Paris to Normandy to Berlin - help!

Jan 21st, 2011, 11:18 AM
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Paris to Normandy to Berlin - help!

Some of you may know me from other threads recently on France and London postings, if so sorry for so many questions! But this is another part of a complicated trip. On 7/14 myself, 2 daughters and 2 sons in law will arrive in Paris for a 2 week total trip. This question regards my daughter and son who will then split off from us right away. They want to head to Normandy while still in France to see some D Day sites, then head for Berlin. We hope not to have to rent cars while there so will be depending on trains and buses. We have never traveled before so have no concept of how far apart everything us. If our plane arrives in CDG around 9am in the morning, (a) how would they get from there to Normandy and is it doable without a car, (2) how to get from there to Berlin? I am sure it cannot all be done in a day, I would not think they could get to Berlin at least until the end of the next day? Any advice for them? They will have to be back in Paris on Saturday the 22nd for him to fly back to the States and we will be going on to England.
Thank you!!
cbaird is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 12:14 PM
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IMO, trying to see the D-Day sights without a car on a very short timeframe is a waste.

I'm unclear exactly what your itinerary is, but it sounds like you have only 7 days that are not impacted by arrival and departure flights and at least part of your group hopes to see Paris, D-Day sights, Berlin and Paris again (for departure). Just IMO, but that's too much moving around. I'd skip Berlin, and I'd rent a car for the time in Normandy.
Jean is online now  
Jan 21st, 2011, 03:17 PM
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PLEEEAAAAASSSSEEEE get a map!!!! And some guidebooks. Or at least learn to google things - like, for example, distance Paris Berlin.

Honestly, you can't expect people to keep responding to threads when you clearly haven't done even basic research into, say, where Normandy is in relation to Berlin.

If for some reason YOU can't deal with maps, get those DDs and SILs to do it. If they're married, they're plenty old enough to do some planning and they certainly must know how to use the internet.

Brief answers to your specific questions:

NO, you can't "see" Normandy the day you arrive in Paris, and you can't see it well without a car.

Arriving in Paris day 1, visiting Normandy the rest of that day, then moving on to Berlin by the end of day 2 - if you could even do it - is utter insanity.

It's homework time.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 04:54 PM
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Agree that you need to get:

1) a couple of guide books to the places you want to see
2) a map of France and Germany
3) look at website - which gives you distance and time for driving from one place to another
4) check out, the Germnan rail site, which is the best for train routes and schedules

Just to give you a clue - to get from Bayeaux to Berlin by train will take approximately 14 to 16 hours - with 2 or 3 changes of train. So - that would mean, leaving the airport (yes, in a car or you will waste much more time getting to the train station, from there to Normandy, then rent a car to drive around the beaches. You will arrive well after lunch and have a couple of hours to see things - yes by car - and will need more time the next day and then arrive at a major train station, drop you car and hop a train for a 14 to 16 hour train trip to Berlin - where they will have to turn around and return to Paris. Another option is to look for low cost air - but then they would have to get to the airport, hope there are late afternoon flights - and they land not too far from Berlin - where they can spend the night then head backto Paris.

In the very limited time you have they should stay in Paris. If someone really wants to visit the Normandy beaches and see anything of the area they need to rent a car and spend 2 days and a night there.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 06:24 PM
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Just to give you an idea of how complicated and unrealistic the suggested route timing for your son-in-laws planned visit is;

Paris - St. Lazare station to Caen is about 2 hours by train. Plan on 2-3 hours from landing in CDG to hitting St Lazare station. From Caen it's about 50 km to Omaha Beach. I have no idea if the train goes nearer than Caen, but budget 1.5 hours for a bus and connection. That means to get to Omaha Beach would take about 6.5 hours if all three connections went perfectly.

Now, from Omaha Beach to Berlin is 1.5 hours back to Caen including connecting with a train that would start your 12 hour train trip to Berlin, including 2 or 3 changes.

That's about 20 hours of travel and connection time before even stopping to visit anything.

If they decide this makes sense only if driving, that would be about 16 hours of driving, before any time to visit anything, under perfect conditions.
Aramis is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 04:46 AM
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Thank you all for your very helpful information. Since I found out we were taking this trip only a few days ago, I have purchased guide books and maps and am trying hard to understand travel times, it is difficult coming from a part of the US with no mass transit and being so car oriented to understand the timeframe for connections, etc., but I am learning. It is a great help from all of you who have done this to give us concrete advice and I thank you. Since Normandy is quite important to them, they have decided to eliminate Berlin, stay in Paris for more time and arrange a Normandy tour, and then hopefully go from Paris to Munich for 3-4 days. So we are working on that plan right now, I just feel some pressure to figure out the airfare and the Paris lodging part, as with the Tour being there things seem to be filling up fast.

