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Wher to Stay for Normandy Beaches and Castles?

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May 6th, 2013, 02:16 PM
  #1
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Wher to Stay for Normandy Beaches and Castles?

I will be spending three nights in Normandy with my wife and 10 year old son in late August. My uncle was shot on Normandy Beach during the invasion 3 times. He lived to a ripe age of 86. My wife and I visited Normanday 15 years ago. This time we are bringing along our 10 year old son. Some of the surrounding castles would be of interest to our 10 year old as well. After our stay in Normandy, we will be taking the train to Zurich. Is Caen the best place for us to stay? It appears there are guided tours with van pick up.. Is this the best way to see the landing beaches or would simply renting a car and going ourselves be better? Would it be better to stay elswhere? It appears Caen is an easy train access from Paris, where we will begin our trip. Moving to multiple hotels is usually not the best plan with a 10 year old. Any suggestions would be helpful.
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May 6th, 2013, 02:30 PM
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Bayeux, a smaller city than Caen and one of the few in the Cotentin Peninsula not decimated to bits in WW2 - like Caen was so Caen is not that old worldish like Bayeux - Bayeux has a famous cathedral and Queen Matilda' Tapestries woven just after and to document the Norman Invasion of England in 1066.

Bayeux has probably more mini-bus tours than even Caen does - Bayeux is just a few minute train ride from Caen - some direct trains from Paris-Saint-Lazare and some that require chnging in Caen.

Most folks will enjoy IMO Bayeux much more than modern bigger Caen.

For lots of detailed on European trains I always spotlight these IMO fantastic sites - www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - if you want to lock yourself into a cetain non-changeable and non-refundable trin weeks in advance you can try to score the limited in number discounted tickets - though on the Paris to Caen line the discount is rather limited I think - but from Paris to Zurich you could save a bundle - go to www.voyages-sncf.com - site of the French Railways. If doing much train travel in Switzerland itself then check out the Swiss Pass - even if there just a few days it could pay off - good on not only trains but lake boats, postal buses, city trams and buses and also gives free entry to 400+ Swiss museums - it also give 50% off on most expensive aerial gondolas to trains to mountain tops.
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May 6th, 2013, 02:33 PM
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I'd stay in Bayeux. And probably rent a car and do it yourself. I think a tour for a 10 year old will get old fast.
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May 6th, 2013, 02:39 PM
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I agree with Bayeux as well. And if your 10-year-old would like to STAY in a castle, check this out: http://www.hotel-bellefontaine.com/

Remarkably affordable, considering what it is, and the 10-year-old can play outside in the evenings. The castle at Fougères is, I believe, the largest in France. And the one in nearby Vitré is very pretty, but these aren't fairytale-etype castles, but medieval fortresses.

Can't help with tours, as I've always done it on my own, but be sure not to overlook the Mémorial museum in Caen even if you don't stay there.
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May 6th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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the tourist office in Bayeux books mini-bus tours on the spot or in advance - check out their site for a list of all tours. Leave the driving to the mini-bus driver - these are really narrow roads lined by the famous hedgerows that proved so impossible for Allied tanks to penetrate - not for the novice driver IMO. And the tours are a good deal - 1/2 tour would be enough to see the main sites like the Colville/s/Mer military cemetery and the main D-Day landing beaches poignantly located under it.
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May 6th, 2013, 03:48 PM
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YOu don't have to see every single back road. There is NO problem driving between the beach sites at all. Do not miss Arromanches. It is an amazing story all its own.
If you are there long enough go to St. Mere Eglise. Your 10 year old will enjoy that.
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May 6th, 2013, 03:49 PM
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We stayed in the Villa Lara last year. Very nice place. Also consider Hotel Churchill next door owned by the same people. Tours pick you up right outside their door.
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May 6th, 2013, 05:26 PM
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Driving around the D-Day beach areas is a breeze. You won't even see hedgerows if you stay on the obvious roads between D-Day sites, and the roads are very heavily traveled and not at all narrow. One of the easiest places to drive in all of France, actually.

I agree about Arromanches. Your 10-year-old would probably love swimming at the beach there between the bunkers - not something you come across often in the USA. The restaurant right on the beach (to the left as you face the water - I think it's called La Marine or something similar) is quite good, reasonable, and has nice views over the beach. And the small museum there is well worth a visit, too.
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May 7th, 2013, 07:43 AM
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I checked the web site of the Chateau de Fontaine as rec. Do I need a car to stay there? I plan to use the tour company for D-Day beaches. Can I walk to the centreville of Bayeux? I am planning a trip to Normandie next year. After arriving CDG, we will take a train straight to Bayeux.
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May 7th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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I second the recommendation of Fougeres as a great medieval castle. My kids and niece all loved exploring all the nooks and crannies.

We also did a self-drive tour beginning in Arromanches and ending at the American Cemetery. It was very easy and allowed us to have as much or as little time at each site as we wanted. It was also personal as my grandmother was a nurse in the army and arrived in Normandy in September 1944.

We plan on repeating this next year as my dad will be joining us on the trip and he wants to see the D-Day sites.
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May 7th, 2013, 09:18 AM
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<>

Are you referring to the Château de Bellefontaine? Yes, it's about a 5-minute walk into the town of Bayeux, even though it feels as though you're miles away in the countryside.
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