Small group tour-October 8

Hello, back from this trip. Claudia and Kim have done some nice summaries and I will try not to repeat what they already mentioned. Regarding travel documentation etc. After some angst about it, we did the get the French Health pass and used their app throughout. I did not see any issues from any of our fellow travelers with using the CDC card. Every restaurant, museum, etc that we went into throughout the trip asked for proof of vaccination. Our TD did pre-clear us in the hotels and certain other stops. It sounds like Macron and France is headed towards requiring the "pass" through July, 2022, but I believe that is a work in process. Our TD arranged for a nurse to come to the hotel to do our COVID testing in Paris prior to our flights home. Tauck paid for the nurse to come to the hotel and we went out for a few minutes during breakfast. Our cost was 40 euros cash. Everyone was clear and we scanned the negative test QR code to the French APP.

We feel like we are particularly jet lagged after this trip and I chalk it up to being "out of practice". It felt wonderful to travel again, and the French could not have been more welcoming even with our limited French language skills. We have to evaluate whether we want to do another land tour with so many stops. We just felt that packing and unpacking every two days took away from the enjoyment of the second evening in the towns especially with early starts the next day. Having four nights in Paris at the end was a treat.

We were on the last small group tour of the season. We had 15 people on our tour (it had showed sold-out up to two months before) but there were cancellations. We had six couples and three singles. We had a full size bus and Tauck did give out assigned rotating seats. There obviously was lots of room to spread out. Masks were required on the bus and all indoor places. There were two from our group that regularly "forgot" their masks on the bus, but "found" them when the TD gently reminded everyone of the French rules. We also had assigned seating for our group meals until the very end. We were assigned a time and table for these meals and were able to order from an a la carte menu and two glasses of wine, beer, or soft drinks were included. All of our breakfasts were buffet except for the Le Meurice in Paris which as a la carte from a menu. Overall it was a collegial group and everyone was very happy to be back "on the road".

We were very lucky with the weather. Apparently two weeks prior to our trip it was pouring rain for many days. Even locals that we spoke to talked abut all of the rain. The temperatures ranged from mid 60's to low 70's daytime and 10 degrees cooler in the evening. Overall, I would say our hotels were very good to excellent. The "love boat" hotel Miramar La Cigale Hotel, had nice rooms, facilities and food. An issue here was that the hotel had switched off their air conditioning for the season. The two days we were there it was very warm and some of the rooms that were facing the sun were in the low 90 degrees. They did move some of our guests to rooms on the other side of the building, but we had to keep the balcony door open in the evening to get some relief. They said it would take two days to restart the A/C and by then it would cool down and we would be gone. Our least favorite of the hotels was the Chateau de Rochecotte. It was fine and some found it quaint and very enjoyable. Just our personal taste. Claudia had said they stayed in Dinard rather than Deauville. We stayed at the Normandy Barrier Deauville. We thought this was a very nice hotel with seaside rooms, but we were in the hotel such a short period of time, we didn't get a chance to enjoy the amenities. We understand they might not use this hotel for classic tours as they can no long accommodate the larger Tauck groups. The Le Meurice in Paris is currently used for the small group tours. We used our "Gift of Time" for this hotel. In our opinion this is a true five star hotel, the location excellent and the service was impeccable.

Our TD was very good. She was very knowledgeable, informative and helpful. She lives in France and was able to embellish the tour information with what it is like to live near Paris. Our local guides were very good to excellent, with our guide in Paris at the Louvre and Orsay one of the best we have ever had anywhere. The Louvre after hours private Tauck tour was a highlight of the trip. Imagine seeing the "highlights" such as the Mona Lisa with only a handful of other people. The guide for D-Day, a retired major general from Britain was also excellent and extremely knowledgeable. as an aside, on the flight home, we watched the movie "The Girl who wore Freedom". We thought this documentary was very good, but seeing some of the places on the film that we had just visited was special.

I am pleased to answer any questions for others taking this tour in the future. We covered a lot of ground and it is unlikely that we would have been to some of these places on our own and especially on one itinerary. We thought that Tauck did a very good job, we are very glad we went and look forward to our future trips with them.


  • Taxare, glad you had a great tour. Welcome back.

    One correction, the Dinard stay was an alternative to St Malo. In Deauville we stayed at the Normandy Barrier. The Dinard hotel was also a Barrier brand hotel. We liked it better than the Deauville one.

  • Thank you Claudia for this correction and all of the information you provided from your tour!

  • Thanks for the additional info! All of you that are reporting back to the forum are helping those of us who will be going next year. It sounds as if you had a great time. Thanks again!

