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Paris and Normandy: Civilization, Culture, Memory


Normandy and Paris, France

Program Description

This is a 6-credit program designed so that students choose one course from each section. It is possible to petition for other credit options to suit individual student program needs.

Section 1: French Civilization and Culture (3 credits):

ANTH 391: Study Abroad: French Civilization and Culture

ARTH 320: Travel Study: French Civilization and Culture

FL 309: French Civilization and Culture

HIST 341: Selected Themes: French Civilization and Culture

HIST 391: Travel Studies Seminar: French Civilization and Culture

HIST 489: Selected Topics in World History: French Civilization and Culture

SOCI 391: Study Abroad: French Civilization and Culture

Section 2: Normandy Invasion (3 credits):

ANTH 391: Study Abroad: Normandy Invasion

HIST 341: Selected Themes in World History: Normandy Invasion

HIST 391: Travel Studies Seminary: Normandy Invasion

HIST 489: Selected Topics in World History: Normandy Invasion

MSCI 490: Spec. Studies in Military Sci: Normandy Invasion

SOCI 391: Study Abroad: Normandy Invasion

We begin in Paris and use the city to better understand French history, culture, and civilization. To know Paris best is to walk its streets, mix with its people, and savor its past and present studying its monuments, sites and museums -- as well as its cafes and lifestyle. Travelling by Metro and on foot, students will reach a deeper appreciation for Paris as a great world center with a rich and varied past and a vibrant present and future. The Eiffel Tower, Versailles, the Louvre and a myriad of other sites leave lasting imprints and help introduce students to French culture. Our stay in Paris with visits to Chartres, Giverny, Caen, Bayeux, and Mont. St. Michel provide glimpses into French civilization and its place in the contemporary world. The program is in English.

The second part of the study tour examines the greatest challenge to French and western civilization: the Nazi occupation from 1940-1945. Along the pristine beaches of Normandy at Utah, Omaha, Sword and others, students will come to understand the significance of the D-Day invasion, the largest amphibious landing ever attempted and to appreciate what happened on 6 June 1944 and in the days and months following. We will study and observe the landings, the soldiers, and the French people who fought the Nazis and liberated France and Europe to preserve the freedoms we now enjoy. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with French citizens who were children in the beach villages and hear their stories, as well as the officials of coastal towns to understand how the memory of D-Day remains alive and is celebrated and commemorated each day by the people there. We will also take part in memorial celebrations recalling the soldiers who fought and died in Normandy. Those who wish, may also reside for a brief time with French host families. While knowledge of French enriches the host family stay, it is not required.

Students come away from the program with a deeper understanding of France and the French, as well as an appreciation of our own freedoms and the significance of preserving the memory of those whose courage and fortitude preserved our way of life today.

Location Description

The Study Tour begins in Paris where students experience the beauty, rich culture and history of the fascinating French capital. We experience Paris on foot, via Metro, and by a river tour along the Seine. Our excursions include visits to the major political, social, cultural, and religious centers of Paris, including its cathedral, historic churches, palaces, squares, gardens, museums, and art galleries. Students will also have time set aside for their own explorations in smaller groups. Previous groups found visits to the Musée du Louvre, Cathédrale de Notre-Dame, Conciergerie, Les Invalides, Versailles and its Gardens and, of course the Eiffel Tower, to be among their favorites. Throughout our stay, we enjoy dining at sidewalk cafes and small neighborhood restaurants. Leisurely meals combine excellent food with warm conversation. While in Paris, we travel by charter bus to Chartres for a guided tour of the Medieval city and its unparalleled Gothic Cathedral, then to Giverny, the house and gardens that inspired Claude Monet, the great Impressionist.

At the end of our stay in Paris, we join with Normandy Allies to visit Caen, home to the Memorial to the Peace, The museum and memorial serve as our introduction to D-Day and the liberation of France as we transition to the program’s second part. Our second home is Bayeux where we receive an orientation to D-Day, followed by a walking tour of Bayeux with visits to the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux(tapestry dates from 11th century), Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux (consecrated 1077, blend of Romanesque and Gothic), Commonwealth cemetery (largest World War II British cemetery in Europe. In addition there is an evening lecture by Major-General Graham Hollands (ret) on leadership styles in the competing armies followed by a reception.

Over the next several days, the group will experience many contacts with French citizens about D-Day and its aftermath. We visit a number of battlefields, museums, and cemeteries that serve to remind us of the enormous sacrifices made by Allied soldiers in liberating France and winning the war against the Nazis. We visit the Wall of Remembrance at St. Jean de Savigny (built and dedicated by local residents in 1997 to honor U.S. soldiers who fought there, Rue de Captain Carter (country lane near Saint-Lô (honors Captain Carter, a battalion surgeon killed there by a sniper), Saint-Lô commemorations, 72nd anniversary of liberation of Normandy’s 3rd largest town (after Rouen and Caen). At each site, the group will share in remembrance celebrations with French citizens for whom the liberation was the key event in modern history.

