A Plan for Normandy....need help

Dec 26th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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A Plan for Normandy....need help

I'm in the planning stages...
Arrive in Paris from the USA On Friday May 22. Rent car at airport and drive to? would like to drive for about 1.5 hours and stop for the night.

Originally planned to stay in Bayeux which is longer. If we did that, where would we stop along the way?

While in the area...

I want to see Mont-St-Michel
D-Day museum in Caen
D-day beaches
Bayeux tapestry
other suggestions?

I almost feel like the above will take up the time we have. I read about all of these other wonderful places, but I don't want to be overplanned.

We like quaint towns but we are doing this to see WW2 sights.

Plan to leave on the Monday or Tuesday night on a late night ferry to Portsmouth.

Where's the best place to catch it? We thought Caen but considering the time we have, should we leave from Calais and see that town too?
teach905 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 02:31 PM
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Why not just take the train to Bayeux? Pick up a rental car there.

If you do decide to drive but don't want to go that far on the first day, I'd suggest stopping in Rouen. But you've got a lot to take in between Friday and Monday/Tuesday, so I'd get to Normandy as soon as you can.

Yes, the sights you've listed will take up all of your time.

There's absolutely no good reason on earth to bother seeing Calais.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 26th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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Dieppe and the nearby area is more interesting than Calais and there are ferries from Dieppe to England.
Michael is online now  
Dec 26th, 2008, 03:19 PM
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Hi Teach,

I thought you were thinking taking the train to Chartres then rental car next day to Bayeux. I have been severely chastized for driving 60 miles in a country I know very well after an overnight flight. If you are not familar with driving in France, it's not a good idea. If you're determined to do it, use Mappy or Mapquest to find the optimal stop an hour or so from CDG.

Or, if you've ruled out Chartres, you can get to Bayeux by train in under 3 hours, connecting in Caen. You would have to get into the Gare St. Lazare in Paris.

You'd want the better part of a day to see Mont St. Michel, particularly if you want to climb to the top, which is wonderful.

You could do the DD beaches and museum in Caen in one day--depends on how many beaches and whether or not you would want to go to the cemetery, which is very moving. A day and a half or two days would be better.

Honfleur is a very pretty fishing village which is close to where you will be so you could add that in if you have extra time.

I can think of nothing of interest in Calais to justify driving that far east, particularly if your aim once you've crossed to England is Bath.

Cathinjoetown is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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I have decided we would Chartres on another trip. We know we will return to Paris and that is an easy day trip.

If we get in early on Friday. I amassuming we can be in Caen by Mid afternoon. I'm sure we can take a taxi to the museum. Is there someplace to leave the luggage?

Does it make more sense go directly to Bayeux to see the tapestry that afternoon and get the car on Sat and drive to Caen to see the museum in the AM and Sat afternoon and Sunday to do Mont st Michel.

That leaves us Monday and Tuesday in the area. (Monday we really should be at the American cemetary since it will be Memorial Day. )

That leaves us Tuesday to see some sites before we get on the boat. We can do an extra day if we need to. I am just doing the planning now. I jsut thought from Friday until Tuesday night in the region would be enough time.

If someone thinks otherwise, let me know.

teach905 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 09:58 PM
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teach, found your plans interesting. I was searching for ideas for a trip to France myself. Tenative plans have us arriving on the same day. I have been looking at renting a car to get to Bayeux, but the price is currently over 200 per day (4 travelers). It looks as though a train would be easier in case of jet lag, and the cost estimates out at under 30 per person with a prem fare. We'd then rent a car in Caen for driving around the beaches, Bayeux and MSM. We'd return to Paris on Monday or Tuesday for another week.

