Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Bayeaux, Normandie: Car Rental or "Tour"?

Bayeaux, Normandie: Car Rental or "Tour"?

Jan 9th, 2005, 03:23 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 83
Bayeaux, Normandie: Car Rental or "Tour"?

Hi again,

Thanks to the posters who have replied to my previous post.

So, I'm thinking....train from Paris to Bayeux...but, then should we rent a car or take one of those "bus tours" to see WWII sites and the area?

Where to rent a car in Bayeux and the approximate cost?

Is one day and an overnight stay enough?

Thanks so much!
ninalou is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 03:47 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,926
it really depends on how important this particular era of history is to you. If it has a fair amount of meaning to you, stay at minimum 2 nights and rent a car (and this will of course not be anywhere near enough but you should at least be able to visit all 5 beaches and some memorials.)

if you just feel it's a must see but it doesn't draw you in, I guess you could do it on a bus tour with a GOOD guide. personally I've been there 3 times and it's never enough.

I'd like to spend a whole summer there. or longer. I do hear the housing prices still aren't quite as insane as in other parts of France! hmmmmmmmmm
flygirl is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 03:51 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1
Nina:

Gretchen and Robespierre have given you a lot of good tips. My girlfriend and I spent about 4 days in Normandy last March and you really shouldn't even bother if you can only spend a day out there, unless the Normandy beaches are a must. There is simply just too much to see.

The way I would do it if you only have a day is forget the car because you'll get lost out there. Take a train from Gare St. Lazare the day before you want to see the beaches, spend the night at the Hotel D'Argouges in Bayeux (be advised it will be a little bit of a walk from the train station but well worth it), then take a tour with Victory tours:

http://www.lignerolles.homestead.com/victorytours.html

I highly recommend that you book this ASAP. Roel (prounounced rule) is a superb guide and very knowledgable. One thing I might suggest is if you're planning on returning to Paris that day, then be considerate to your fellow travellers and take the half-day tour so you don't cut the people on the full-day tour short. I'm speaking from experience.

If you have time to eat in Bayeux, go to the Bistro de Paris, which is just on the other side of the square near your hotel. I'm sure Roel will point it out to you.

You should really try to see the tapestry while you're there. Do your best to learn as much as possible about the Norman conquest of England before you go. You'll be glad you did.

Good Luck.
KingB71 is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 04:27 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,871
If you are going to rent a car to see Normandy and are taking the train, be advised that, whereas there are a dozen car rental companies at the train station in Caen, I think there's only one in Bayeux. Ergo, take the train to Caen if picking up a rental car. It's less than a half-hour drive to Bayeux if that's where you're staying.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 11:59 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,740
I would recommend taking a guided tour of the WWII sites as the local guides/groups know the countryside very well and the exact places to go, etc. Trying to do that with maps and a car would be trouble than it's worth (IMO) because of gas, parking, etc. The tours I have taken have been very comprehensive and informative - I learned things I didn't know nor would ever know from a guidebook or even textbook!

I think you should add an additional day to your time in Bayuex as the tours take all day, then you will want to explore Bayeux -- at least see its famous Tapestry and cathedral the following day before heading on to your other destinations in France.
Huitres is offline  
Jan 10th, 2005, 03:56 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 480
Hello Nina:

You may be interested in my trip report posted 11/21/04 entitled "Trip Report - France- Sort Of ..."; it deals with some of the issues you raise and confirms some of the advice of earlier posts, especially on the wisdom of using Victory Tours. Say Hello to Roel for me. Gradyghost

gradyghost is offline  
Jan 10th, 2005, 07:54 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
I didn't want to rent a car out of concern for getting lost and having to watch the road and signs, rather than the countryside. But I didn't want to take a tour because, except for the very expensive ones, you are on someone else's schedule, not yours, and I found no single tour that went to all the specific sites I wanted to see (they would have an American tour, a British tour, a Canadian tour, etc.).

I studied a lot, including checking where all the tours went, then made up my own list and hired a taxi for a day. It went well. By the way, we opted to stay in Caen because we wanted to spend a lot of time at the peace museum, and see the ducal chateau and art museum.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 10:37 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 816
Having rented cars in Italy twice and having to deal with maps and hard to read road signs, I was prepared for the same experience last June when we rented a car in Normandy. However, we somehow recieved a free upgrade to a car with a GPS in it and it made a huge difference. We barely even looked at a map or a road sign for the 4 days we were there. We drove all over Normandy, had a wonderful time and never got lost once (after my grand daughter figured out how to reprogram it to speak English). If you can afford it (I'm not sure what it costs since we were given a free upgrade), I highly recommend getting a car with a GPS and let technology do the hard work for you. The freedom of having our own car is very important to us so I'm thinking whatever the GPS costs is well worth it. The only thing you miss out on are the funny stories that happen when you are lost at night in a strange country and you have to figure out what to do. HA!!!!
john183 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 11:22 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,871
A GPS system is a nice little gadget, but lest ninalou get the impression that driving in Normandy is somehow difficult, I'd like to say it's not. Especially if your main interest is the D-Day stuff. You just drive along the coast! Hard to get lost doing that!

And inland, as everywhere in France, things are remarkably well signed. You just have to know the names of towns in the general direction you're going - easy enough with a 5-second glance at a map.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 11:54 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 816
StCirq:

You are absolutely correct. Driving in Normandy even without a GPS is very easy. Where we found it useful was programming in our exact destination (hotels, car rental agency, restaurants, etc) and never having to even look at a street sign or a road sign. But back to your point, driving between the little towns on the D-Day coast is very easy and very fun. The roads are well marked and the towns are little so getting lost there would actually be hard to do. Thanks for not letting me lead ninalou astray.
john183 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 12:22 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,926
It is just about impossible to get lost driving in France. The roads are superbly signposted, and the roundabouts make it very very easy. And should you happen to choose the wrong "spoke" off the roundabout, the very next one will put you back where you started and you can try again.

Piece of cake.
flygirl is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 02:41 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 28
Although I agree with everyone that spending a lot of time in the area is ideal, it should not be crossed off the list simply because you don't have days and days. My daughter and I took the train from Paris the day after Christmas a few weeks ago, to Bayeux and there hired a taxi. The driver was very knowledgeable, and first we went to the American Cemetary, where we wandered in solitary splendor for 45 minutes or so, then drove to several other spots of great interest. We then had him take us back to the center of Bayeux where we looked at the beautiful cathedral, had something to eat and drink, and caught an early evening train to Paris. We were enchanted by all we saw and will definitely go back with more time.
Trevia is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 03:40 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 13
I want to second a previous post about taking the guided tour with Roel on Victory Tours. My family and I stayed at his lovely B and B at Chateau de Lignerolles and took his half day tour. It was fantastic and I can't recommend it highly enough.

http://www.lignerolles.homestead.com/victorytours.html
jheinzen is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:55 AM.