Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Which tour of the D-Day Beaches did you take?

Which tour of the D-Day Beaches did you take?

Jul 10th, 2001, 04:15 PM
  #1  
MarkJ
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Which tour of the D-Day Beaches did you take?

Will be in Bayeux in October and would like to take a guided tour of the Normand D-Day beaches. I have read a number of the posts on this boad about various tours, but I'd like to hear from those of you who have taken a tour to get your opinion of the tour you took.

Thanks
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 04:22 PM
  #2  
mimi taylor
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I think it is better to do it on your own ,when you see those hundred of crosses, it is heart renching. The photo I took was ironically the same angle in SAVING SRGT RYAN. To walk the beach, unhurried and see where our countrymen fought is a truly..I can't even think of a word I want to use.
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 04:46 PM
  #3  
elvira
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
If you have a car, you can do the D-Day beaches without a guide. Find a map of the invasion (michelin had one a couple of years ago) to get an idea where everything happened, then just visit on your own.

If you don't have a car, you will need to be driven to the beaches (they are not near a train station). Opposite the train station is the hotel de gare, and Normandy Tours. Jean-Marc Bacon (son of the hotel owner) is the owner; we used him several years ago - immaculate van, and M. Bacon speaks excellent English and is wealth of knowledge about the invasion.
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 04:53 PM
  #4  
StCirq
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I know you said you wanted to hear from people who'd taken a tour, but we got back last week from a trip that included two days based in Bayeux, spent mainly visiting WWII sites, all of which we did on our own, as we have done twice in the past. I'm not sure how much a guided tour could add to the experience - everything is clearly marked (usually in English as well as French, and often in other languages, too). The Mémorial Museum in Caen is simply astounding and absorbed us for more than 3 hours, and a guide would have been superfluous there. And at the beaches and the cemetery, I don't think I would want to have been ushered from place to place or asked to move on to another venue - just gazing over the landscape and absorbing the geography and imagining the carnage and chaos sufficed to give us a hugely memorable experience. In fact, at the American cemetery I thought the guided tours were somewhat annoying - interfering with the solemnity of the place. Just my opinion, and I realize I haven't answered your question. I've heard that Colonel Chilcott gives an amazing, if biased, 10-hour tour of the area. And if I can offer a tip - the restaurants on the main pedestrian drag in Bayeux (which is, by the way, a thoroughly enchanting town)are to be avoided. Try Le Petit Normand, facing the town hall.
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 05:01 PM
  #5  
Tammy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I fully agree with the above posters. Visiting Omaha Beach, the American cemetary, and Point du Hoc needs no explanation, at least that's what I thought and the quiet is welcoming. If at all possible, try to do it on your own, you won't be sorry. Also, visit the Mulberries in nearby Arromaches. While in Bayeux, make sure and go to Tapestry museum.
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 05:47 PM
  #6  
MarkJ
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks Mimi, Elvira, StCirq and Tammy, for your response. If we rent a car, how difficult is it to find the invasion sites from Bayeux (and to get from one site to the next)? My wife is a bit nervous about renting a car, we really don't speak French and she's worried if we get lost (I'm no human GPS) or have problems we'll have trouble dealing with the language barrier, so, how difficult is it to drive in this area?

I would like to hear from others who have either driven the or taken a guided tour of the invasion sites.

Thanks
 
Jul 10th, 2001, 05:54 PM
  #7  
StCirq
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mark:

It couldn't be easier to navigate your way around this region. The signs are plentiful and easy to follow. Essentially, you're following the coastline, and every place there is a monument or historic place, there are copious signs. The roads are narrow and traffic relatively slow, so there's no need to worry about missing exits. Get yourself the Michelin map of Normandy and ask at your hotel and you'll easily be able to find everything. If in doubt follow the signs that say Overlord (the name for the entire campaign). Really, it's a breeze.
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 12:13 AM
  #8  
Melissa
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We started at the museum, and signed up for one of the minivan tours from the museum itself. I liked it because it was intimate (only 4 of us plus the guide) and she could talk about the area and all kinds of things on our way out to the beaches. I think it adds to the trip to have a tour....not the big tour bus type, but a small one like the one we had.
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 04:03 AM
  #9  
jhm
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We also went by ourselves and found it profoundly moving. The memorial museum mentioned earlier in Caen was extensive and extremely educational, and really rounded out our experience. If you can, before going, try to rent the movie Les Miserables -- not the more conventional musical/Victor Hugo novel, but rather, a Jean Paul Belmondo French film released in the late 1990s which tells the story of Les Miserables set during World War II. This description doesn't do it justice, but I found that having seen the film, I appreciated my trip through Normandy that much more.

