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3 nights in Bayeux, FRANCE...how to make the most of our days in winter?

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Dec 7th, 2013, 06:56 PM
  #1
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3 nights in Bayeux, FRANCE...how to make the most of our days in winter?

OK back with some questions, folks:
Given that we have decided on Bayeux for a base- how many different activities can we cram in ?( joking...we DO want to see lots but dont want to rush from sight to sight either)

Daughter (20) and I love history and OH says he will wait in the car LOL ..so we are most keen on the Bayeux tapestry having just researched/ watched documentaries on this period
Caen to see any memorial to William the Conqueror and the world war museum

we have ( sort of) shut the door on Mont st Michel and St Malo thinking that theyre too far away...so what else is there around Bayeux to fill up our days? OH loves driving so we
have an excellent chauffeur and he can speak French to boot

How long does it take to visit the beaches and any related museums..?
I realise that different people spend different amounts of time in museums..but just to generalise...not knowing the distances between significant sights/sites makes it difficult to plan out 3 days worth of itinerary

Are there any guided tours that we should consider- being winter, do these operate as regularly? or can we do it all ourselves?
I also realise that a lot of this information can be obtained locally...just want to be mentally prepared that's'all

Thank you for any teeny tips that might you may think of!
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Dec 7th, 2013, 07:59 PM
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kja
 
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I found the Michelin Green Guide very helpful for this area. The Rough Guide also proved to be very useful.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:05 PM
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thank you kja...i havent seen michelin guides..must look out for them..
i have borrowed an eyesight one from a friend of paris but havent got anything for regional france ( we were booked on a tour initially that just got cancelled)

I dont want to take too many books with me...we are travelling through Ireland so our luggage limit has been reduced from 30kg to 20kg so i am just writing notes or taking photocopies at this moment

GRETCHEN: thanks for recommending the Hotel Le Bayeux...we have a triple room for 88AUD per night...cheap as chips Hooray! 177 euros for three nights! (that was the cost of just ONE night for a triple in the hotel in rouen we were looking at)
It had good reviews on tripadvisor and your recommendation sealed it for me...really appreciate your contributions to this leg of our journey!
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:13 PM
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kja
 
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No need to take guidebooks with you unless you want to (I always take at least one on my Kindle), but they can prove invaluable as you plan. You'll learn about all sorts of places and things that no one mentions.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:24 PM
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Mont St. Michel is only about 1.5 hrs away by autoroute.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 05:22 AM
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We have taken one of the WWWII tours offered by Overlord and found it very interesting. There are many sights to see if you are interested in the D-Day invasion and battles. Also in Bayeux, the cathedral as well as the tapestry is interesting to visit. As mentioned by Grandmere, MSM is only an hour and a half away and the Hotel Churchill in Bayeux offers a tour there if you don't want to drive. There is a lot of Normandy information available on-line, ie. tourist offices for the area and possibly a library local to you might have various books available for you to study.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Caen is worth a day on its own. The city was badly damaged by the Normandy campaign but was repaired with an eye to preserving history. William's castle, more like a fortified hill, provides a panoramic view over the city and has two museums. The regional tourism authority's site provides useful examples http://www.normandie-tourisme.fr/art...aen-291-2.html
The Caen memorial and peace museum deserves a thorough visit http://normandy.memorial-caen.com/
You can also take note of the long and bitter tank battles fought on the edges of the city, which slowed the Allied advance.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 06:00 AM
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The Green Guide is not large and will tell you all you want to know about every place you will be. You can design your own tour of the beaches you want. It will detail the Tapestry.
I agree that MSM is too far--we decided against it and were in Bayeux longer.
Every war site will also have guide books--so you can take one Green Guide or multiple books from various sites.
I know many recommend tours, but we found we could move on at our own rate--and pretty much know what we wanted to know without feeling like we were Eisenhower's chief of staff with troop movements.
We did go up to Ste. Mere Eglise, but if you did Omaha, Ponte du Hoc, Arromanches and the American Cemetery I think you would feel educated, awed and humbled. You could basically do these in a day (as I recall)but maybe not a winter day.
You can order the Green Guide and a Normandy map online--please. It is really the only way you can get a feel for these distances--and basically how close things are.
Getting to the beaches from Hotel Bayeux is easy with its location very near the exit to highways out of Bayeux.
Don't forget the cheese and cider of Normandy.
The Green Guide will also guide you in Rouen and Caen if you are doing that.
I will bet good money that your husband will not wait in the car.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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Bayeux is a neat little town with many good restaurants. In addition to what others have said, the WWII museum is very good in telling the story of D-Day. (The museum in Caen is a more general museum about WWII and peace.) My impression is that most D-Day tour operators shut down for the winter (the weather on the beaches at this time of the year can be very cold), but check their websites for verification. I also would recommend the day trip to MSM from the Churchill Hotel. Enjoy your time there.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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I would recommend that you take every precaution with your wardrobe against it being very cold. On the day in late February when we did a guided tour of the beaches (with the excellent Roel Klinkhamer of Victory Tours) it was 37 degrees with a biting wind. I wore silk longjohns and all 3 pairs of hiking pants that I had brought, plus coat, furry hat and gloves. It was a moving trip, and we enjoyed the Caen Museum, Bayeux Cathedral, tapestry, and the American, British and German cemetaries. I had hoped to do the cheese and cider route, but the cideries weren't really open at that time of year. The people in Bayeux I found to be very friendly, and the town itself can't be beat.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 01:13 PM
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I wanted to find where those caramels were made. The village has great places to eat and we had a lot of fun in this pub that was always open. We were there the night of the election and it was very lively. They have a nice shopping area and a very clean laundrymat if you need to do washing.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 03:12 PM
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A good bit of William the Conqueror history in Falaise, where you can visit his castle. It's not too far from Bayeux (about 40 miles): http://www.falaise-tourisme.com/en/.

