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Audio Guides

UK
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Audio Guides

Good afternoon all,

After several years of trying I have finally got my family to agree to a holiday in Normandy in August of this year. I will probably only be a allowed a day or two to visit the D-Day related areas and, as we will have our own car, I quite like the idea of a self drive audio guide. I have found one at normandy-tour-guide.cpmac.com/audio-d-day.php which I am presuming is by the same person who posts as cpmac on these forums. Is that correct and do any unbiased members have any other suggestions :-)

Many thanks

Leigh

Belfast
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1. Re: Audio Guides

Yes it is the same person that posts but like any good TA regular he does not push his services and he should be respected for that

It seems, as a non expert but someone in a similar boat, that you have three basic choices with regard to the D-day landing areas

(a) Expensive but I would imagine the most interesting is to join a guided tour - as you will see on the main TA forum there are quite a few people doing this - by public TA vote, Battlebus would seem the best and there are full details on their website - the daily rate is 85 euro per person

(b) Less expensive is an Audio Guide - 25 euro seems about the going rate but they do not attempt to cover everything and I suggest you check carefully that their content matches what you want to see

(c) Cheapest is DIY - you MUST have a car and you need to do some research in advance - get a good map and plan your route - don't try and do too much in the time available - for instance I will only have one full day on the landings and have limited my plans to the eastern beaches and other main battlesights of the British, Commonwealth and Free French forces on or around D-day. Even this will be a very full day

It seems sensible to factor in at least one of the many good museums and I would be interested in what others thought was the most informative whilst recognising that they all have something different to offer.

Finally whatever choice you make I recommend you acquire a detailed guidebook in advance - the Holts guide to the D-Day landings seems to be generally considered as the best. If you can't manage that then try watching The Longest Day, still IMO the best film made about the Normandy landings

St Louet sur Vire...
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for Bayeux
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2. Re: Audio Guides

Before we lived in Normandy we always came here and did the beaches ourselves and were perfectly happy. I have always continued to advocate this as the best option. However, we were fortunate enough to live in SE England and came here on 5 day breaks quite frequently so were able to spend the time visiting the D-Day sites and museums. If you do only have one or two days I believe the tours would probably be a good option.

However, I think, from a personal point of view, some background reading, (stephen Ambrose is good, as well as Max Hastings' Overlord and Six Armies in Normandy, I forget the author, and of course Major and Mrs Holt's Battlefield Guide) and an audio guide would seem to me the best of both worlds. That way you can spend as long or short a time at each place as you would like.

A prime example of this is the lady who is currently staying with us. She did the Battlebus tour, thought it was great but has since (because she has the time available) backtracked and revisited places that she didn't feel she was given enough time to visit during the tour.

As far as museums go, I would recommend the Airborne Museum at Ste Mere Eglise as one of the best from the US perspective and the Pegasus Bridge museum (especially if you can catch one of the tours by the curator, Mark Worthington) as the best from the British perspective.

Edited: 17 May 2010, 21:21
UK
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3. Re: Audio Guides

Many thanks for your answers. I've read the books (except Major Holt's) and seen the films so I've got a good grounding.

Ohio, USA
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4. Re: Audio Guides

Thiaumerie -

I am inclined to agree with you that people who have read the books you suggest (and there are other excellent titles including Antony Beevor's recently published D-day: The Battle for Normandy) and studied a map and a good guidebook are well prepared for a DIY visit to the landing beaches and the other related WW2 sites. Unfortunately, witness the current thread reminding us that Normandy and Omaha beach are not interchangeable terms, the vast majority of posters on these forums who want to visit the beaches have done none of the above. Indeed I often wonder if any of them have done any more in terms of research than watch Private Ryan, if that...

I have even seen posts from people who apparently escort groups of tourists to France that get the geography completely wrong, mis-identify the different landing areas, and are apparently unaware that the US forces did not land on Gold, Juno and Sword.

