Lots of Questions; Normandy Beaches

Oct 17th, 2010, 11:15 AM
  #1  
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Lots of Questions; Normandy Beaches

My husband and I are planning a trip to the Eurpoe, the beaches, Paris, and lots of other places. I've got so many questions so I'll post them one at a time and hopefully get lots of good feedback. I've done my reading but now need your help, please.

We want to see things on our own. Don't want to do the tour thing. Will be starting in Paris, seeing the tower, Norte Dame, etc. then it's on the the beaches.

1. What would you say are the important sites to see? So far, my list includes: Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc ,Sainte-Mère Église, and Utah Beach. Any other places on a must do itinerary? We will have 2 days to see the area.

2. Would you rent a car and drive from Paris (about 3-4 hours, I think)? Or would you take the train and then rent a car once you got there? Where would you train to and would there even be places to rent a car?

3. What order would you see things in? Where would you start and "work your way down or up"?

4. We want to see things slowly but not at a snails pace, so where would you spend the night and see the second half the next day?

That's a good start. Can you please help me??
koryandleslie is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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1. Take a look at this website: http://www.battlebus.fr/ Even if you decide to drive yourself to the various sites it will give you an idea of what you can see. I would certainly add the American Cemetrary to your list. We used Battlebus for our tour and thoroughly enjoyed the guides.

2. I think it depends on the "lots of other places" you plan to see you mentioned in your opening paragraph. What sort of itinerary are you planning? We rented a car at CDG and did a 2 wk driving trip through Normandy and to us that was the best way to do it. We then turned our car in and stayed our last few days in Paris before heading home. On the other hand, you could take the train to Caen and rent a car there. Don't miss the musuem there.

3. Again, where else are you going?

4. Bayeux is a good spot and has the tapestry to see too.
patandhank is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 11:48 AM
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You have left out teh American Cemetery.
With only two days you might really consider a tour of the beaches. You can do it on your own however, if you want to--and are not including the day you arrive or leave in the "days".
We rented the car at CDG and did a week of touring Normandy using Bayeux as a base for 3 days seeing the beaches. I would just stay in Bayeux. It is an easy drive up to St. Mere Eglise,and then work down the coast. Get the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy and look at their tour plans.
We also saw the Pegasus Bridge on the way to Bayeux--this is the British/Canadian portion of the Normandy invasion and very interesting and vital to the success. Just a thought.
Gretchen is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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I would say that the Mémorial in Caen is a "must-do," and it alone will consume a half a day, leaving you a day and a half for the rest of the DD sites - hardly much time at all, IMO. I'd definitely at least stop in Arromanches, if only to see the bunkers. There's a museum there, too, but it's small and nowhere near as comprehensive as the one in Caen. As for what order to do them in, well, start with Caen and keep going along the beach road until you've seen it all, if you even can.

If you're comfortable driving out of Paris, then do so. Then, of course, you'll be zooming by Rouen and Honfleur, just to name two stellar places, so you can get to the beaches. It's also very easy to take the train to Caen and pick up a car there.

I agree that Bayeux is the place to stay.

What are these "lots of other places" you're planning to visit, and how much time do you have for this trip?
StCirq is online now  
Oct 17th, 2010, 11:58 AM
  #5  
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Thanks! We're in our late 30's and can go at a little faster pace than most (I think....we just got back from 6 full days at Disney World!!)

We aren't stuck to 2 days. Can be three, but don't want more than 4 as we are seeing so much else.

Would it probably be best to get a guide? Can we get one out of Bayeux? Should we drive to Bayeux from Paris or is there a train? If so, how long would the train ride be?

We are also going to London, Belgium, Germany, Prague, Switzerland, etc. over the course of a few weeks.
koryandleslie is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 12:18 PM
  #6  
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Should I train to Caen (if I can), rent a car there, and work our way to the beaches staying in Bayeux?
koryandleslie is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 12:46 PM
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I am staying in Bayeux now. We did the tour today of Normandy today with Dale Booth, he is currently with Battlebus and soon to go out on his own. I would say, definitely, do the tour. From 8:30 to 5pm, it was packed, informative and brought the whole Battle of Normandy to life. In addition to the sites you mention, he brought us to some extra sites, a small church were 2 medics cared for 80 wounded on D Day., he brought very personal stories into the picture, making it very tangible. His knowlege of the German positions and how that affected the landings was incredible. We just discussed over dinner how different the day would be if we did a self tour. The beaches are beautiful and just walking them, not sure you appreciate what really happened on D Day. Can't recommend his tour enough. Bayeux is a quiet town, but centrally located and where the tour meets, so its convenient, plenty of restaurants but little night life. We have a car and are heading to Paris in the am.
marymacnp is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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Yes, take the train to Caen, pick up your rental car there, and drive 20 minutes to Bayeux.
StCirq is online now  
Oct 17th, 2010, 05:50 PM
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Book a tour. We did Overlord Tours, and it told us so much more than we would have known. Bayeux is the logical base, and such a charming town with the cathedral, tapestry and restaurants. We drove a rental car from Orly, but our friend did the train from Paris. It doesn't matter how you get there.
voyager61 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 09:31 PM
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TGV to Caen takes a couple of hours, and the car rental offices are right across the street from the train station. Driving from Paris will take quite a bit longer than the train does.
imaginaryjazz is offline  
Oct 18th, 2010, 06:50 AM
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My husband and I took the train from Paris to Bayeux in Sept. 2009 to tour Normandy. I would strongly recommend taking at least the 1 day Battlebus tour. We took a 2 day tour and thought it was more than worth the money. They give you so much more information than you could get on your own. Our tour was with Dale and his enthusiasm and knowledge adds so much. I agree with marymacnp that the visit to the small church was one of the most poignant part of the tour.
If you stay in Bayeux the Churchill Hotel seems to be the most highly recommended. We weren't able to get a reservation but it was our first choice. The tours leave right from there. On our last day in Bayeux, we took a tour of Mount St. Michel.
caseybrem is offline  
Oct 18th, 2010, 07:13 AM
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I also vote for the Memorial in Caen.
kerouac is offline  

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