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Still another Normandy question

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Oct 6th, 2015, 12:53 AM
  #1
mjs
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Still another Normandy question

I have just read through about ten pages of forum postings on Normandy and still have not quite figured out how to tour the area. Coming from Rome in the morning of October 22 and have the 22/23/24 and part of the 25th to tour the area before heading back to Paris 25/26. Wish to see the D day sights, Mt St Michel, Caen, Bayeux and possibly Honfleur. Options include renting a car at Orly and drive to Bayeaux and base ourselves there, can take D day tours from there and day trips to Caen and MT St Michel and possibly Honfleur than returning the car to Orly and back to Paris. Would it cost much to just drop the car off in Caen or Bayeux and take the train back to the city? Another option would be to take a taxi from Orly to St Lazare and taking a train out to Caen and rent a car there, drop off our belongings in the car while doing the museum than on to Bayeux.. Still another option would be just to train the Bayeux and do tours with renting a car only for Honfleur and possibly St Michel. Any thoughts and advise welcome.
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Oct 6th, 2015, 04:48 AM
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I think the easiest is to rent the car at Orly and drive to Bayeux. We did our return from Bayeux this way and it is an easy drive. We stopped in Chartres before getting to Orly.
Bayeux is a good base. Whether you have "goo" time for all your destinations is a little iffy--Honfleur might be the outlier although you could do it on the way back to Paris.
You can probably drop the car at Caen and train back to Paris.
We were in Normandy for 6 days (did Rouen, Honfleur and the beaches) but didn't make it to MSM.
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Oct 6th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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You have two full days, Oct. 23rd and 24th. If you want to visit both the Peace Memorial (museum) in Caen and the Bayeux Tapestry in addition to the landing beaches, a cemetery or two, other D-Day sights and museums, I don't think you have time for an excursion to MSM (more than 90 minutes each way).

I would rent the car at Orly. Drive to Bayeux and back to Paris via Honfleur or Caen. If it's raining on the 22nd, I'd go via Caen and stop at the museum. If it's not, I'd go via Honfleur and stop in Caen on the way back to Paris on the 25th. Either way/direction, you'll be passing by Giverny.
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Oct 6th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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I think you have enough time if you are satisfied with devoting one day to the beaches and a cemetery, and D-Day stuff, and the second day to Mont St Michel. Don't know how you could find in Honfleur, I guess if you went there the morning of the day you were leaving, though. You could easily see the Bayeux tapestry and anything else in Bayeux in one afternoon, the day you arrive. It's just a tapestry, after all, and that place is open until 6 pm. I don't believe I could have spent over an hour there.
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Oct 6th, 2015, 11:13 AM
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I'd train to Caen on the 22nd, rent a car across the street, drive to the Peace Museum immediately after getting car, then head to Bayeux for the evening. The 23rd I'd see the tapestry, head to MSM, and visit there. Once done at MSM, depending upon the time, I'd return back towards Bayeux, taking in say Pointe du Hoc for the late afternoon for a beginning of D-day Omaha stuff. Then head into Bayeux for evening. The 24th, early trek up to the for the morning. After MSM, I'd head to the American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer, then move east along the beach area highway (I think it's 504) and stop for lunch in Port-en-Bessin. Then move towards Arromanches and the other sites. Finishing up in Bayeux again. The last day I would finish up D-day stuff in the morning, return the car to Caen and train back to Paris.

IMO, Caen has basically one really interesting site, the Peace Museum, and the rest of it was bombed to nothing in June-July 1945, so most of it is new and generally uninteresting. Bayeux was spared the destruction and has plenty of interesting stuff.

Given your time constraints, visiting Honfleur and MSM is going to be difficult since they are both at the opposite ends of the area MSM is 90 minutes from Bayeux, and Honfleur is 70 minutes.

Also, the daylight hours will be limited, so leaving early from the hotel to arrive at openings would be best.

Good luck and enjoy.
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Oct 6th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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Well, that's one vote for every option. Our timing was similar to Gretchen's trip. We spent 3 days just on Bayeux, Peace Memorial and D-Day sights.

