farewell dinner and overnight in Amsterdam.

Day 13 Departure

Ruijs Travel-Netherlands-Amsterdam 13

After breakfast departure to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for you flight back home.