We did Normandy on our own last Spring with our 3 kids ages 10,8,6. We stayed in Bayuex which was a perfect base for a few nights. We arranged a private tour with Oliver who owns Oliver 44 tours. He is a “one man show” and does his own tours. He actually used to work for Disney and was really great with our kids. He picked us up in Bayuex and took us around to many of the Dday sights (several of the main beaches, the American Cemetery, several bunkers and old artillery pieces, and some of the important small towns). He would give us some background history at each stop and show the kids historical pictures of the events that took place there, and then he’d give us time to explore each place on our own. I’m sure you could easily book a multi day tour with him if you wanted to explore more. Bayuex has a fabulous Saturday market with lots of local foods, flowers, and even small animals for sale. We also really enjoyed visiting the Bayuex Tapestry museum (had a great children’s audio guide), and the town cathedral. There was also a nice Dday museum in town (it was closed when we were there).
I'm looking out to future trips (only 4 more summers left before my son goes off to college!) trying to decide what we want to do next. We've got Alaska booked with Nat Geo for 2020, and Japan is on the list for 2022 or 2023. That leaves two open years, and for 2021 I am leaning strongly towards a trip to France that includes Normandy and the D-Day beaches. This is an area that I have not been able to visit, and I think it's something my son definitely should see (and he is really interested in history, so it's not a hard sell).
We typically travel for 10-14 days, so a trip of that length should leave us enough time to also visit Provence and the South of France (I've wanted to go to Eze for years) and maybe even sneak in a day at Disneyland Paris (I'm not too keen on spending additional time beyond that in Paris, since been-there-done-that).
I would like the time we spend in Normandy to be with a guided tour, only because we get so much more out of visits to historical sites when we have guides. I've looked at some of the D-Day specific trips (Nat Geo has an awesome one), but I think that is just too much time focused on history when there are other things I also want to do while we are there. I want something in between a day-trip from Paris and a 7-10 day war-intensive history course.
The option I'm leaning toward the most is the Backroads Travel Brittany and Normandy bike tour (preferably with the premier hotels). That's a 6 day tour with two days focused heavily on D-Day history. That would leave us another 4-6 days to see other parts of France on our own.
However, I am most definitely open to suggestions and would love to hear from anyone here who has done something similar, especially in the Normandy area. I'm open to private/custom tours, too (at least for the Normandy area - I think I can piecemeal the rest of it together myself).
I'm also looking for suggestions for pre-trip add-ons for Alaska next summer that we can do on our own. We will be flying to/from Anchorage.