Normandy region

Jul 19th, 2005, 08:14 AM
  #1  
mrk
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Normandy region

We are planning on touring the Normandy region in a few weeks and need some advice.
We will be arriving in Caen from southern France on a Tues. at 1:00 and renting a car.
We were thinking of touring the museum there and possibly getting lunch. We need to check into our hotel in Bayeux by 6:00p.m. so I need advice on how to plan our stay.
Wednesday we will check out of the hotel tour the area and drive to Rouen and turn in the car by 6:00p.m. and catch the train at 8:00p.m.
Would you recommend our arranging a tour for the area or can we do this on our own and do we have enough time?
Our children are 15 & 18.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:20 AM
  #2  
rex
 
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I think you can "guide yourselves", but your timetable has an inherent requirement that you have to be selective.

I recommend Arromanches, perhaps Pointe du Hoc and the Anerican Cemetery at Colleville sur Mer.

Just curious, what kind of rate (for what kind of car?) did you get for this 29 hour rental?

Best wishes,

Rex
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:30 AM
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Hi mrk,
I guess it really depends upon what it is you want to see.
You have time when you arrive in Caen to see around the Caen and Bayeux area when you arrive. Although it will be a swift tour.
Next day your 160km journey to Rouen will probably take just under 2 hours or so, so you will have time to see some things again depending upon what it is you want to see.

Personally I would plan my route against what I want to see and go it alone.

But I'm sure others here will have some good suggestions..
Muck
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:31 AM
  #4  
mrk
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Rex,
The price of the car is included with our rail and drive package so I don't know the breakdown.
I have heard about the Overlord Tours and wondered if that was a good idea to do or with our schedule is it not recommeded.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:34 AM
  #5  
mrk
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If you see one beach have you seen them all or is one better than another?
Will we get the most out of the tour without having a veteran lead us?
Is the museum in Caen the best place to start?
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:37 AM
  #6  
 
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You don't have much time, given all there is to see, so you need to plan well. We spent almost 4 hours at the Mémorial Museum in Caen, so I'd have lunch on the train (buy sandwiches at the station before you get on - it's cheaper and better than train fare) to maximize your time on the ground. I'd visit the Mémorial Museum, then go to Bayeux and check out the tapestry and the cathedral and check into your hotel.
Wednesday I'd get up very early and drive to Pointe du Hoc and then retrace your steps along the beaches, visiting the American Cemetary and the museum at Arromanches before heading to Rouen.
There's no need to hook up with a tour. With a Michelin or other good guide, it's very easy to do on your own.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:39 AM
  #7  
rex
 
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With reference to the three places I mentioned... NO. Having seen one is not "seeing them all". Three different looks at courage, ingenuity, terror and solemnity.
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Jul 19th, 2005, 09:24 AM
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This is also on my 'someday' list. If one were touring on their own, and given my penchant for getting lost in construction zones, would two days be enough to allot for the D-day beaches, museums and cemeteries?
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Jul 19th, 2005, 10:07 AM
  #9  
rex
 
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<<would two days be enough to allot for the D-day beaches, museums and cemeteries?>>

Given "typical" time constraints, I'd say yes...

...problem is, that's only about 10% of the reasons to visit Normandy!

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Jul 19th, 2005, 12:16 PM
  #10  
mrk
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What are the other things one should do in Normandy?
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Jul 19th, 2005, 05:57 PM
  #11  
rex
 
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Well, it would fill a book, a website and more...

Until you can get to the library, let me suggest www.normandy-tourism.org

This is such a partial list:

Giverny/Vernon
Gisors/le Vexin
les Andelys
Camembert country
Suisse Normandie
Rouen
Etretat/Fecamp
Honfleur/Deauville
Villedieu-les-Poeles
Lisieux
Fougeres

and of course...