I wouldn't choose the train to Caen option. Plane, taxi, train, car is at least one too many for me. But if it was raining cats and dogs, I might like not having to drive far that day.
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Oct 6th, 2015, 06:51 PM
  #7
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"You could easily see the Bayeux tapestry and anything else in Bayeux in one afternoon, the day you arrive. It's just a tapestry, after all, and that place is open until 6 pm. I don't believe I could have spent over an hour there."

I spent 1.5 hours with the tapestry, and could easily have spent more. To each his her own!


Welcome, mjs, to the differences among travelers! What worked for any one of us is just that -- what worked given OUR unique interests and preferences and paces. The hardest part of planning any trip, IME, is figuring out what is most likely to work for me. The good news is that you don't have a bad choice here -- just some difficult ones.

If its of any help, Mont St. Michele can be a bit of an unpleasantly paced zoo during the day. Given the distances involved, it might be worth deferring for now. Just a thought!
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Oct 6th, 2015, 10:47 PM
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We took train Paris to Rouen, rented the car there. Stayed near Bayeaux in Crepon. Drove to Bayeaux and took the daylong d day tour with Overlord Tours( great, by the way) spent another night in Crepon before heading to MSM where we spent the night on the island. Then on to Honfleur for a night before returning car to Rouén.
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Oct 7th, 2015, 07:26 AM
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I will point out that taking the train to anywhere requires getting to Gare St. Lazare (I think) from either airport--just more time lost for not much benefit, IMO.
As for the Tapestry, I agree it is worth much more than an hour, but also as said, to each his own.
The way I might count the days is drive to Bayeux from Orly and see the tapestry on the 22nd. It might even be possible to stop in Chartres for lunch and the cathedral.
We did the beaches on our own, using the Michelin Green Guide over a couple of days.
Bayeux has a wonderful restaurant--Le Petit Bistro--the best place we ate in France that trip.
Depending on how MSM sorts out (we didn't, as I said), you can return to Paris (CDG) (or Caen) to turn the car in via Honfleur. We did it in reverse with Giverney, Rouen, Honfleur and then Bayeux.
There is much to enjoy in the Caen/Honfleur area with cideries and fromageries.
I will also suggest that for the beaches, the priority I'd do is Omaha, Ponte du Hoc, Arromanches, the American cemetery. We also went up to St. Mere Eglise. These are the American beaches--there are innumerable small roadside "museums", but after the major ones, there gets to be a lot of repetition. Ponte du Hoc and Arromanches are particularly unique for their importance for the bridgehead.
Do get the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy.
We stayed at the Hotel Bayeux, a very economical squeaky clean hotel near the Cathedral, Tapestry with a secure car park. Large rooms.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 12:50 AM
  #10
mjs
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Thanks for the advice. I was hoping for a more uniform response but this is all helpful. Have booked the Churchill hotel for 3 nights. Renting a car at Orly with drop off in Bayeux for a midsize Auto about $250. Wonder what GPS costs or should I just buy a unit at home and bring it. No auto cars in Bayeux or Caen as far as I can see. I can drive a stick but my daughter cannot and I want her to learn how to drive in Europe. Appreciate any other thoughts.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 04:40 AM
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The hotel I recommended is on the edge of town--but as said, close to the cathedral and tapestry. You can drive straight out of town easily. I will admit we did not even go into the center of Bayeux.
I would still get a map. As said on another thread about a GPS, it gets you from point A to B but then you may miss a little cute ville just off of the route.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 08:21 AM
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If you think you'll be making future trips involving driving or if you have a car at home that doesn't have a nav system, consider buying a Garmin or Tomtom before you go. We bought one new on eBay at a good price. You could always sell it used when you get home, but we've also loaned ours to friends for their trips.

"... but then you may miss a little cute ville just off of the route."

