WWII: Allieds March thru France

Old Jun 10th, 2002, 06:31 AM
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WWII: Allieds March thru France

Okay, here's the question. An idea has been rattling around my head (which is always dangerous) and I haven't done any research yet. It's just a rough idea. I've been thinking of following a path through France, from Normandy to Bastogne that would roughly follow the Allieds march during WWII. I know there's not just one route.
The main question is: Is there an interesting route to take, and, more importantly, will my wife enjoy the trip or is it all just "history" along the way? We like small villages - we've done the Cotswolds, done Provence and done Tuscany. So, we don't "need" the opulence of Cannes.
We like meeting the locals. We like countryside. But I think she'd like something more than just driving through some pasture land for ten days. In other words, we will be too far off the [tourist] beaten path?
Thanks all. [I will do my own specific homework, but I'd like to know everyone's thoughts as to whether this would make for an enjoyable vacation]
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 07:33 AM
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France is such an interesting country. We recently returned from Normandy. I can help with the Normandy portion of your trip.

I recommend staying in Bayeux. It was not damaged by the invasion and is only 10 kms from Omaha Beach. It is a nice little town (pop. 25,000).

The American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer should be visited by every American. Trust me, it is an emotional experience. The cemetery sits on a bluff above Omaha Beach. 9,387 Americans are buried here. There is a memorial to 1700 missing. On the hour the chimes softly play "My Country 'Tis of Thee".

For dining, try "Lion d'Or" in Bayeux. For your wife I am sure that there is also a weekly market. The Reine Mathile Tapisserie, the incredible record of William the Conquerer, can be seen in Bayeux. We stayed at the Chateau Bellefontaine, a great place in a rural setting.

We moved on to Honfleur--a nice Maine-like fishing village. It is only an hour east of Bayeux. The Cathedral of St. Catherine, an all-wood, 15th century structure is worth seeing. There is not much WW II history here-a good place for a one night, relaxing stay. Dine at L'Absinthe.

Paris is two hours drive from Honfleur. I am not just sure of the rest of your journey and not all that fanmiliar with northern France. I am sure, however, you will be able to carve out a path that will be interesting to you both.

Good luck.

Old Jun 10th, 2002, 07:44 AM
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This will be a very intersting tour...many have done similar, so you will find many books and guides by searching amazon etc. Don't leave out searching UK book sites too, it's a very popular travel topic there as well. I find that the Michelin guides give good info on both WW! and WW2 sites..check the area green guides and get a detailed map. The maps have battle site memorials, cemeteries and the guides have town specific history on their parts in the WWs. If I remember correctly, Michelin also produces a WW2 map of Normandy ??

Went to north of France 2 weekends ago, and while not specifically looking for WW 1 sites, we toured several battle fields in the Somme area, stopped at Vimy Memorial for Canadian Troops, the American memorial at Bellicourt and outside the town of Albert there were three memorials: South African, British and Canadian. We found these just by looking in the Green Guide. I am sure you would find a great deal of WW2 this way as well.

Most of the battles in WW2 occured near or in towns, so you won't be standing in fields all day..Rouen, Caen in Normandy come to mind. Most towns in France have a memorial, churches have rememberance tablets with lists of WW1 and WW2 dead (the lists of WW1 dead outnumber the WW2 by far...that was a bloody bloody war) and the major battle sites and areas will have museums/site markers etc. No matter which war, visit a cemetary and pay your respects.

One of the strangest places we saw that wekend was "the Blockhaus" in d'Eperleques (NE of St Omer) a huge concrete structure which was built by the Germans 1943-1944 (using the forced labor of 35,000 prisoners) to launch V2 rockets at England. Found it listed in the Michelin Flanders/Artois/Picardie.

Don't omit Belgium from the tour. The Battle of the Buldge towns such as Bastogne and Bullion offer tanks in the town squares and museums on the battles. Bastogne has the "Nuts" museum, this being the town where McAullif (sp?) uttered his famous rely to the German request for US troop surrender.

One last suggestion: Contact your local VFW or American Legion. I am sure many of the WW2 veteran members have either done a tour like that themselves or have been on a group tour to do the battle sites in France and throughout Europe. The normandy beaches in summer, especially, are full of vets returning to the landing sites and then on to the inland battle areas...for most it must be a combination of nostalgia, catharsis and rememberance of lost friends and commrads.

Hope this gives you a staring point..

Judy in Germany
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 08:03 AM
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And if you see a German, be sure to shoot him, just for old time's sake. It'll complete the effect.
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 08:05 AM
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Here's a site I've looked at
We're thinking of something along the same line for our January road trip
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 11:57 AM
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Thanks to Anthony, Judy and mj.
You've help me get started. Very much appreciated. The Fodors' gang is one of a kind!
Old Jun 12th, 2002, 04:34 PM
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I suggest you contact Paris Post #1 of the American Legion. It's at 22-24 Blvd. Diderot, near Gare de Lyon. If you want the telephone number, e-mail me. You might also want to visit American military cemeteries in the area you plan to see. Infomation about them is available from American Battle Monuments Comm. I think they have a website.
Much of the route from Normandy is marked with cement posts which, I think, say "Route de la Liberte."
My husband and I have done much of the routes you want to do and were impressed with all we saw. Residents in the area are most friendly to Americans and they -- unlike many Parisians -- remember and sincerely appreciate what our country did for them.
Old Jun 20th, 2002, 07:03 AM
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If you decide to follow the route of "Monty", the famous British general, you can WALK. Montgomery's failure to pick up the pace after the Normandy landings was a disaster.

Old Jun 21st, 2002, 03:55 AM
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Are you sure your wife wants a holiday where she looks on and you re-create the Allied march through France? Take my tip, the first person you see surrender and take her to the bar?

Bloody Men eh?
Old Jun 21st, 2002, 05:25 PM
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My sister and I drove throughout Normandy visiting the WWII sites. I, too recommend Bayeux, as well as St. Lo, Cherbourg, Alercon and St. Mere Eglise. We took our time and stopped at many small towns to view both WWI and WWII memorials. All of the cemeteries are moving. We were both in our twenties at the time and we enjoyed it very much.
Old Jun 21st, 2002, 08:10 PM
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You could start at Portsmouth(D-Day Museum) and then take the ferry from Southampton.
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