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Day trip from Paris to Normandy Beaches-is it doable?

Day trip from Paris to Normandy Beaches-is it doable?

Apr 16th, 2013, 11:20 AM
  #1  
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Day trip from Paris to Normandy Beaches-is it doable?

We will be in Paris for a week in September and would like to visit the beaches of Normandy. Can it be done as a day trip or will we need to spend a night? If so any suggestions for a hotel near the beaches? My father was day 3 during the war so I'm very interested.
We would prefer to travel by train rather than rent a car.
Has anyone made this trip by train and is it easy to get around?
Also, is it best to get a tour guide?
Thanks.
bellagio is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 11:43 AM
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Easy to do by train - about 2 hours each way to Bayeux, via Caen - at Bayeux hook up with mini-bus tours that take you on a half- or full-day excursion to the most prominent D-Day sites. Contact the Bayeux Syndicagt d'Iniative or tourist office for a listing of several such companies.

No need for a group tour from Paris. Schedules for trains - www.voyages-sncf.com - for lots of good info on French trains check out www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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As another option, you could train from Paris to Caen or Bayeux and rent a car there. I did that a couple of years back. Driving in Normandy was very easy and it was quite pretty countryside. I'm sure a tour would work for some people, but I preferred having the flexibility of a car without the hassles of driving in/near Paris itself.

I wound up spending a couple of nights in the area; at least one night would sure make it easier. Many people prefer to stay in Bayeux - a charming old town not far from the beaches.
Andrew is online now  
Apr 16th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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cybertraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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You need to check the train schedules and the Bayeux tour schedules to make sure the timetable would work. You could rent a car in Bayeux, but you would spend a lot of time trying to find your way around.
tom18 is online now  
Apr 16th, 2013, 12:56 PM
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Yes doable but I believe you will regret the stress and rush and you may not have the time to really take in and appreciate what you are experiencing.
Stay at least one night and drive if you can. Bayeux is a good choice with emphasis on the British & Canadian beaches, Gold, Sword, Juno and of course Omaha beach with the American Cemetery above. There are also a number of D-Day museums about.
If you can do study preparation an organized tour may not be necessary.
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Apr 16th, 2013, 12:56 PM
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<>

Why is that? Everything is incredibly well signed, there's not all that much territory to cover just to see the main D-Day sights, most are on or just off the one main coastal route, and maps of all kinds are available everywhere. It's one of the easiest places in France to navigate, IMO.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 16th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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Short answer is...by car, yes you can, but why would you want to?
Langcraft is offline  
Apr 16th, 2013, 04:57 PM
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I've done it by car a half-dozen times and thoroughly enjoyed it every time, but never in just one or two days. I don't know how to answer "why would you want to?" except to say that you have the freedom to wander through interesting territory, stop and see small sights you'd never find on a tour, enjoy the freedom to have lunch or stop in a village from time to time....all the little things that make wandering around France completely enjoyable.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 16th, 2013, 06:10 PM
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You can book a tour. If you want a long day--but it is possible.
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Apr 16th, 2013, 08:41 PM
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Bayeux sounds so pretty...i think we will spend a couple of days there first and visit the beaches then head to Paris to finish our vacation.
bellagio is offline  
Apr 17th, 2013, 04:17 AM
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It is VERY worth several days in the area. Good for you!!
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Apr 17th, 2013, 04:46 AM
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My family of six did this day trip from Paris three years ago and it was amazing...easily the highlight for my four teenagers. We splurged and booked an all-day tour with a guide named Stuart Robertson. http://www.normandybattletours.com/your-guide/

We caught an early train out of Paris, around 6-7am. Stuart picked us up at the station in Caen, in a large comfortable van. I can't even explain the difference having a WWII expert and author telling the Normandy story in detail, talking about specific people and their lives/their fate/their heroic actions, showing us their pictures, making them come alive. The kids (and adults) were truly spellbound. We are all well read on this time period and events, but the level of knowledge Stuart has is far and beyond the normal history buff. Stuart has first hand stories from the many survivors who make pilgrimages to Normandy. He tells you more than facts and figures, more than what is in any book or Rick Steves' guide (No offense...I love Rick).

It is also invaluable to not have to read maps and waste time figuring out a proper itinerary. Stuart has the entire day planned and hits all of the highlights, allowing time to wander as well. The kids had plenty of time to explore the bombed beaches and towns. The tour also included the museum and the American Cemetery, which is spectacular. Driving from location to location, Stuart gave us detailed history lessons. When we stopped for lunch, a survivor visiting the area knew Stuart and we were able to meet and talk to him...a true honor for our children who are very much into history.

Stuart had us back to the train station around 5-6pm, getting us back into Paris in time for a late dinner.

Sure, you can plan this all yourself and we typically do 'do-it-ourselves' too, but this is one time where I feel a tour made all of the difference in the world.
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Apr 17th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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Why is that? Everything is incredibly well signed, there's not all that much territory to cover just to see the main D-Day sights, most are on or just off the one main coastal route, and maps of all kinds are available everywhere. It's one of the easiest places in France to navigate, IMO.>

I agree - I have biked around that rather compact area several times and never had a problem finding my way - roads in France are incredibly well-marked - every intersection has a sign to nearby towns - just get a Michelin map of the area and you'll have no problems - actually not that many roads to chose from.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 17th, 2013, 08:58 AM
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I think a guide might really enhance the experience of touring the Normandy D-Day sites, but I too found the area extremely easy to navigate and also very beautiful. With the car, I liked the freedom to stop and linger whenever I wanted to. I actually went back to the American Cemetery above Omaha Beach a second time.
Andrew is online now  
Apr 17th, 2013, 09:14 AM
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Seeing as Bellagio's father was actually part of the war in Normandy, hearing stories, learning small details, seeing things that aren't in the guidebooks...those all could help personalize the experience for her and help her get a better understanding of what her father went through.

So what if it's easy to drive around and read signs. Lot's of places are...that doesn't mean you get a full understanding of the area. Unless you put the research in yourself, which in the case of WWII and Normandy is immense, driving around and looking at things doesn't tell you much.
Totally depends what you want to get out of it.
jmkay is offline  
Apr 17th, 2013, 09:39 AM
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<< Unless you put the research in yourself>>

Well yes, of course, that's key. No one was suggesting just driving around and looking at things.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 17th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Again, I'll suggest the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy. VERY nice detailed tours of the beaches. And each museum at the sites have excellent guide books and movies, etc.
Gretchen is online now  
Apr 17th, 2013, 12:38 PM
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A 2nd to looking around Bayeux for at least a few hours - the great cathedral and Queen Matilda's Tapestry documenting in stitches the Norman Conquest of 1066 of England are two don't miss sights.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 19th, 2013, 05:04 PM
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Can anyone recall if an arrival into Bayeux on the train that arrives there at 10:25 is enough for a tour of the American Normandy beaches? Also, train would be leaving at 6:53 p.m. Does this schedule give me enough time?
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