I have recently, at the time of writing this in October 2023, returned from an organised week long tour in Normandy. I thought it would be useful to share details of this tour for my readers as it was an excellent experience.
With the Normandy coast visible from the Channel Islands and the ferry service to Cherbourg and Saint-Malo it is also reasonably accessible. It is also easy to get to Normandy from England on the ferry to Ouistreham.
Organised by Paul Woodage of WW2TV, if you haven’t subscribed to his YouTube channel you should, and Magali Desquesne her tour website is here. They are both very experienced guides with a wealth of knowledge. Magali is a full time tour guide and Paul divides his time between guiding and WW2TV which has become his main focus.
There are some photographs at the end of this page. These are just a few as I took over 1,200 during the week!
Rather than a tour that just takes you to places in a disjointed fashion they made the tour around themes and you follow the units and the battles as they develop all the way from the beaches far inland and across Normandy. You can find the full details of the tour itinerary here https://www.ddayhistorian.com/ww2tv-group-tour-new.html
This builds a complete picture of how the battle for Normandy took place. Not just in the initial days but throughout the campaign to liberate Normandy. They also covered all nationalities that were involved.
They also allow plenty of time at each location so that you can ask questions and take photographs. Rather than rushing you around and pointing out places without stopping you actually get to see them. We walked through a sunken lane in the bocage where as some tours would just show you a bit of bocage rather than stopping and letting you experience what it is like to move through it.
If like me, you have read a large number of books on the subject, a tour with them will really help you understand and see the the difficulties faced in those battles. Whilst one can read about the importance of a particular location you really cannot appreciate the challenges faced by both sides until you have been there. Many of these sites provide breathtaking views of the Normandy countryside.
They both have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the battles and the locations. This coupled with the fact that Mag was born in Normandy, her family were there during the war, means that they provided a great insight into both the military and civilian experiences.
By keeping their tour groups to around a maximum of twenty people they can use smaller vehicles, which means they can take you to places that are inaccessible to larger groups. They can also arrange bespoke tours of different durations and party sizes from a couple of people upwards.
All in all it was a fantastic week and a fantastic group from across the world. I am still trying to process all of the information that I garnered during the tour.
If you want to take a tour with Magali then take a look at her web page, link above. For the WW2TV tours keep an eye on WW2TV website and social media.
Thanks to Magali & Paul for a very special tour.