  • Between Claudia and Taxare, there is a lot of information that will help those of us traveling on this trip. Thanks.

  • Taxare, how long did actually spend at the D-Day sites? Did you actually get to walk the beaches (which ones), and German bunkers, American Memorial and Cemetery?

  • ndvb--I did this tour in August 2019 and felt that we were rushed through all of the D-Day sites. Remember that you really only have 2 days there so you can't take it all in unless you're kind of speeding through it. We were at the cemetery for not more than an hour which was way too short for me. And the actual beach, maybe about the same amount of time. We spent more time at the two indoor museum and then did a bit of driving around to take a quick look at the bunkers and one or two other sites. While I loved this tour, in my opinion, a third day is required up in the Normandy area.

  • ndvb, here is the schedule our group followed:

    On day 8 we arrived at the Caen Memorial/Peace Museum about 1pm for lunch followed by time for a self guided tour. Left about 4pm. Lots to see at the museum though the english translation on the exhibits was tiny. Wish I'd brought a magnifying glass.

    On day 9, we left the hotel at 8am (which was an early start for this tour) to go to the D-Day Academy where we met our guide Dr Jean-Pierre Benamou who spoke for a short while then you had time to walk around examining the many bits of equipment and artifacts from the war. From there we went to Pont du Hoc for a guided walking tour - there for about an hour. Our group also made an unsked stop at some gun emplacements (about 20 minutes). Then we went to the Omaha Beach Golf Club for lunch. After that we headed to Omaha beach itself. We were there for about 45 minutes and the guide led the group down to the beach. From there we went to the cemetery and spent about an hour. Arrival back at the hotel about 7pm. A very long day.

    Our guide for day 9 was very knowledgeable -- especially about how the locals were impacted by the Germans and the invasion. On the other hand, he like many guides, suffered from the belief that you couldn't enjoy a site unless you spent the bulk of the time standing around listening to him. I broke away a couple of times for time on my own or just to go to the toilet.

  • Claudia Sails
    On the other hand, he like many guides, suffered from the belief that you couldn't enjoy a site unless you
    spent the bulk of the time standing around listening to him. I broke away a couple of times for time on my own or just
    to go to the toilet.

    It's that rebel attitude that could get you on Santa's naughty list! :D

  • We're paying them not enslaved. B)

  • I'm with Claudia....there are just some things I need to see on my own.

  • If they didn't want us to wander around they wouldn't give us Whisperers, correct!! Here's a photo that I took at Petra of our group listening to the local guide after I had wandered off. :D I know, I guess I'm on that naughty list as well.

  • I have a shot like that taken in Italy only the group got so far ahead I could no longer see them! :o I decided to catch up when the whisper audio started breaking up! :o

  • Our day was very similar to what Claudia described. There was about 15 minutes to walk on Omaha Beach after the guide described the strategy and D-Day landings on Omaha Beach. The time at the American Cemetery was about an hour. We thought our guide was excellent. We would have appreciated at least an additional half day at the D-Day sites. However, some of our fellow travelers had been there before and my wife for example had not. We often look at tours like this as a sampler hoping to get back to some of our favorite places in the future. However, as we get older we still have so many places we want to go, I’m not sure we will be able to get back to them all. Despite some recommended improvements or changes we enjoyed this tour very much with no regrets.

  • Taxare, you are right. These tours are a "tasting" not a "meal." Like I said before I've been there before and spent a few days wandering and being guided around these sites. I have hundreds of pictures already. I'm not criticizing anything. I'm just asking what kind of tour I can expect since my previous experience was on my own or with a guide I hired specifically for this area. Claudia and you have given me that information. I appreciate it. I probably will be on the bad list and wander away from the group, as well. I've read much of the strategic military information and know much of the written and oral history of the period. I'm hoping the guide can impart the information he/she wants to give us as we move around the area, though. I feel tours should involve mostly kinesthetic learning when you are at the area being discovered. I can use my oral and visual learning styles from home. Tauck guides seem to agree with that most of the time. ;)

  • Just don't wander too far without telling someone. Another guest and I had had enough at Pont do Hoc and started going ahead. Ended up at the car park and toilets We thought some on our group knew but turns out they had lost track and the TD was worried.

  • OK Mom!!! o:)

  • In Russia, we "lost" one person and all the rest of us sat on the bus for a better part of an hour, fouling up the schedule.

  • Sorry Claudia. I was just teasing you, but I fear I have opened the door for 15 stories about losing people.

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