Welcome to Calvados
The Calvados département (www.calvados-tourisme.com) stretches from Honfleur in the east to Isigny-sur-Mer in the west and includes Caen, Bayeux and the D-Day beaches. The area is famed for its rich pastures and farm products, including butter, cheese, cider and an eponymous apple brandy
Top experiences in Calvados
Normandy Beaches Half-Day Trip from Bayeux
After pickup from Bayeux, your guide will take you to the three important World War II sites in Normandy. Your first stop is Pointe du Hoc, the German battery that was attacked by US Rangers on D-Day. Hear how the Rangers, commanded by Lt Col James Rudder, scaled the cliffs to get to the German gun position — a scene that was famously depicted in the war film Saving Private Ryan. With its huge fortifications blown to pieces, the site remains as it did when the US Rangers left it: like an eerie lunar landscape.Then drive along the coast to Omaha Beach, where soldiers of the Vierville 29th and Colleville 1st Divisions landed. By far the most difficult place to land on D-Day, Omaha Beach was the bloodiest of the five beaches and the operation almost failed, but the bravery of those young men turned this operation into a victory. You’ll make two stops along the 4-mile (6-km) beach, one on each end, to give you an appreciation of the sheer scale of the events that took place here. Overlooking the eastern end of Omaha Beach is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which you’ll visit next. This cemetery — the largest American cemetery in Europe — holds the bodies of 9,387 soldiers who fought to liberate Western Europe from the Germans. Pay tribute to the 307 unknown soldiers or visit the resting place of more famous figures such as General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. End with a tour of the Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center, where you’ll learn more about the scenes that took place on Omaha Beach in 1944. Through personal stories, narrative texts, photos, films, interactive displays and artifacts, you’ll grasp the bravery and sacrifice of the American soldiers who fought at the D-Day landings, culminating in the victory of the Allied forces. After this insightful and moving experience, your guide will drive you back to Bayeux to conclude your tour.
Normandy Battlefields Tour - American Sites
Begin your tour with a visit to the Sainte-Mère Church and Airborne Museum, the site of a massive airborne operation involving 15,000 U.S. paratroopers during World War II. Hear from your knowledgeable guide how the brave soldiers descended from the skies on the night before D-Day and learn the incredible story of Private John Steele, one of the paratroopers.Continue onward to Utah Beach, where soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division leapt from their landing crafts and headed inland under the orders of General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. The first day of battle saw relatively few casualties, but the same cannot be said for those that followed.Visit the German Cemetery, the largest in Normandy dedicated to German casualties of war and the place where over 21,000 fallen soldiers are laid to rest. Spend time at Pointe du Hoc, one of the very largest German coastal batteries. The guns located here rained shells down on Allied soldiers across Omaha and Utah beaches, and the job of silencing them fell to a certain Lt. Col. Rudder and the U.S. Rangers of the 2nd Battalion.Spend time on Omaha Beach, widely considered the most famous of the D-Day landing beaches. Gain an insight into the challenge faced by the Allied forces landing here under heavy German fire, and take time to consider their extraordinary courage.The last stop on your tour is the American Cemetery and Visitor Center, the final resting place of 9,387 U.S. soldiers. The cemetery overlooks Omaha Beach and honors soldiers of all ranks in equal measure. Spend time walking among the marked graves and consider this fitting tribute to those who never made it home after World War II.After nine hours discovering the Normandy battlefields, travel back to Bayeaux where your tour will come to an end.
D-Day Tour Including Guided Museum Visit and Lunch
Your tour begins at Caen railway station, making it especially easy to join if you're coming into the city by train from Paris (own expense). Follow your guide to the Mémorial de Caen, a museum covering major historical events from the end of World War I to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Your guide - trained by the museum's historians - will explain the intense preparations for D-Day by both sides, and the tremendous significance of the day in the outcome of World War II. Feel free to ask your guide any questions you may have about D-Day as you indulge in a 2-course lunch served with mineral water and a glass of wine at La Terrasse, a restaurant at the museum. In the afternoon, board a comfortable, air-conditioned minivan and embark on a 5-hour guided tour of some of the most important D-Day sites you learned about during your Mémorial de Caen museum tour. The sites you see are dependent on whether you wish to visit the key American D-Day sites, or if you'd prefer to focus on Canadian sites instead.If you've opted for the American tour, visit the artificial harbour at Arromanches, the American Military Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Omaha Beach and the Pointe du Hoc. Alternatively, select the Canadian tour to see Bernières-sur-Mer, the Juno Beach Centre, the Canadian Cemetery in Bény-sur-Mer and the Abbaye d’Ardenne Throughout your small-group tour, your guide will share stories that will humanize the stark statistics of World War II and D-Day. By the end of this powerful tour of historic sites, you'll understand just how much was at stake on D-Day and have a new appreciation for the men who fought and died in the war. Your tour ends at Caen railway station in the evening so you can easily catch a train back to Paris (own expense) if you wish.On Sundays from January 28 to March 31 and from October 1 to December 31 the guided visit of the Memorial de Caen museum will only last 30 minutes. This is because the first train from Paris arrives at 11am and the guided tour of the D-Day landing sites departs at 1pm.