I'll continue to lurk this post for further information. Maybe we'll meet up. BTW, we'd depart from MCI, if everything works out in the planning. I'm hoping for flights cheaper than 1050 pp, but that's what it looks like now, anyway.
apersuader65 is offline  
Dec 26th, 2008, 10:27 PM
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Loved Bayeux, great B&B's there. Have you thought about taking the Battlebus tours? This is a really fantastic tour and I am so surprised that no one has mentioned it yet. We did the 2 day American Experience tour and were so happy that we did both days. The guides make everything so interesting and took us places we would have never found by ourselves. They fill up though especially for holidays like Memorial Day, so you would need to book soon.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 04:13 AM
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I would drive to Honfleur with maybe a stop in Rouen(Joan of Arc)or Giverney(Monet's house and garden)have lunch and stay the night in Honfleur with dinner on the Quay. Drive to Caen Memorial in am, lunch in Caen, drive to Bayeux in afternoon, see the Tapestry and town and stay the night in Bayeux. Next day take a Full day tour of the D-Day area with Battlebus(they have a web site) or use someone else the TI recommends(they do have 1/2 days tours). Stay the night in Bayeux. Next day Drive to Mont-St-Michel, have a picnic or lunch outside the Mont or on way, visit the abbey in the afternoon and stay the night in the area,(night view of the Mont is awesome) or on the Mont. I believe this would fit your schedule. Also I believe the Caen Memorial has a web site and that they do 1/2 tours of the D-Day Beaches. Also you could catch the Ferry from Cherbourg, Calais would be too far away and in the wrong direction IMO. Other Fodorites will know for sure. One side note Honfleur is extremely popular on the weekends with the French so make reservations early.
cbo86 is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 04:50 AM
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I'm not sure if this will answer your questions, but...

The Caen Peace museum can take a good half day to see. My daughter and I spent 5 hours there and didn't see everything.

I highly recommend taking a tour of the beaches esp. if you have time constraints. A long half day or full day is good.

Mont Ste. Michel itself can be nicely seen in around 2-2.5 hours but the trip there is long by car or train. To save time, rent a car as there is very limited train/bus from Bayeux to to MSM.

Bayeux tapestry can again be seen nicely in 2 hours including the film which I would see before the tapestry as it really will help.

Our trip was primarily for WWII sites but we threw in MSM. It was insanely busy there in June but it is a majestic and spiritual place if you can get past the touristy mess at the base and the crowds in the monastery.

If you would like to hear more about our trip, search "WWII and Holocaust Journey" and scroll to the section on Normandy. I believe there are details about how long the trains took etc.

have a great trip!


gruezi is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 05:04 AM
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Our trip consisted of 2 days in Paris, got the car and drive to Caan to see the museum.
Spend the night in Honfleur.
Planned on spending the next 2 nights in Bayeaux (we ended up spending 4 nights because the entire area is so interesting with WWII sites) We took the Battlebus American Tour - excellent!! Worth every dime.
On the way to MSM, don't miss the German Cemetery - what a different from the American Cemetery.
This was one of the best trip we've ever taken. Enjoy!
carmar is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 06:39 AM
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apersuader, what car rental outfits have you been looking at that are charging $200 a day? I don't think I've ever paid more than $50. The number of people in the car never figured into the price, either, just the size of the car.

I wouldn't go to Caen, leave luggage, visit the museum, and then go to Bayeux. I'd go straight to Bayeux and see the tapestry the first afternoon. You can walk just about anywhere in Bayeux. It's small and compact and except for maybe a taxi from the train station to a hotel, you could see it all on foot. Then next day you could get a rental car and drive to Caen, se the Memorial (agree it takes at least 4 hours), have lunch and keep going on to the beaches, Arromanches, etc.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 27th, 2008, 07:35 AM
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What worked well for us was to take the train to Bayeux. The nonstop train takes exactly 2 hours. We checked into our hotel there, the Churchill Hotel, then headed back to Caen to the museum. The next day we did the one day tour with Battlebus, which was excellent! We really kicked ourselves for not taking the two day tour. This was 3 women, myself, DD who was 16, and my mother. Then the next day we did the Tapestry and wandered Bayeux itself before heading back to Paris on the train.
mms is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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This was a perfect, beautiful B&B in Bayeux. Seriously yummy breakfast, a king size bed and giant bathroom and a very gracious hostess.

