My husband and I started looking months ago for a guide to the D Day beaches and we happened upon Chris Emery, a retired British Royal Forces Commando, at www.visitdday.com. Chris picked us up at our Bayeux hotel yesterday promptly at 9:00 - I figured that since my husband is also a Vet that the two of them would hit it off immediately (and they did), but what I didn't realize was how enthralled I'd be by his knowledge of not only what happened that day, but the events preceding the battles and the fallout afterwards. We started at Omaha Beach, then had a tour of the American Cemetery, where we spent a good hour with him pointing out graves, heard the story of the four paratroopers at St Marie Eglise, visited the monuments and studied the map of the strategy of the Allied Forces. We then sat on the bluffs and had a picnic that his wife had made for us. We moved on to Pointe du Hoc - I was speechless, but not as speechless as I was when he drove us to the "country church" of Angoville-Au-Plain and explained the courageous act of two American Pvts who stayed behind with the wounded - it was not only their countrymen they saved. We went on to Utah Beach and ended at St Marie Eglise. It was an exhausting day, but so special for us to be with someone who not only knew the historical facts, but as a former combat officer could give an insight as to how these men really felt going into battle. It was a wonderful experience. I would highly recommend Chris as your D Day guide. Liz
I have to echo the sentiments of Liz above. I was on my first trip to France, traveling from Paris to Normandy and then the Loire Valley for 10 days. By far, the most remarkable part of the journey was the day we spent with Chris. He picked us up at our hotel in Bayeaux and 9am and the stories began to unfold immediately. We learned of his own experiences as a British Commando, and a bit of his wife as well...they are both decorated officers. Besides having a military mind, Chris has in-depth knowledge of WWII. We stood in awe in the raw drizzle on Omaha Beach learning of the German's techniques of battle, and the heroic efforts of young American soldiers helping our forces break through the beachfront. As timing would have it, an acquaintance of Chris' was there in his WWII Willy Jeep and gave my friends and I a ride down Omaha Beach. We traveled to the American Cemetery and learned of Theodore Roosevelt, Jimmy Steele and so many others buried there. Chris brought them back to life through his storytelling. On Utah Beach we wandered the pockmarked landscape that had been bombed with over 1000 mortars. We wandered inside the bunkers were the Germans spent days firing on the Allied Forces. We stood at the peak of towering cliffs that 225 Rangers had to scale within 30 minutes as they came ashore. 90 were lost here. in Pointe du Hoc, St. Marie Eglise and other stops the stories continued. Stories of sad defeats, and acts of extreme heroism. We visited sites that we never would have seen had it not been for Chris' knowledge of the history of this region. I have told these stories repeatedly to my family and friends and will remember the experience forever. If you plan to visit Normandy, you must look up Chris at navyandco.com .You will not be disappointed!
Four of us just returned from a trip to France and the highlight of our trip was the D-Day Tour with Chris at Navy and Co. Tours. We spent the day visiting Omaha Beach, Utah Beach and small towns in between. Plan on spending the entire day for this tour....it is well worth it.
Chris is extremely knowledgeable on the history of the area. He will show you things that you would not experience on your own, or even with another guide. Interesting facts about wartime life in the area...stories about towns people who experienced the war and brave soldiers who fought to liberate France from Nazi Germany. All four of us were fascinated with the small details Chris knew about life during war time. He showed us bullet holes in a local Church. At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, Chris knew right where some of the most memorable soldier's final resting places were and what their role was during the war.
We had talked to Chris in advance of the trip and told him that my Dad had landed on Utah Beach during the war. He took the time to research my Dad's Division and helped give me more information about the experience my Dad must have had landing his half-track on the beach that day. I very much appreciated his extra effort to make my tour special as I stood on the exact spot where my Dad had landed 71 years ago.
Be sure to wear good walking shoes and jackets for the coastline visit. Lots of walking involved, but not too strenuous. Cameras are a must. Be prepared for rain if the weather predicts so bring along both your umbrella and sunglasses. Sign up for the day long tour and be sure to order the box lunch that Chris' wife makes... excellent lunch with dessert treats!
They also have a beautiful old home in Houesville that is also a Bed and Breakfast. Large bedroom with separate living room and large private bath that sleeps two. Wish we had stayed there...but will next time!
I would highly recommend Normandy44 Tours with Magali & Olivier Coulon: http://www.normandy44-tours.com/
My husband and I shared a minivan tour of the American beaches with 6 other tourists. Olivier was our guide, and we couldn't have asked for a more informative, attentive, and personable guide. He came prepared with visuals (maps, photos, etc.) and an extensive knowledge of the major events of the Normandy Invasion as well as a multitude of details and stories. Olivier is a natural teacher, interacting with and including each person in the group during his presentations. He is humorous and caring. Each stop we made, Olivier gave us information and then gave us time to look around and ponder the events that took place 71 years ago.
In my email correspondence with Olivier's wife, before our trip to Normandy, I mentioned that my uncle, a paratrooper in the 101 Airborne Division took part in Operation Overlord. Olivier took it upon himself to research where my uncle's group was dropped in the early hours of June 6 and what their assignment was. He included a great deal more information and some sites that we had not anticipated. Olivier far exceeded our expectations as a guide!
I never expected such personal attention on a group tour. Olivier was able to bring the events of June 6, 1944 alive for us. It was the highlight of our trip to France. Contact Magali and Olivier at email@example.com