Mont St Michel (at the border of Normandy and Brittany)
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Jul 19th, 2005, 08:27 PM
  #12  
mrk
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Battlebus, Overlords, or Colonel Chilcott?
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Jul 20th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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Thanks Rex. I've been to Giverney and Les Andelys, but apparently would need to add in at least a day for Mont St. Michael. Actually, I didn't mean 'would two days be enough' for all of Normandy. I was just trying to decide if that would be enough to allot for the D-Day beaches and memorials.
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Jul 20th, 2005, 09:14 AM
  #14  
 
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Normandy is a charming and unique region, as Rex has outlined.
Agree with St.Cirq--get the Michelin Green Guide and choose several sites. I would do Arromanches (an AMAZING sight/plan), Pointe du Hoc, Omaha, and the American Cemetery.
I had previously never been consumed by the idea of seeing the beaches. I could not believe how exposed these men were on these beaches. It was horrific to think about. It will be an experience to see these.
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Jul 27th, 2005, 08:36 AM
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Some other ww2 sites to see whilst in the area would be easy if you follow the routes laid out and signposted.
Look out for signs "OVERLORD-L'ASSAUT"
This will take you from Bayeux to Port En Bessin (Wrecks from the sea Museum),

Longues-Sur Mer (Gun Battery),

Arromanches (360 degree cinema plus remains of the mulbery harbour),

Ver Sur-Mer (Gold Beach Museum),

Douvres La Delivrande (Radar Museum),

Ouistreham (Commando Museum),

Ranville-Benouville (Pegasus Bridge)

Merville-Franceville (Gun Battery museum)

Or you could follow "D-Day-Le Choc"
which has some of the places mentioned by other posters, all equally superb to do.
You don't have to do it all but mix n match some in with some of the other suggestions and you will have a great time.
A clearly defined route will save you time though.
Don't forget a torch some of the battery's are great to clamber round inside.

Muck
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Jul 27th, 2005, 09:27 AM
  #16  
 
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you've gotten some excellent info, but I'll add my small items:
We were at the Caen Museum 4 years ago as we ended an 8 day bike trip. We only had about 2 1/2 hrs, as I recall, and that was just not enough. Definitely utilize time to see the museum - it's amazing.
On an earlier visit for me, we also toured the Canadian cemetery, which I would have to say I found to be much more touching and human than the American (need I say that this surprised me???) For anyone who can find the time, a swing thru that cemetery is a beautiful and touching counterpoint - smaller of course, with flowers planted along each of the graves, and small sayings, psalms, greetings engraved on each headstone (not just who, how old, from where, but that mom misses them, for instance, and will meet again someday...)
Also, depending on when exactly you'll be there - Mont St Michel is so high on my list, but I've avoided it so far during my "school break for daughter" trips - I have heard such bad things about the crawling line of traffic approaching for several miles, for instance, that I'm leaving this for our first empty-nester, autumn trip (only 2 more years! hooray!).
Also, I would highly recommend the Bayeux tapestry - to see that war was war, with the same problems of deployment and damage to civilians, etc, most of a millennium ago was awfully moving to me.
Finally, eat dairy products!! They have all those glorious cows for good reason - love the cheeses of Normandy! (and, of course, calvados on the side!)
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Jul 27th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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And the tarte tatin with flaming calvados!
I think of the three trips I have perking in the back of my head, Normandy and Brittany will be the one I keep pushing at my husband--although it could be a few years. Still paying off that Provence splurge!
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Jul 27th, 2005, 10:04 AM
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We spent 4 days in the Normandy area earlier this month. We stopped at the museum in Caen and I think we spent almost 4 hours there. We saw the Bayeux tapestry, the cathedral, walked around the town, ate some wonderful meals, and took an all day tour with Roel Klinkhamer of Victory Tours. I have already said this on other threads, but we felt that it was money and time well-spent going on that tour. He knew the history and we could sit back and listen and absorb it while he drove. We made many stops...St Mere Eglise, Gold, Utah, Omaha beach, Longue-sur-Mer, Pointe du Hoc, The American Cemetary to name some, and I think the tour lasted over 9 hours. We came away feeling like we really understood what had happened there. There are 1/2 day tours as well.
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