Battlebus also offers a British Experience, a Canadian Experience and a Band of Brothers tour. If I had the time and money I would go on all of them, they are truly that good. On the 2 day tour, you also get to visit the German cemetary and I think 2 museums. Entrance was included in the tour price. We also visited the musueum in Bayeux and also the British cemetary. Oh, and we took the train to Bayeux from Paris. Bayeux is great for walking around and I got some great photos. Cathedral is lovely too.
Mainhattengirl is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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We drove from CDG to Les Andelys to spend the night at La Chaine d'Or, a charming inn with an interesting history along the Seine. It's a lovely place to relax that first day after flying all night. It fits into your time plan, is an easy drive, and it's on the way to where you're going.
grandmere is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 08:36 AM
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What cbo66 said! Sounds perfect to me. Similar advice is given in the Rick Steves guidebooks.
azzure is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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azzure--that was close to what we did on our Normandy trip when we were in France in 2002 except that we took the train to Vernon(from Paris)and picked up our rental car there. In fact we used Steves Guide but lost it in Rouen and were in a panic. The Hotel owner in Honfleur gave us their copy, which was sooo kind, but we got a laugh when she referred to Steves(in her french accent) as "we, we, Backpack Rick".
cbo86 is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 11:33 AM
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Drive to Rouen for the night. Then make your way to Bayeux, perhaps via Caen. If you train to Bayeux you would have to go into Paris to catch the train--a lot of doing, in my opinion. Rouen is easily worth a half day looking around.
Gretchen is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 03:19 PM
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Since you are just arriving from the USA, I would recommend Grandmere's plan.

Although I haven't been to Les Andelys, many people here on the board have spoken highly of it, and it fits well within the time frame and your interests. Then continue on to Bayeux for the beaches and spend the last night on Mt St-Michel.

If you weren't just off the plane, I would agree with cbo; but driving to Rouen (a large city) and then driving a few more hours to Honfleur just doesn't make sense with someone just arriving from overseas. You'll be too tired to enjoy it.

Personally, although I do like Rouen, I don't think it's a relaxing first night stop. However, if you do decide to go there, you're better off taking the train and sleeping the first night there, and then picking up a car the next day. And you'll be more refreshed.

Or, if you're really energetic, and are committed to getting a car after arriving, perhaps push it a little and go all the way to Honfleur. I LOVE that town, and it's a great place to relax. And then continue on to Bayeux the next day (by way of Caen, if you want). I just think stopping in Rouen would be much too exhausting after getting off the plane.

I think I'm of at least 2 or 3 minds here! Hope this "thinking out loud" helps you work out your own plan!

Enjoy, you'll have a great time no matter what you decide.


progol is online now  
Dec 27th, 2008, 03:33 PM
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We flew Ryanair from England to Dinard, France. Another suggestion would be to drop off the rental car at the Dinard airport and fly to England.

We stayed at a b&b at Mont St Michel which we liked. http://www.bedbreak.com/lajacotiere/

I made the reservations before we left on our trip. The b&b recommended a small restaurant down the road a mile or so and it had such good food we ate there the 2 nights we stayed at the b&b. Wonderful omelettes and much cheaper than the ones on the mont.

We drove to the abbey once and walked to the abbey once. I liked the walk the best.

bratsandbeer is offline  
Dec 27th, 2008, 07:12 PM
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We took a trip to Normandy a few years ago, following the footsteps of impressionists painters.

1. went to Auvers-sur-Oise to see the landscape that Van Gogh, Cezane and other Impresstionists painted. We visited Monet's Giverny the next day.
2. To Honfleur. As some posters said, it's a very charming fishing village.
3. Drove on Cote de fleurs (coast of flowers) to the hotel where Marcel Proust used to take holidays and wrote about the madeleines he had tasted during childhood.
4. went to Mt St. Michel
5. continue our trip on cote emeraude (emerald coast) to Brittany. The drive was gorgeous.

We drove, of course. We also stayed at quaint but comfortable Bed & Breakfasts that belong to the Gite de France system (you can google and order the guide in English). The prices were very reasonable, and the experience priceless. We didn't want to leave our Gite at the end of our trip. The owner's 10-year-old daughter played Beethoven for us every night.

Oh, Normandie, je t'adore.
kim_Lee is offline  

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