World War II History Tour in England and France
From London to Normandy and Paris, visit some of the Second World War's most poignant sites
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Privately guided tours focusing on the Second World War in London, Normandy and Paris
- Private transfers
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
The Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945 in Europe, a devastating period of history that reshaped the world, irrevocably changing or cutting short millions of lives, and whose aftereffects can still be seen and felt today.
On this often stirring trip, follow the conflict’s Western Front, from the early days of Battle of Britain and Blitz over London and southern England, to the arrival of American forces before the Normandy landings and liberation of Paris. With expert guides, visit some of the most poignant sites and hear the stories of challenges, loss and triumph.
Begin in London where you will learn how the civilian population coped under attack from the Luftwaffe, see the underground rooms where Winston Churchill’s government operated and visit the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral. You’ll also visit the incredible Imperial War Museum and American Air Museum at Duxford before heading south to Sussex. Here you’ll visit Chartwell, the country home of Britain’s most famous Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Close to Portsmouth, see the country house and map room where the D-Day landings were orchestrated by Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery before yourself sailing across the channel to Normandy. On your first day explore the US sectors of Omaha and Utah, as well as the legendary Point du Hoc, Sainte-Mère-Eglise and the moving American Cemetery. On the following day visit Gold and Juno beaches which were attacked by British, Canadian, Australian and other Allied troops.
Finally, advance into Paris to hear stories of how the beautiful capital fared under occupation, about the French Resistance and of liberation.
Example Trip Itinerary
Airside meet and greet at London Heathrow airport
Private transfer to your hotel in London
Accommodation in London
- 50 rooms and suites
- Restaurant and bar
- Swimming pool
London might be a city steeped in history but it’s certainly keeping pace with the best of them. The thoroughly British Haymarket Hotel is chic and modern whilst staying true to its roots, and there’s no compromise on location, either, as you find yourself in the heart of the capital’s theatre district. With bright splashes of colour, bold prints and plenty of quirky design features, the Haymarket is a beacon of contemporary British style. The 50 rooms and suites have been individually designed, each with their own unique character. The restaurant serves seasonal cuisine using locally sourced ingredients and the barmen are a dab hand at mixing elegant and refreshing cocktails. Make sure you indulge in the great British tradition of afternoon tea, a delightful mix of cakes, sandwiches, scones and of course, a pot of steaming loose-leaf tea. Head to the library when you want to retreat with a book or the morning papers. The hotel’s indoor pool is not just for the health conscious; a ceiling studded with hundreds of fibre optic lights and an ever-changing light installation adds a real sense of atmosphere and the poolside bar is your go-to for quenching your thirst. Exploring the capital couldn’t be easier: Mayfair and Regent Street are a mecca for shoppers; get your fix of culture at Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery; and take a stroll around St James’ Park, the oldest of the city’s eight Royal Parks.
- 262 rooms and 44 suites
With its beautiful architecture, fascinating history and cosmopolitan buzz, London really does tick all the boxes. Enjoy everything this wonderful city has to offer with a stay at The Rosewood London; located in an Edwardian Grade II listed building, its grand stonework and stunning facade indicative of what lies within. The hotel is located on High Holborn, one of the capital’s most historic thoroughfares. You’re ideally situated to explore the heart of the city with Covent Garden, the City and the West End on your doorstep. When you’re not out exploring, relax in one of the 262 rooms or 44 suites complete with bespoke furnishings, marble bathrooms and Nespresso coffee machines. The rich history of both the city and the hotel is reflected in its design which marries together a traditional manor house feel with modern British style. Guests enter the hotel through a impressive archway which leads to a grand Edwardian courtyard. The rose bronze gallery links the hotel’s public spaces and the spectacular Renaissance-style marble staircase winds its way through all seven storeys. Sit back and enjoy the innovative cuisine in the dining room with its reclaimed oak, antique mirrors and red leather banquettes. The mirror room is a dazzling delight and here you can indulge in the most British of traditions, afternoon tea. One room sure to get you talking is Scarfes Bar; here the walls are covered in the artwork of Gerald Scarfe, acclaimed British artist and political cartoonist for the Sunday Times for 44 years. The terrace, with seasonal planting and lush greenery, is a real oasis of calm and the heated benches mean you can sit and soak up the atmosphere no matter what the weather is doing. The streets of London are just begging to be explored and you have the National Gallery, Charles Dickens museum and the British Museum are just a stone’s throw away and the Tate Modern across the Thames. The glitz and glamour of the West End is calling so be sure to catch a show at one of the city’s many magical theatres.
