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London to Normandy transportation options

London to Normandy transportation options

Aug 30th, 2006, 07:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 218
London to Normandy transportation options

We live in London and my father-in-law is coming from the USA to visit in October. He wants to do a short trip so we thought we would take him to Normandy and do a D Day tour as he is a veteran and would really enjoy it. We also want to add in a day at Mont St Michel, as it is nearby and DH and I have never been there. I am trying to figure out the shortest, perhaps cheapest, but definitely painless way of getting from SW London to Bayeux or the Normandy area. We will be travelling with our 2 children ages 2 and 4 as well.

I have nixed flying because it seems the only flights are Ryan Air out of Stanstead and that airport can be a 2 hour drive from our house - plus check in, flight, rent a car from the airport and drive from the Deauville airport - seems like a hassle and much more expensive than the other options.

We are talking about taking Eurostar, as Waterloo is a 20 minute train from us, but the connections seem difficult to get to Bayeux. My husband favors staying in Paris for a night, but his father is 75 and is overwhelmed easily and add that to my kids and I think it is too much. Plus getting public transport to Mont St Michel seems difficult.

So I am down to the ferry option. We can get to Portsmouth in about an hour and ferry to Caen or Cherbourg. The fast ferries to Caen only run on F,S,S and the slow ones take about 6 hours on Brittany Ferries. Caen is apparently 30 min drive from Bayeux and Cherbourg is about a 2 hour drive from Mt St Michel. So now I am considering the following options:

1. 6 hour ferry to Caen on Tues, stay in Bayeux all 3 nights - do d-day stuff one full day, mt st michel one full day, return on 3.5 hour ferry on Friday

2. 3 hour ferry to Cherbourg on Tues, drive 2 hours to Mt St Michel and stay there 1 night, drive 1.5 hours to Bayeux next day and stay there for 2 nights, return on 3.5 hour ferry on Friday.

My concern with option 1 is that 6 hours on a ferry is an awful long time. We have never taken the ferry so with check in etc. I don't know what kind of real time I am looking at.

Has anyone ever done this trip from London? Is there something I am missing - perhaps a different flight or train or a better way getting there? I would appreciate any help. I am about ready to scrap the whole thing and go to Bruges.
where2 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 07:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,129
I'd book a cabin on an overnight sailing from Portsmouth to either Caen or St-Malo. Brittany Ferries' ships are French and have good restaurants which are an agreeable way of passing time if you get a daylight sailing. There are buses from St-Malo and other places to Mont-Saint-Michel.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 08:13 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 218
The overnight ferry is a good idea but I will have to sell it to my husband. How are the ships for sleeping?

If we ferry we will take our car so no public transport will be necessary.
where2 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 08:37 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Brittany Ferries are very good, and you will get a feel for France while travelling with an English-speaking crew. You will also be following the route taken by much of the invasion fleet, so you will sense what it must have been like to leave England, perhaps for the last time, and land on a hostile shore. The shore is not hostile now, and Ouistreham (the port for Caen) is a small friendly place with lots of hotels. Between Ousitreham and Caen is Pegasus Bridge, where the first allied troops landed. The paratroopers secured the bridge without damage.
The ferries are mainly used by British and other European tourists, and is well off the usual American circuit.
chartley is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 09:08 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 878
We took the Eurostar from London to Calais in July. Rented a car and drove to the Beaches. (This could have been easily done in one day-London to Calais to the D-Beaches, though we didn't, as my husband wanted to see the WWI battlesites first. We then spent three nights in the Normandy area. We did the beaches on the first full day, round triped to Mt St Michel and St Malo the second full day. The third day we drove into Paris to catch our flight home, you could catch the Eurostar for the return. It was a pleasant trip as the roads are good and the distances/driving times short. Plus we did not find Paris any harder to drive in than Houston, NYCity or Washington DC.

Your option two is good. However, what I really wanted to do might work really well for you also. We couldn't do this because we would have gotten to St Malo on Sunday morning-no car rental companies open on the coast on Sunday. We wanted to take the overnight ferry Portsmouth to St Malo, rent a car on arrival, drive the coastal road to Mt St Michel and spend the night. This is a beautiful drive- an hour plus depending on how many times you get out to explore. This is a very easy day and you get to see the Mt in its best light. Next day drive to the Bayuex area. It takes about two hours. See some of the sites on your own(easy to do) or take some tours. Spend the next two nights in the area. You really need a car, I think, to fully enjoy all this area has to offer at your own pace, especially with two young children. Then take a fast ferry home.

cwn is offline  
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