France Itinerary: Experience the Liberation Route

Experience the Liberation Route in France for yourself with Rough Guides tailor-made trips. The itinerary below has been prepared to give you an idea of what we could arrange, but each trip is completely built around you. So if there is a particular location that you wish to visit or that is important to you or your family, let your Local Expert know and we'll do our best to incorporate it.

Day 1: Bayeux

Upon arrival at Bayeux train station, you'll meet up with your driver for a private transfer to the hotel, where you'll be staying for the next two nights. Once you're rested up, your guide will meet you at your hotel in the afternoon and take you on a tour to Caen Memorial, a great introduction into the history of the Liberation Route in France and beyond. The Memorial was built in 1998 and takes you on a journey through time, from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand to the Cold War, commemorating the Second World War, with permanent exhibits on The Landing and the Battle of Normandy. You will be dropped back at your hotel in the evening. Overnight in Bayeux.

Day 2: U.S. beaches and D-Day sites

After breakfast at your hotel, you will spend the day learning about the US experience in Normandy during the Second World War. Firstly, you'll head to Utah and Omaha Landing beaches, the two most western beaches that were invaded by US troops on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. After this, it's time to visit the Normandy American Cemetery, a stark reminder of the US troops lives that were lost. You'll also walk along the Pointe du Hoc and learn how US rangers scaled this 100m cliff overlooking the English Channel, and explore the village of Saint-Mare-Eglise, one of the first places to be liberated by parachuting troops. Overnight in Bayeux.

Utah landing beach tank and memorial © marcin jucha / Shutterstock

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Day 3: British D-Day sites / Paris

Enjoy breakfast and then head out to discover the history of the British troops during D-Day. Visit another of the five main landing beaches, Sword Beach, as well as Hillman Fortress, a bunker complex and command post of the German defences along the Côte de Nacre coast during the Second World War. You'll also see Pegasus Bridge, one of the key river crossings secured in the early hours of D-Day to reduce enemy defences. Afterwards, you'll be dropped off at Bayeux train station for your onwards journey to Paris, where you'll stay for the next two nights. Overnight in Paris.

Day 4: Paris

Today is a full day in Paris on a private tour being taken around some of the main sites related to the Liberation Route. You'll visit the Musée de l'Armée and the Charles de Gaulle Memorial, as well as the Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération (Museum of the Order of the Liberation), which documents the history of the Free French Forces, the government-in-exile led by General Charles de Gaulle during World War II. In the evening, you'll be dropped off at your hotel. Overnight in Paris.

Army Museum, Paris © Andrii Lutsyk / Shutterstock

Day 5: Paris / Strasbourg

Spend the morning exploring the Champs-Élysées avenue before being transported to the train station to head to your next destination: Strasbourg. This picturesque city in the Alsace region of France was annexed by Germany in World War II and has many historical connections which complement the journey and discoveries so far. Spend the rest of your day at leisure before a full day exploring the history on Day Six. Overnight in Strasbourg.

Day 6: Strasbourg

You'll be picked up at your hotel in Strasbourg for your first stop, an emotional but significant guided tour of the Natzweiler-Struthof Concentration Camp, located in the Vosges Mountains - it was the only Nazi-established concentration camp on French territory, holding 52,000 prisoners and scene of an estimated 22,000 deaths.

Next, you'll visit the Alsace-Moselle Memorial, a museum dedicated to the history of the Alsace and Moselle regions, with a particular focus on World War II. In the afternoon/early evening, you'll be dropped off at your hotel in Strasbourg. Overnight in Strasbourg.

Memorial at the Struthof Concentration Camp near Strasbourg © Gherzak / Shutterstock

Day 7: Colmar / Return home

Your morning includes a private tour to Colmar, a town with cobblestone streets lined with medieval and early-Renaissance buildings and surrounding vineyards specialising in Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines. Your guide will take you to the Memorial Museum of the Battle of Colmar Pocket, which shows the history and impact of the horrific series of battles that took place in this area of Alsace from November 1944 to February 1945 before its liberation.

After this, you will be dropped off at Strasbourg train station for your return journey home.

Important Details

Prices start from €2,930 per person sharing a double room. This includes accommodation (hotels), in-country transportation (excluding the return journey to Paris from Strasbourg on Day Seven), some meals, entrance fees to the sites, and English-speaking guides. International flights, travel insurance, personal expenses, and any local taxes are not included.

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Top image: Utah beach, one of the D-Day landing beaches © Massimo Santi / Shutterstock

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written by Kirsten Powley
updated 6/10/2019
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