- 268 rooms and suites
- Three restaurants
- Award-winning cocktail bar
- Afternoon tea
- Beauty and Fitness spa, pool and gym
Wonderfully located between the Strand and the northern banks of the River Thames, The Savoy has stood as a London landmark since its opening in 1889. 268 luxury rooms and suites celebrate two distinct historic styles – stately English Edwardian and Art Deco grandeur – each encapsulating a timeless London glamour. Many enjoy wonderful views across the river and to other monuments around the city. Those staying in suites have a dedicated butler service, and all guests have access to Beauty and Fitness, a private facility in which offers spa treatments, a private pool, and 24-hour gym. Fine dining is central to The Savoy’s history, indeed upon its opening it attracted an aristocratic crowd in full regalia, suppering in public for the first time. Today, Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill offers informal dining in a stylish Deco setting, whilst Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill presents a British menu with a French touch. Simpson’s-in-the-Strand celebrates the best of British and is famous for its roasts. The award-winning Beaufort Bar is renowned for pushing the boundaries of mixology and the Knight’s Bar is perfect for pre-theatre drinks. The beautiful Thames Foyer is where The Savoy serves one of London’s best Afternoon Teas.
- 203 rooms and suites
- Michelin-starred restaurant
- Two bars
- Foyer and Reading Room
- Spa and gym
When it comes to timeless British style, Claridge’s is hard to beat. Located in the heart of Mayfair, the seven-storey, terracotta-faced hotel is synonymous with style and has long been an institution in the capital. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were among the first few to walk through its doors, and it has been favoured by royalty and heads of state ever since. A redesign led by C.W Stephens, who was also responsible for Harrod’s, turned it into one of London’s most prestigious hotels, a reputation it has held for over a century. The hotel’s iconic art deco style is evident as soon as you step inside, with the Foyer’s black and white geometric floor tiles, gilded mirrors and Dale Chihuly chandelier. Each of the 203 rooms and suites have been individually designed and effortlessly blend comfort and style. The impressive Prince Alexander Suite even features a Broadwood grand piano and sheet music. Simon Rogan is the mastermind behind the hotel’s Michelin-starred Fera restaurant, where the focus is on creative British cuisine that follows the seasons. The team at Claridge’s have been perfecting the art of afternoon tea for 150 years; finger sandwiches, scones and delicate pastries are served alongside a selection of carefully selected loose-leaf teas on their signature green and white striped chinaware. The Fumoir Bar is an atmospheric hideaway where classic cocktails are reinvented, forgotten drinks are brought back to life and bold new creations are served in Lalique crystal glasses. Claridge’s is a stone’s throw from London’s most prestigious shopping districts and world-class galleries, theatres and museums, while the leafy expanses of Hyde Park and St James’ Park are perfect for strolling.
As the bombs on fell during the Second World War, a period known as the Blitz, a stoic community spirit with a dose of black humour unified the civilian population. Buildings burned and homes, lives, livelihoods and entire neighbourhoods were destroyed, but the population prevailed in the face of this new danger, a stiff upper lip attitude that became known as Blitz spirit. Learn about the blitz on an evocative walking tour around the city, and visit The Churchill War Rooms, a museum comprising of the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic underground complex that housed a British government command centre throughout the Second World War, and the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum exploring the life of the cigar-toting leader.
St Paul's Cathedral is famous for many reasons, not least as the setting for Princess Diana's wedding to Prince Charles. It is also an exceptional architectural achievement on the part of Sir Christopher Wren, who masterminded the rebuilding of London in the 17th century.