Actually, our experience with GPS has been the opposite. Since there's never a concern about getting lost, random detours are more tempting. We do take paper maps for general planning, and if we see something interesting on the map or encounter an intriguing road sign along the way, we don't hesitate to follow our curiosity.
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Oct 8th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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I can see that, but, what if just up the road from your random visit, there is a sign to an even MORe inviting place and now you're pressed for time to get to the hotel.
I love maps for seeing the whole picture that might be possible between A and B. For instance, when we were driving from Honfleur to Bayeux, we found the ciderie in one town and the fromagerie in another, etc.
And it is also the reason i like the Green Guide--because it told me about these.
In other words, one doesn't negate the other at least for me.
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Oct 13th, 2015, 08:34 PM
  #14
mjs
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My plans continue to evolve. Currently flying into Orly at 0900 on the 22nd from FCO after 5 nights in Rome. Picking up a Peugeot 208 for two people. Considering a Peugeot 508 which is larger for $40 more for the three days but a smaller size may make parking easier. Drive to Bayeux and check into hotel. Could stop at Chartes on the way but don't like the idea of leaving luggage in car. Booked at Churchill but considering D'Argouges for less money and easier parking. Hope to be in Bayeux by 1300 and will have lunch and than perhaps drive/train to Caen to see the museum, than return to Bayeux to see the Tapestries if we have enough time. Going on the Overlords full day D day tour on the 23rd. Planning on Mt St. Michel or perhaps Honfleur on the 24. I am unsure about the next bit. We could stay overnight on the 24th and return the car the next morning, than see the Tapestries , than train to Paris. Alternatively we could leave Bayeux on the night of the 24th and train to Paris which would than give us 3 nights and 2 days in Paris instead of 2 nights and one day. (I have been to Paris over 25 times and my daughter has been 4 times) One more option would be to keep the car an extra day and drive around somewhere around Bayeux and drop the car off around 5pm and train to Paris.
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Oct 13th, 2015, 08:47 PM
  #15
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"see the Tapestries if we have enough time."

The Bayeux Tapestry is, IMO, breathtakingly astounding. I can't imagine being anywhere near Bayeux and skipping it. YMMV.

"Planning on Mt St. Michel or perhaps Honfleur on the 24."

IMO, both are worth seeing, but Mont St. Michel can be SO unpleasantly PACKED during the day that you should, I think, take that into consideration as you plan.

"Alternatively we could leave Bayeux on the night of the 24th and train to Paris which would than give us 3 nights and 2 days in Paris instead of 2 nights and one day. (I have been to Paris over 25 times and my daughter has been 4 times)"

Much as I adore Paris, it sounds to me like you have a unique opportunity to see a bit more of Normandy. Why would you not take advantage of every minute you have in Normandy?

BTW, if you haven't already done so, you might consult the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy to learn more about your MANY options there!
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Oct 14th, 2015, 05:42 AM
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Much as I love Paris, you have done it and as said above, spend more time in Normandy.
I think your first day is a bit unrealistic time wise.
I'll repeat about the Hotel Bayeux.
We bailed on MSM--I have seen it (actually before the causeway). Just seemed more to do on the coast and we were there longer than you.
You must be leaving soon?
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Oct 14th, 2015, 11:05 AM
  #17
mjs
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Leaving early AM Friday for Rome. Have apartment near Spanish Steps. Have not been to Rome for about 15 years or Italy for about 10 years. Extended car rental for return in Bayeux until 5pm from 10AM and booked 5:37 train to Paris on the 25th. Have been to Paris many times because I did some of my studies in England many years ago and one tended to go through Paris to reach other parts on the Continent. Also tend to fly through either London or Paris on the way elsewhere so we often stop for a few days. Always something to do in Paris or London
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Oct 14th, 2015, 01:10 PM
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Would it cost much to just drop the car off in Caen or Bayeux and take the train back to the city?>

Train fare to Paris each way about 40-45 euros full price - 25 or so advance train-specific tickets that must be booked in stone long in advance to get those limited in number discounted fares - p.p. For lots on French trains check www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.
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Oct 14th, 2015, 02:07 PM
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You could also drive to Mont Saint Michel and then head over to nearby Rennes and return your car and take the bullet train TGV into Paris from Rennes, which is also a neat city to look around - the capital of Brittany.
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Oct 14th, 2015, 03:25 PM
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The last makes THE best sense
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