The group visits Juno Beach, (Canadian and British), L’Abbaye d’Ardenne (Canadian soldiers executed here by Germans, monastery founded 1121), Pegasus bridge, bridge over Orne Canal, target of British 6th Airborne, glider landing area and museum. The British captured this critical bridge on the night of 5 June surprising the Germans in their sleep. There are lectures and guided tours for some of these sites. From Juno, the group moves to Gold Beach, Longues-sur-Mer Battery (German artillery battery completed, April 1944), the Mulberries), Arromanches Village, Mulberry Museum and Circular Theater. The latter provides a lifelike simulation of 6 June 1944.

Our group then departs Bayeux for Grandcamp-Maisy, stopping along the way at Lebrec Cider Farm at Englesqueville-la-Percée (site of memorial to 147th Combat Engineers, centuries-old walled property owned by LeBrec family). Upon arrivial in Grandcamp, along the coast of Normandy, the group will tour the Musée Des Rangers in Grandcamp Maisy and attend a reception for host families. Some students will have the opportunity to live with French families during our stay here. Knowledge of French is not a requirement and past groups communicated well using Google Translate.

The group will visit a number of sites connected to the American area of operations at Omaha and Utah Beaches, including Pointe du Hoc (German Gun battery on cliff west of Omaha Beach captured by US Rangers 6 June), La Cambe Military Cemetery (German cemetery maintained by German War Graves Commission), Graignes (village southeast of Sainte-Mère-Église where US paratroops gathered on 5-6 June, driven from village of 11 June with French citizens and captured US soldiers executed by Germans). We also visit La Fière Bridge over Merderet River (location of 82nd Airborne drop zone west of Saint-Mère-Église, bridge critical to support landings at Utah Beach), Utah Beach and Visitors Center Museum (Western-most landing branch of US 4th Division), Sainte-Mére-Église (target of US airborne in support of Utah Beach landings. The church in village center has model representing paratrooper John Steele dangling from its roof). A number of French citizens who lived in the villages in the area on 6 June and thereafter, will share their stories with the group at a luncheon. The next day, the group visits Omaha Beach and the 29th Division Monument, American Military Cemetery at Colleville to participate in ceremonies honoring the soldiers buried there. We will also visit the Château Colombières (11th century Chateau with excellent museum of Allied propaganda. Located on southern edge of Aure River, the German headquarters was taken over by Allies after 9 June).

We will also visit near Trevières for a reception at the residence of Madame Thérèse Chedal-Anglay at Vierville. The original residence was destroyed during the Débarquement de Normandie. Our final evening in Grandcamp features a dinner for the group and a farewell reception for our hosts. The next morning, we return to Parisl. Following a restful night, the group will depart the next day for home from CDG airport.


Michael J. Galgano | | History


Throughout our stay in France, the group is housed in double accommodations in hotels with private baths and breakfast provided. All hotels provide free wifi connection. Students will be provided with names of hotels, addresses, and phone numbers prior to departure. There are laundry facilities in the hotels and coin operated facilities in each neighborhood. The Paris hotel is close to the Metro and the others are in the centers of the respective towns.There are grocery stores nearby, though there are no kitchen facilities.

All meals are covered by the program fee. Breakfasts are provided in each hotel and students will receive a daily meal allowance to cover lunch and dinner, except for group meals and meals provided by host families.

Additional Items to Consider

The director will meet all flights and direct students to their lodgings in Paris.

No visas or special immunizations necessary.

Many students bring their own laptops or cell phones to help communicate with family and friends at home. The director also has a phone which may be used for emergencies. Students and their families will be provided with the director's international phone number before departure.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Program open to all students

Application Process

(Waitlist Open)

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short essay 
  • Interview with Program Director
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU and first semester transfer students.

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now 

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ANTH 391: Study Abroad: French Civilization and Culture (3 credits)

ANTH 391: Study Abroad: Normandy Invasion (3 credits)

ARTH 320: Travel Study in Art History (3 credits)

FL 309: Civilization: Travel Study (3 credits)

HIST 341: Selected Themes in World History: French Civilization and Culture (3 credits)

HIST 341: Selected Themes in World History: Normandy Invasion (3 credits)

HIST 391: Travel Studies Seminar: French Civilization and Culture (3 credits)

HIST 391: Travel Studies Seminar: Normandy Invasion (3 credits)

HIST 489: Selected Topics in World History: French Civilization and Culture (3 credits)

HIST 489: Selected Topics in World History: Normandy Invasion (3 credits)

MSCI 490: Special Studies in Military Science: Normandy Invasion (3 credits)

SOCI 391: Study Abroad: French Civilization and Culture (3 credits)

SOCI 391: Study Abroad: Normandy Invasion (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.