Visit the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, a former RAF and USAAF airfield that now houses a number of historic aircraft collections in its hangars, including the Lancaster, Spitfire, Concorde and Vulcan, and a B-17, B-29 and B-52 at the American Air Museum. The airfield is also the site for restoration work and many airworthy warbirds still fly from here and we can organise an unforgettable flight in vintage aircraft ranging from a de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane to a twin-seat Supermarine Spitfire.
Westminster Abbey stands next to the magnificent Houses of Parliament and is steeped in more than 1,000 years of history. It has been the setting for every coronation since 1066, as well as 16 royal weddings. It is one of Britain's most important religious buildings, and here you'll discover a panorama of British history. Please note that the abbey is a working institution and subject to last minute closures.
Buried deep under the government buildings of Whitehall are the historic Churchill War Rooms. This is the place from which Churchill strategized during World War II and it remains incredibly atmospheric today.
Dover Castle has been at the crossroads of British history for centuries, it has been described as the 'Key to England' due to its defensive significance throughout history. Perched on a hill above the town and famous white cliffs with views across the Channel to France, the story of Dover Castle is the story of Britain. Throughout the medieval period and into the 19th century, the castle has served as Britain’s first line of defence against invading armies from the Continent. It was in the Napoleonic era that the famous tunnels were first constructed to serve as barracks for English troops. In World War II, the tunnels were opened up again, and housed the command centre that controlled naval operations in the Channel Sea, playing a pivotal role in the evacuation from Dunkirk.
Accommodation in Sussex
- 17 rooms
Stroll through exquisitely tended gardens, allowing the scents and sounds of the countryside to welcome you to Gravetye Manor, a peaceful home away from home. Set on 35 acres of enchanting gardens in the Sussex countryside, this hotel is an idyllic rural escape. Named after trees found on the estate, the 17 richly furnished rooms are designed with classic aesthetics in mind. Luxurious fabrics and carefully chosen antiques pick up on the floral theme that runs through the gardens and into the hotel itself. The rooms offer views out over the gardens, meadows and lake. Take a seat in the wood-panelled restaurant for a relaxed meal, or enjoy a pleasant lunch out in the garden. The Michelin starred head chef uses the freshest homegrown produce from the estate to create his seasonal modern British menu. The Gravetye team are proud of their gardens and love to see guests enjoying and using them as they were intended. Sip a cup of tea surrounded by fragrant blooms, stroll along stone pathways and breathe in the scents, and spend some time exploring the wild garden. Let the natural beauty of the estate rejuvenate you.
Visit Chartwell, the country home of Britain’s most famous Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Chartwell was very much a family home and contains many personal objects which recount the history and lives of the Churchill family. The house was also a sanctuary for Sir Winston and today his studio contains the largest single collection of his paintings.
A garden lovers' home for all seasons, with an extensive yet intimate garden set around a romantic house and ruins. One of the National Trust's premier gardens, Nymans was a country retreat for the creative Messel family, and has views stretching out across the Sussex Weald.
Here you can recharge your batteries , while you explore this beautiful place, discovering hidden corners through stone archways, walking along tree-lined avenues while surrounded by lush green countryside. From vibrantly colourful summer borders, to the tranquillity of ancient woodland, Nymans is a place of experimentation with constantly evolving planting designs and a rare and unusual plant collection. The comfortable yet elegant house, a partial ruin, reflects the personalities and stories of the talented Messel family, from the Countess of Rosse to Oliver Messel and photographer Lord Snowdon.
There is a large shop and plant centre with our special collection of plants grown on site, a cafe offering a choice of seasonal food made by us, and a Grab & Go kiosk in the tea garden. Every day there are guided walks and talks in the garden and woods, a small gallery in the house with changing exhibitions for every season, a secondhand bookshop, shop tastings and mobility tours of the garden and woods.
For children there are plenty of opportunities for natural play, geocaching in the woods, pick up and go activities and seasonal trail.
