World War I: America in France
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Date/Time
Date(s) - 01/07/2018 - 07/07/2018
All Day

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World War I History Tour: An American Journey through "The Great War"

JULY 1-7, 2018

It has been 100 years since the guns fell silent and World War I ended. Still, the events of that era continue to shape and affect our world today. Four major monarchies and empires collapsed in history’s greatest shift in European and world power. The United States and the Soviet Union became major global players out of the ashes. The new map of the world created from the war continues to have significant impact on current events.

The war had been underway for nearly three years when the United States entered WWI on the Allied side in April 1917. However, it would be another year until the American forces finally made their impact on the battlefield. And it was a decisive impact that demonstrated the unflinching resolve of freedom-loving peoples and brought an end to the bloodiest conflict in human history to that point. If your mind is set on a belief that World War I was nothing but static trench warfare and no movement, you will be surprised to encounter the American fighting forces involved in one great maneuver offensive after another. We now, at the centennial, have the incredible opportunity to follow in the footsteps of these young Americans in the Great War tour. In fact, in some of the locations we will be waking, we will be there on the exact dates of July 1918!

This America in World War I history tour will bring guests to the verdant fields; and villages, towns and cities where the youth of America made their most indelible mark. From the Big Red One in the first fight at Cantigny, to the Marines at Belleau Wood; from American infantrymen assaulting the lines at St Quentin Canal and the St Mihiel Salient, to the largest battle in American history in the Meuse-Argonne. From the story of the Lost Battalion, to Sergeant York’s exploits, to the four Roosevelt brothers, and so many other iconic stories and sites. We will also pay respect to our allies by visiting the British battle at the Somme and the French at Verdun.

The World War I history tour unfolds over seven days with stories of all the allied participants as well as those of the German defenders. In addition, Essential History Expeditions guests will visit amazing heritage sites in the regions where the Americans fought, including:

  • Epernay: the justly-famed Champagne district where we will visit the “capital” of Epernay and its vineyards, gastropubs and more.
  • Compiegne: where the Germans surrendered in WWI and the French initially surrendered in WWII. It is also an amazing small city of rich history including the capture of Joan of Arc, and where Louis XIV and the two Napoleons had chateaux and palaces.
  • Reims: the city of Kings! In its great Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims nearly every French monarch was crowned over the long centuries. We will also visit Eisenhower’s final WWII headquarters, including the map room where the Germans surrendered to the Western Allies on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day!).

The rich farmland, the quaint villages and the dramatic hills and forests of France create an incredibly memorable backdrop for this World War I centennial history tour.

WWI France tours
WWI France tours

WHY TOUR WITH ESSENTIAL HISTORY EXPEDITIONS

What sets Essential History Expeditions and Dr. Brian DeToy apart is his unique experience with 14 years as a university professor including teaching history and strategic studies at West Point, 28 years as a US Army officer with combat experience, and 23 years of leading battlefield tours. Brian has led tours comprising military leaders, West Point professors and cadets, and business leaders of national companies. Brian’s combined experience as a scholar soldier brings the events on this hallowed ground to life.

Brian has led more than 200 tours on numerous battlefields worldwide, including those of the Great War. His grandfather, Bill, served as an infantryman with Douglas MacArthur’s 42d “Rainbow” Division in the 1918 battles and, so, this trip holds a special affinity for Brian.

Brian DeToy WWI France Tour

ACTIVITIES & HIGHLIGHTS

Reims WWI history tour
Aisne Marne Cemetery WWI France tour
Reims WWI tours
Reims Cathedral Angel
WWI France Tour Meuse Argonne
Meuse Argonne WWI France Tour

Day 1

  • Meet at Paris hotel at 1pm and depart for a walking tour of Paris, including the famed and newly renovated Les Halles markets and Saint-Eustache church, and drinks at the Hemingway Bar in the Ritz
  • Welcome and overview of the America in the Great War tour
  • Dinner
  • Hotel night in Paris

Day 2

  • Breakfast and depart Paris
  • Cantigny – site of the American’s first battle, May 1918, the 1st Infantry Division “Big Red One”
  • In Belleau Wood (June 1918) – we will see the 2nd Infantry Division and its attached Marines counterattack into the thick forest where the Germans have approached near the Marne. To this day it remains sacred ground for the “Devil Dog” Marines
  • American Aisne-Marne and German Cemeteries at Belleau Wood
  • Chateau-Thierry (May-June 1918) – The 3rd Infantry Division (the “Rock of the Marne”) stops the German attack and the tide of the battle shifts to the allies. This is a major turning point.
  • Continue along the Marne River to Epernay for a delightful Champagne tasting and tour of the vineyards and cellars at the world-famous Moet & Chandon vineyard
  • Dinner in Epernay
  • Check-in to hotel in Champagne region, a charming boutique hotel in Reims where we will stay for the duration of the World War I history tour