Bayeux, France
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for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
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5. Re: Audio Guides

to paratranslate a normandy phrase, I think Thiaumerie would jump from her hinges if I suggested that visitors would be just as well off in a shipping container parked in a field with a bunk bed and a two ring cooker as in a B&B. As well the obvious differences I'm sure she' knows of a myriad of things she has to do to provide a happy stay for her guests that a non B&B proprietor would never imagine.

The same applies to a DIY visit and a guided tour of the d-day beaches. The person who does a DIY tour can't compare their tour with a guided tour, whereas the person who does take a guided tour often imagines what it would have been like otherwise. I often hear comments like "We'd never have found half these places on our own." "We'd have seen two or three sites and not known what we were looking at". "I wasn't too hot about seeing the d-day sites but it's been great" "Our visit to normandy was the highlight of our european tour"

I don't think a DIY tour would win over a unenthusiastic wife, or be the highlight of a european tour.

And if reading a bit and then driving round is the same as a guided tour I wonder why I'm KO after a day's tour.

Belfast
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6. Re: Audio Guides

you pay your money and you take your choice

wouldn't life be boring if their was only one way to do anything

I am reading away and not just on d-day - I love to plan in advance and then allow my wife to insist we do something else all together

Bayeux, France
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7. Re: Audio Guides

You're right, that people have a choice and are free to do what they wish. but this is a forum giving advice to travellers and I think it's a disservice to the one off first time traveller to let them think they can do it on their own AND be happy about the visit afterwards.

I've met (virtually on specialised forums) people that can do visits on their own. They have already been here and they study the battle of Normandy as their first passion. They ask questions like "where exactly did this action take place", or "what happened to So ans So after wards". I often learn things from such questions and the answers given.

I've also taken people round the beaches who have read Ambrose , Beevor, and Bradley and many other books. They are still amazed at the scale of the zone and the complexity of the operation, and would have been at a loss to do it on their own.

Edited: 23 May 2010, 09:56
Belfast
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8. Re: Audio Guides

I take your point cp mac

I suppose it depends on just how important it is to you as part of a holiday and whether you will have the chance to visit the area again. We tour a part of France for a week or so every other year and have been lucky enough to visit parts of Normandy before such as Rouen, Etretat, Giverny and MSM. This time we intend to spend at least one day (out of ten) dedicated to the D-day beaches but we also have lots of other things to see and do - the Bayeux tapestry and Musee de Beaux-Arts in Caen being just two examples . So for me, who has an interest rather than a passion in the D-day landings, all I want is to get a sense of some of the events and places with the definite possibility of a re-visit if I felt I wanted to.

Even for this level I believe that I will benefit from some pre-reading and an advance decision to try and not do too much. I am sure a guided tour or an audio tour would also be of benefit but first time out I shall try a DIY approach.

We want to tour Normandy and not just the D-day landings or subsequent battlefields - after all it was you cp mac who says Omaha beach is not Normandy !

Continued thanks for all your good advice

St Louet sur Vire...
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for Bayeux
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9. Re: Audio Guides

I agree with Belfast Taxman, each to his own. Even if Ihad ony ever been here once I would have done it on my own. And if you have done your background reading you can get as much out of it. My husband has done a tour more laterly and doesn't feel he got any more from it than having done it on his own and many of our guests (most in fact) are keen WW2 buffs, do it on their own and are more than happy (of course you have to take into account the ability of the tour guide to not only be knowledgable, but to be able to put the information across in an interesting way. It's like the difference in learning, as to whether you have a good teacher or a bad one, they know their stuff but can they hold your interest enough for you to take it in) Horses for courses.

And as for cpmac's point about people being happy in a shipping container with a 2 ring burner, well isn't that what camping's all about. Many people would hate to stay in a B&B - yet again, each to his own and this forum, in order to be unbiased and useful has to show that it is possible to do things in more than one way. We can only give our opinions and then leave it to the traveller top decide which option they think best suits them.

Edited: 24 May 2010, 07:23
Bayeux, France
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10. Re: Audio Guides

I think Tjiaumerie and I must agree to dissagree on this subject.