Private transfer to your hotel in West Sussex
Accommodation in West Sussex
- 19 rooms
Set in the picturesque Sussex countryside, this grand building dates back over 900 years. The 19 luxury rooms are each individually designed and feature antiques and rich fabrics paying tribute to the castle’s history, as well as modern en-suite bathrooms. The stylish and comfortable rooms offer views out over the 17th century manor house, gardens, lakes or countryside. Settle into a room with access to the 14th century tower, opt to stay in the charming former 17th century dairy, or choose a room with access to the battlements, with views of the castle grounds. Sit down to an indulgent home-made afternoon tea with a selection of sweet and savory delicacies in the lounge or on the terrace, or, to experience the cuisine Amberley Castle has become known for, take a table in the opulent Queen’s Room or The Great Room. Vaulted ceilings, high lancet windows, tapestries and suits of armor add to the overall dining experience. There are over 12 acres of formal gardens to explore. Make the most of the Medieval stonework, rose-covered arches and ponds as you enjoy the colours and fragrances of the carefully maintained garden. Or spend your afternoon on the 18-hole putting course, tennis court or croquet lawn.
Portsmouth packs a historical punch with a story that goes back to the kings of France via the Mayflower and the D-Day Landings. Its literary connections encompass Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jane Austen and the last legally valid dual ever held in England took place in the city. Accompanied by your guide, visit the Spinnaker Tower for panoramic views over Portsmouth and the Solent and discover naval history at the world-class Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Until the dark days of the Second World War, Southwick House was an elegant private residence. In 1941 it was requisitioned and became the home of the Royal Navy School of Navigation. Two years later, the house was chosen as the command post for the planned D-Day Landings, spear-headed by General Eisenhower and General Montgomery. Today the building remains in use as the Defence College of Policing and Guarding but the Map Room where the planning for the invasion took place has been preserved, and the college is opened up to private visitors who wish to explore this unique and crucial part of history.
Private transfer to the ferry dock
Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen
Private transfer to your hotel in Bayeux
Accommodation in Normandy
- 27 rooms
- Bar, lounge and library
- Fitness room
The Villa Lara is a modern boutique hotel in the historic centre of Bayeux, set on a very quiet and square on the Aure River and facing the 11th century cathedral, the famous Bayeux Tapestry just two minutes away. There are 28 elegantly appointed rooms in a French style with all the furniture is made by historic and thoroughly Frenchfurniture designer house Moissonnier making for a slightly offbeat style. Downstairs you’ll find a breakfast area with a delicious daily buffet of with regional offerings. There is also bar-lounge area leading to the library lounge with a fireplace, and a fitness room.
An 8km (5 mile) stretch of sand overlooked by cliffs, Omaha was the bloodiest of all the five Allied landing sectors with around 2000 casualties with the United States Army attack was held on the beach by strong defenses for much of the day. You can see the informative Omaha Beach Memorial Museum with its collection of uniforms, weapons and vehicles.
Visit the small town of Sainte-Mère-Église where paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division landed on during the first hours of June 6. One of them, John Steele, was left dangling after he landed on the pinnacle of the church tower and his parachute got snagged. He was subsequently captured by the Germans but escaped to join the attack on the village, making one of the first places to be liberated in France. Also in town is the Musée Airborne is a French museum dedicated to the memory of American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions who parachuted into Normandy.
Pointe du Hoc was the site of a coastal battery within range of Utah and Omaha beaches, making its capture key to the success of the landings. It was attacked by the 2nd Ranger Battalion whose elite troops scaled the sheer cliff face before holding the promontory under sustained counterattack for two more days. The site has remained untouched ever since.
The poignant Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial overlooks the eastern end of Omaha Beach, holding the bodies of 9,387 soldiers who crossed the Atlantic to help liberate Western Europe.
Longues-sur-Mer was the location of a German battery atop a cliff with magnificent views toward both Gold and Omaha Beaches. Mostly undamaged by naval and aerial bombardment, today is the only remnant of the Atlantic Wall defences to keep its big guns in place.