And StCirq, I just have to say I do not understand why you have to be so rude in your post. I certainly expect and understand to be corrected when I am making incorrect assumptions, but to imply that I cannot read a map because I am too old (53) and should let my children do it for me! And that I am not trying to do the homework, while I do have one full time and 2 part time jobs, there is just no reason to be rude and condescending in a post where I am just eager and trying to get helpful feedback. If it is too annoying to you then please just do not answer.
cbaird is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2011, 04:56 AM
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cbaird - can you post your total itinerary organized by nights - showing what city you are staying in? You have several threads going and its difficult to give good advice when we dont know where you are coming from our where exactly you are trying to get to. Its easier for us when we can see the total picture.

jamikins is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 05:29 AM
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Jamikins, I have been posting my itinerary as it evolves on the France thread so I hate to drive everyone crazy on this one by doing it again. I thought I would end this thread by saying that I think we have this part worked out, my daughter and SIL are doing a tour of Normandy while staying in Paris for a few days up front, then heading to Munich for 6 days and cutting out Berlin altogether. So we are all trying to simplify our plans which I am sure is a good thing. Thank you for your help!
cbaird is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 07:41 AM
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I have rung in on a couple of your threads and hopefully with some helpful advice. I think StCirq's point is that you should do the initial basic research on your own and then post here for specifics, which is a position with which I agree. If your time is limited (and except for the old buggers on this board who receive their living allowances from the state, that's true for all of us), tell the kids to help mom out -- they have to be good for something, right? ;-)

That said, your D and SIL need to figure out for themselves how in the h*ll they expect to land at that international embarrassment of an airport at 9, clear customs, grab their stuff and get to Normandy (2.5-3 hour drive, plus lunch time) to tour the beaches before just about everything closes up. Cars in France drive on the correct side of the road and the highways are good, so an aversion to renting a car is self-defeating. If you or the others get a car, be sure to get a diesel (about 20-30 eurocents cheaper than petrol per liter -- which saves about $1 - $1.35 per gallon), and determine where you can return the car on the outside of Paris in an area accessible to public transport so you can take a train into town and your hotel.

As for a straight Normandy-Berlin trip by train -- that's just a waste of time as the others said above.

And do NOT underestimate the level of crapholeness of Charles de Gaulle International Airport. It is a nightmare.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:12 PM
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You're a little late Russ - the issue was decided days ago.
Aramis is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 06:39 PM
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Hi BigRuss, yes your posts have been great advice, thank you! I am sorry to hear that CDG Airport is a craphole! I have only flown a few times in my life within the US and I absolutely hate it, just want to get it over with.

If you see my post just above yours I have clarified what we decided to do which is hopefully simpler.Thank you for touching base with me again.
cbaird is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 01:14 AM
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Normandy is a BIG place and very rural. You lose one day getting there. The 13.45hrs train will get you to Caen roughly 2 hrs later. You then need at least a day to see some of the D-Day Beaches and Battlefields before heading back the day after. This takes up 3 days. However there is no public transport to see the Beaches. And, unknown/not realised by most; the D-Day Beaches stretch for over 55 miles!
There are those who will come out from Paris do a tour and return the same day. It is a waste of time and effort. And very fatiguing.
How do I know? I organise and run small group tours in Normandy. But, not to be accused of advertising by the 'thought police' and the 'politically correct'I will only point you to Google. Type in 'Normandy' or 'Normandy Tours' and a host of options will come up. Some are just day tours starting and finishing at one spot in Normandy so you have to get there first. Others are tours over a few days where you are picked-up and dropped-off at the station and accommodation etc is all organised. Whatever option you choose, you will need to allow the very minimum of 3 days including travelling to and from Normandy.
You need to decide what are your priorities; Berlin or Normandy. Do one properly and come back another time for the other.
Oh! By the way: the 14th July is Bastille Day a National Holiday. Transport could be difficult.
Rodof is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 03:11 AM
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They ARE going to do a day tour from Paris.
Gretchen is offline  
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