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Verdun – site of the epic French defense and victory in 1916; this battle shapes the remainder of the war through its intense fighting and the incredible casualties sustained by both French and Germans.
  • St Mihiel Salient (September 1918) – Before the major offensive can be conducted by General Pershing’s Americans in the Argonne Forest, he first has to eliminate a bulge in the allied lines. The attack succeeds when the Americans break into the salient led by Colonel George Patton’s tanks.
  • St Mihiel American Cemetery
  • Social Hour
  • Dinner at local renowned restaurant

Day 4

  • Breakfast
  • Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne offensives (July-September 1918) – the Americans’ first major Army-size attack drives the Germans back in the summer of 1918. These are slogging battles that see the Americans push deep into the German lines. One of the major assault units is MacArthur’s 42d Infantry (the “Rainbow Division”) and we will follow its advance.
  • Oise-Aisne American Cemetery
  • Reims, one of the most famous and beautiful cities in France:
    • The Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims, which played an important ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France
    • Surrender Museum, a former school building, where the Germans surrendered to Eisenhower on May 8, 1945
  • Social Hour
  • Dinner

Day 5

  • Breakfast
  • The Somme – site of the incredible offensive in July 1916, the defining moment of the British participation in the Great War. Over 57,000 British soldiers fall as casualties the first day, as do an addition 14,000 French and Germans. But the weight of this attack, in combination with the intense fighting going on simultaneously at Verdun, leads the Germans to make strategic errors that bring the Americans into the war.
  • St Quentin Canal (September-October 1918) – the Americans, alongside Australian and other British troops, break through the Hindenburg Line in the last months of the war, turning the stalemate into a race toward Germany.
  • Somme American Cemetery
  • Social Hour
  • Dinner

Day 6

  • Breakfast
  • Meuse-Argonne Offensive (September 11 to November 1918) – the largest American battle in history, and the biggest American contribution to Allied victory. This day will find us at many remarkable sites, including Harry Truman’s artillery battery, Sergeant Alvin York’s capture of 132 Germans in his one-man crusade, and the incredible story of the Lost Battalion and its fight.
  • Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery – the largest resting place of Americans in Europe
  • Montfaucon Monument and Souilly Marker – dramatic monuments to the Americans in the Great War. Montfaucon was a significant German defensive position and its capture and control will allow the Americans to advance deep into the heart of the German line, breaking it apart for the final drive to victory!
  • Social Hour
  • Dinner

Day 7

  • Breakfast
  • Soissons (July 1918) – In combination with the Aisne-Marne and Oise-Aisne offensives, here the Americans and French regain the ground lost in the German spring offensive in a series of attacks near this picturesque town.
  • Compiegne
    • Historic town of Joan of Arc
    • Château de Compiègne, a royal residence built for Louis XIV and restored by Napoleon
    • Railway car site for the surrenders in November 1918 and June 1940; the victory monument placed here by the people of Alsace and Lorraine is a truly dramatic image
  • Return to Paris and end of the expedition
Belleau Wood World War I tour

THIS WORLD WAR I EXPEDITION INCLUDES

  • Six nights’ boutique/luxury accommodations
  • In-depth guided tours with professional historian Dr. Brian DeToy
  • Visit to major World War I battle sites
  • Visit local French cultural/historical sites, including a Champagne tour and tasting at the renowned Moet & Chandon vineyard
  • Transportation by van or bus throughout trip
  • Optional opportunity to role-play an important character in World War I or French cultural history
  • Majority of all meals and drinks included with dinner
  • Social hour each day with one drink included
  • All entrance fees for group activities
  • Gratuities for docents and restaurants
  • Personalized tour support
  • Travel insurance through Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (click here for more details of coverage)
World War I tour

INTRIGUED BUT STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?

  • Let’s set up a conference call! We would love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have.
  • Complete the contact form below and let’s set up a call.

READY TO DISCOVER HISTORY?

  • This tour will be limited to 20 guests.
  • Pricing: $3,350 per person, double occupancy; single occupancy supplement $600.
  • $1,000 per person deposit due upon registration.
  • See Terms & Conditions for payment schedule and cancellation policy.
  • Active duty and career retired military, current and career retired educators, and students all receive a 10 percent discount.
  • All repeat Essential History Expeditions guests receive a 10 percent discount on this expedition.
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