Gold Beach, the middle of the five landing sectors, was the responsibility of the British Second Army who secured the beachhead and linked up with the Canadians to the east on Juno with around 1000 casualties. On the western end of the beach is the quaint port of Arromanches which was left remarkably undamaged by the fighting. It was used by the Allies as a location to construct prefabricated ‘Mulberry’ harbours from floating concrete caissons and roadways that were towed across the Channel, the remnants of which can be seen today. By June 12, more than 300,000 men, 54,000 vehicles, 104,000 tons of supplies had been landed here.
Few fail to be charmed by the beauty of Monet’s paintings and at his garden in Giverny, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped right into one of his watercolours. Every inch is planted with an incredible variety of plants and flowers, bursts of colour amongst the soft greens of the weeping willows and bamboo trees. The water garden is perhaps the most beautiful of all, lily pads scattered across the still pond, an elegant Japanese-style bridge arching from one side to the other. Two wooden boats bob on the surface and are used by the gardeners to tend to the water lilies that provided so much inspiration to Monet during his lifetime.
Accommodation in Paris
- 48 rooms and suites
- Private garden
- Guerlain spa
A former private residence, Relais Christine is a charming boutique hotel nestled in Paris’ Left Bank in Saint-Germain des-Prés. With just 48 rooms and suites, the hotel has a wonderfully intimate feel. Antique furnishings, rich fabrics and exquisite marble bathrooms give rooms an undeniably French feel, and some come with balconies from which to admire this corner of the capital. The cosy lounge with fireplace is the perfect place to relax with a morning coffee and the papers, or a glass of wine before you set off to discover the Latin Quarter which lies right on your doorstep. A paved courtyard sits between the front and back buildings and leads to the entrance. A beautiful garden, accessible to only a few hotel guests, is a real oasis of calm where greenery is laced across the walls and flowers tumble from the balconies above. There is also a Guerlain spa with Jacuzzi, sauna, exercise room and private treatment rooms where you can relax and unwind.
- Ten apartments with one to four bedrooms
- Private chef available
A selection of ten luxury apartments on the Place du Trocadéro in the glamorous 16th arrondissement of Paris, with just the Jardins du Trocadéro and the Seine between you and the Eiffel Tower. The apartments range from 140 square metres (1507 square feet) to 300 square metres (3230 square feet), with one to four bedrooms, all in a grand, quintessential Parisian Haussmann-style building. This is in magnificent contrast to the interior of the apartments, which are all spacious, understated and graced with designer decoration by the talented Rémi Tessier to make you feel at home from the moment you enter. To ensure you settle in, all the apartments offer services such as a concierge ready and willing to tend to your every need, valet parking and a housekeeper who will prepare breakfast. A professional chef can handle all your meals and there are a range in-home personal care services to soothe and pamper on request such as massages, hair-styling, manicures, pedicures, and much more.
A city trapped in the 19th century, dazzling visitors to this day with its charming cityscape. Paris is seductive, stunning whatever the weather, but above all, timeless. There is plenty to do and see in Paris, but it is a city that captivates its guests with the little things; strolling the cobbled avenues, people-watching in the finest French cafés, savouring fresh-baked pastries from your local boulangerie. Paris oozes chic, with trendy boutiques and haute-couture labels dotted all over every arrondissement. Paris is also home to the most visited art museum in the world, The Louvre, and boasts many other fascinating museums, with dynamic and developing exhibitions.
Together with your private guide, you will delve into the past as you embark on a historical journey through the key moments of the German occupation in Paris. This captivating historical tour will cast a light on the defining moments of Paris during the war, from occupation in 1940 to liberation in 1944. In the Marais district, your guide will share somber stories of the Nazi invasion, and in the Ile de la Cité and Notre-Dame see hidden artillery impacts on the walls. Your guide will tell you all about local life during this time, including hopeful and courageous stories of those who risked their lives to protect the persecuted. You will learn about the efforts of the underground French Resistance movement that would light the spark of insurrection and help liberate Paris from its oppressors.
Private transfer to Charles de Gaulle airport
Get in Touch
World War II History Tour in England and France
How We Work
We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.