Have a wonderful trip.
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 05:42 AM
  #10  
Ruth
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We stayed in Bayeux last year and drove ourselves to the American beaches. It was no problem and we don't speak French beyond a very few basic phrases, such as do you speak english? It was a truly memorable experience.
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 06:25 AM
  #11  
Tammy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
No problem at all driving around the area. Like StCirq said, get the Michelin map of the area, can't remember the exact number of the map, take a good guide book, and enjoy the day. I don't know if it was just me, but I did keep missing roads. It seemed like the road sign to turn was immediately after the road and not immediately before the road. After a couple of missed turns, we figured it out. Because of missing a few turns we saw some beautiful countryside that we otherwise would have missed. You'll have a wonderful trip!
 
Jul 11th, 2001, 06:35 AM
  #12  
herself
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Mark,
You can pick up a map at the Memorial Museum in Caen. No problem driving, although I did go in circles a few times. I needed to sit and absorb the sites. I don't think I would have been too patient with someone explaining what I was seeing. Mere St. Eglise has posters on each street corner with pictures of what it looked like during the invasion. Rent the "Longest Day" before you go.
 
Jul 13th, 2001, 03:40 AM
  #13  
MarkJ
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Again thanks to all who have replied so far. I am now leaning towards renating a car and and doing the beaches on our own. We will only have one day for the D-Day beaches (not enough I know, but it will have to do, until we can get back and dedicate two or three days). My idea so far is to take the train to Caen in the morning (we'll be staying in Bayeux) visit the museum then pick up our car and head out. Obviously we will not be able to see everything but could we make it to Ste. Mere Eglise with stops along the way and then back to Caen in a day? Any driving suggestions are appreciated.
 
Jul 13th, 2001, 08:50 AM
  #14  
StCirq
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
If you are staying in Bayeux, why not pick up the rental car there? Ít's only a 15-minute drive to Caen, and one of the first exits off the main road takes you directly to the Mémorial Museum (which is nowhere near the train station). There's plenty of street parking right at the museum. I think your current plan will make you waste a large part of the day getting to Caen, getting your car, etc. - the museum alone will take you a minimum of two hours. From Caen you coudl then head straight north to the coast. Just drive west along the coast road and you will hit every site there is to see. I doubt you'll make it as far as Ste-Mère-Eglise in one day, though, given that at each of the major beaches, and the cemetery, you'll want to get out and spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
 
Jul 13th, 2001, 02:13 PM
  #15  
Bob
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
My wife and I just returned from two weeks in France. We rented a car at CDG and drove to Bayeux. From research on Fodor's site, we decided to stay with Lt. Col. Chilcott and his wife who run a bed and breadfast in a 400+ year old compound that once was the home for the Dean's of the Cathedral of Bayeux. The Col. is retired from the British military and was in the service June 6, 1944 although he didn't make the invasion. He is a walking anthology on the invasion. We accompanied the Col. with two other couples in his van. We began with an overview of maps of the beaches in his map room and then from 10 AM until 8 PM we visited the British Cemetery in Bayeux, the German Cemetery outside of town somewhere, Pont du Hoc, several gun emplacements, Omaha Beach and of course the American Cemetery. We could have found most of these sights ourselves but Col. Chilcott's maps, first hand knowledge, stories of small battles that occurred that day and accounts from actual participants that he has met made the visit unforgetable. Interestingly enough, when we arrived, a couple from California had just returned from a tour with the Col. and we discovered that he had landed in the first wave with the 115th and hadn't been back since 1944.

Any "tour" is only as good as the guide and as you can tell by my email, we couldn't have more lucky than to have found the Col. both to stay with and have him show us the battle fields. I wish we could have stayed another day to do Utah Beach and that side of the Normandie landings. I don't have the Col's. email address at present but will be happy to pass it along if you like. Can't wait to return and see the rest of the area. By the way the cost of the tour including lunch for the Col. and his fuel was about $100 US per couple and worth twice the price ( but don't tell him that!)
 
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
maryhks
Europe
17
May 11th, 2014 02:07 AM
LN
Europe
18
Oct 6th, 2010 02:24 PM
emvic
Europe
15
May 9th, 2006 07:36 AM
bob65
Europe
5
Feb 24th, 2004 06:15 AM
violagirl
Europe
9
Apr 17th, 2003 06:49 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:28 PM.