On your way to Falaise, you could plan a route through La Suisse Normande, which is quite scenic: http://www.normandie-tourisme.fr/art...nde-399-2.html.
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Dec 9th, 2013, 02:35 AM
  #13
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thank you so much for adding your suggestions and links

every little bit helps and i do so appreciate you all for taking the time to reply to my questions

have noted all in my travel diary
getting excited now...not long to go before we leave our sunny shores and head for our first ever european winter!
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Dec 9th, 2013, 05:34 AM
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About the Tapestry--tell your husband that even if he's not "into" the history so much, he will probably enjoy this display. There's an audio guide as you walk along the tapestry so he can zip through if he wants, or stop the voice and look at something for longer if he wants. It's not expensive and will be warmer than the car--ha!

Definitely go to the WWII museum in Bayeaux. The emphases is DDay but has more. And I assume you will go into the cathedral. It is magnificent.

We did not have enough time in the Caen Peace Museum (about 2 hours--needed more)--it is much more about the War in general, including before and after, than about the local battlefields and DDay.

As to the DDay beaches--as you said, each person is going to have particular "musts" but you can certainly plan your own day, with the abundance of material out there, if you choose. Omaha, American Cemetery and Museum there, Pont du Hoc would be the 3 I'd put first. Add Longues-sur-Mer perhaps. We started a LOONNNG July day last summer (from a B&B about 30 minutes from Bayeaux) at Arromanches, went to the 4 things I listed, then to Pont du Roc and Utah Beach (with some other wiggles and stops) and then turned inland and made it to St Mare Eglise for a walk and late dinner. But you won't have the light we had, so this is too much. We found Pont du Roc more interesting than Arromanches (where we chose not to go into any displays/museums) and were glad we did make it to Utah Beach, too.

And this may be obvious, but the weather will be a factor as you will want the best of your days to be the one for the beaches, so I hope you are being flexible.

And we are all assuming you have 3 full days. If really only 2 (with travel, etc.) I'd recommend just Bayeaux and the Beaches. (although we did the Tapestry, the museum and cemetery there, and the cathedral in a long morning then drove to Caen for a bit before coming back to Bayeaux for dinner--again on a long summer day, and we had to short-change Caen to do this)

And if I only had 3 days in this whole area, I might put Mont St. Michel trip ahead of Caen (which is terrific--but you will get the WWII stuff at Bayeaux and the Beaches, would be my number 1 and 2). We were there (MSM) on a horribly misty, overcast, windy, cold for summer day and it was still magnificent. I haven't looked at distances or driving times but if you can have 4-5 hours there, it's so worth it. Just a thought.
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Dec 9th, 2013, 06:15 AM
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We spent 7 days in Bayeux and it was not quite enough! 1.5 days tour of the beaches (Omaha), pont du hoc, longues batteries, German Cemetery, British Cemetery and American Cemetery. The rest of our time was spent going to Utah Beach, the Mulberry harbor (which has a great little movie), various D-Day museums, St Lo, St Mere Eglise, and one day to Mont St Michel. We also did the Cathedral, tapestry and street markets in Bayeux. Our family liked the Petit Rapier for dinner there and the restaurant at the Lion D'Or as well. My number one priority was the beaches and American Cemetery. There are a few places I've been and things I've seen in Europe that literally brought me to my knees...the American Cemetery is one of them.
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Dec 9th, 2013, 07:18 AM
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I know many think don't about this but the German cemetery at La Cambe was very worth seeing. They are buried three to a grave and there are some very famous soldiers there. My husband is a historian and he pointed out Michael Wittmann, the Black Barron with the crew of Tiger 007. If you go look at the ages, most were just babes.
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Dec 9th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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I would not miss Arromanches (it doesn't take long) because it is how they had a port to come into for later landings. The reason they chose this stretch of coast line was because they knew if they tried to occupy a port, such as Cherbourg,the Germans would destroy it and it would be useless. They built the docks and floated them across the Channel!!
The German cemetery is also interesting for the fact that it was that group of German soldiers that did the atrocity at Ordour sur Glaine (sp)--murdering and burning alive an entire village near Limoges that is preserved just as it was that day. They left Ordour and went to Normandy.
As for them being just "babes", so were our troops. A friend we went to Paris with landed at Omaha at age 18, and marched up the Champs at 19.]
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Dec 9th, 2013, 10:49 PM
  #18
 
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Looks like you already have a lot of great recommendations.

You mentioned every little bit may help, so maybe there's some bits here that may come in useful:

www.wanderant.com/trips/ZAUuRN4kChfYrCuU8qlM2w
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Dec 10th, 2013, 02:57 AM
  #19
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Oh my!
There's more?!
Thank you...I know it can be tiresome to repeat things that you all may well have posted in other threads so I am really grateful that you dropped by to share your experiences ...
Please know that my family and I are very much indebted..it is not the first time that we have benefited from the insights of others on this forum
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Dec 10th, 2013, 05:51 AM
  #20
 
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Don't reject Honfleur which I think was discussed in another thread.

We just drove down from Caen to south of Toulouse, two beautiful sunny days, no wind, no traffic.

Of course, weather can change in a minute but don't discount things out of hand until on the day.

The Mémorial Museum in Caen, link above, offers combined packages of museum fee and beach tours. Excellent museum.
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