Omaha Beach Half-Day Trip from Bayeux
You’ll be picked up from central Bayeux or your hotel and driven by comfortable 8-passenger minivan to three of Normandy's most important World War II sites. Throughout your 3-hour morning tour, your guide will tell stories about the events surrounding D-Day, the infamous day in 1944 when the Allies invaded German-occupied Normandy.First, visit the prominent cliff of Pointe du Hoc, one of the largest German coastal batteries. With their long-range guns and canons, they threatened the whole American sector all the way to the coast to Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. On D-Day, American forces landed on the small rocky beach, bravely scaled the sheer cliffs, and successfully located and destroyed the guns. It was quite a feat — many thought it would be impossible — and the total casualties were devastating. With its huge fortifications blown to pieces, the well-preserved site remains as it was when the US Rangers left it — like an eerie lunar landscape.Next, drive along the coast to Omaha Beach, the most famous of the five D-Day beaches, depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan. American soldiers had to jump out of their Landing Craft, wade their way out of the cold water, cross the beach and get up onto the bluff, all while being shot at. Due to the site's topography, this operation was D-Day's bloodiest and almost failed, but the bravery, courage and sacrifice of those young men turned it into a victory.Overlooking the bluff is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which you’ll visit next. The final resting place of 9,387 American service men whose graves are marked by beautiful white marble headstones, this site is a poignant tribute to those who fought so valiantly in one of the deadliest battles in history. You’ll see some of the better-known graves including the three Medal-of-Honor recipients and General Theodore Roosevelt Jr, as well as Ollie Reed father and son and the two Niland brothers, who served as inspiration for Saving Private Ryan.After your tour of the cemetery, hop back in the minivan and relax on the contemplative ride back to Bayeux.
Normandy Battlefields Tour - Canadian World War II Sites
You’ll be picked up from your hotel or a meeting point in Bayeux in the afternoon for your half-day tour of Normandy’s Canadian World War II sites. Travel 30 minutes to the coast to your first stop, the Juno Beach Centre, located just behind the sand dunes of Juno Beach.First opened in 2003 by a D-Day veteran, Garth Webb, the Juno Beach Centre is the only museum in Normandy dedicated to Canada’s role in WWII. On your visit here, learn about the role the Canadian Army played in the war and commemorate the contributions and sacrifices these soldiers made during the liberation of France and the rest of Europe. Surrounding the museum you’ll see German bunkers and beach obstacles, Canadian and Allied military equipment, and historic monuments and sculptures.Your next stop is the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, near where the Third Canadian Division landed. Beautifully situated on a hill overlooking the Atlantic coast, this cemetery is the final resting place of more than 2,000 Canadian, British and French soldiers, including the 359 Canadians killed on D-Day.Continue to Ardenne Abbey, a masterpiece of Norman architectural design dating from the 12th century. Your guide will explain the troublesome history of the abbey, starting with the early years of the German occupation when it was a focal point for the local French Resistance. It was then taken over by Colonel Kurt Meyer’s regiment of the 12th SS Hitler’s Youth division. In June 1944, 20 Canadian soldiers were illegally executed here. The abbey was liberated a month later as the Canadians reached the city of Caen, and in 1945 Meyer was tried by Canadian Military Court and found guilty of war crimes.After your time at Ardenne Abbey, relax and reflect on the drive back to Bayeux.Please note: Due to special events taking place to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, this tour may be amended on June 5, 6 and 7, 2014. It may not be possible to access the beaches, in which case alternative sites will be included instead.
Day Small-Group Tour of American D-Day Beaches
The tour departs Bayeux, and while driving between sites, the English-speaking guide will also share anecdotes, veteran stories, and much more.When you arrive at each location, the guide will show you around, explain in detail what happened, and then allow free time to take photos, etc.Principal sites visited on this tour:La Cambe German Cemetery - We start this tour with a short visit to the largest German cemetery in Normandy. We feel it is important to explain to our clients the Axis side of events before we start talking about what America was required to do to end the war in Europe.Angoville-Au-Plain - At this location, you will hear the incredible story of Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore: two American Airborne Medics. For two days, these two brave men offered care to American and German soldiers in a 1000 years old church.Utah Beach - The westernmost landing beach that U.S. forces assaulted. Hear how events unfolded and the role that Theodore Roosevelt played in achieving ultimate success against the German defenders.Lunch stop - Included in the price of this tour is lunch in our very own cafe. You will eat in a historic house that is full of artifacts from the Normandy invasion. Our special lunch stop is exclusive to clients booking tours with us. Lunch will consist of a large baguette sandwich with a choice of fillings. Hot and cold drinks, potato chips, and cakes are available. Lunch will be pre-ordered by the guide when boarding the vehicle.Sainte Mere Eglise - An objective for the 82nd Airborne in the early hours of D-Day. Hear the incredible story of paratrooper John Steele, who got caught on the church steeple during the drop.Pointe Du Hoc - Hear the amazing story of the American Rangers who had to scale nearly 100ft cliffs to silence a German long range gun battery position. You will be in awe when you see the battle damage and the German bunkers that remain at this impressive site.Omaha Beach - This turned out to be the most difficult landing beach attacked on D-Day. Hear the harrowing stories of sacrifice, see the German positions that were almost impossible to overcome, and hear stories of bravery that finally allowed the U.S. to prevail.Normandy American Cemetery and Visitor Center - This is a fitting end to the tour. You will be able to spend time in the Visitor Center and walk the magnificent 172 acres of the cemetery. You will be able to pay your respects to many of the people you will have heard about during the tour.You also pass by other sites of interest where the guide will share stories.