We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
38 posts
Save Topic
D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

My wife and I will be visiting some friends in Paris next summer and are thinking of taking one day to visit Normandy. Now we will be leaving from Paris that morning and coming back that night, so we are aware it's going to be ALOT of travel in one day, but we are on a very tight schedule. Our plan would be to take an early train from Paris (about a 2.5 hour ride?? correct me if I'm wrong). Then explore the beaches and any major sites for the afternoon and then head back later that night. My question is, does anyone have any recommendations on how we should go about exploring without using a tour guide? Such as: how do we get from the train station to the actual sites we visit? Any tips on the best sites we can use our time the best? Any other advice you would give on if exploring the sites by ourselves is do-able. I just would rather be on our own schedule than being with a tour. Thanks for the help!

Bellflower...
Level Contributor
5,053 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

Bonjour, denurt

It is possible to take day trips from Paris and also to take a train to Bayeux and pick up a 1/2 days tour without having to spend overnight.

The following link asked a similar question:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g676160-i22343-k47…

My husband and I went on our own while we were in Normandy, but from what I have read since then, tours are worthwhile with the added information that is provided. We drove to the Normandy-American Cemetery, walked down to Omaha Beach and then drove to Pointe du Hoc, which is just down the road from the cemetery.

This discussion also provides useful information:

tripadvisor.com/…34484759

Good luck with your planning,

MrsJAs

Essex
Level Contributor
27,626 posts
69 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

The best way to get around if doing a DIY trip is to rent a car and drive.

There are, apparently, several car rental agencies near the station in Caen, this is the long recommended place to rent a car for D-Day zone trips.

Bayeux, France
Destination Expert
for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
Level Contributor
3,364 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

You.d get to Caen at 9, you.d be ready to drive around 10. It takes around an hour to get out of Caen and to Omaha beach, so it's now 11. You'll see a sandy beach and some concrete blocks. Then where do you go, you.ve got over a hundred miles of driving to get to just the American sector sites. You need to be back by around 5 pm to get the car back.

You say the motivation for doing it on your own is not to be tied into a tour schedule. If cost is not a problem get picked up by a guide at Carentan at 9:37 and have a full day tour at your pace. Or take a hotel at Bayeux on the evening before and pay two minibus tours which will cost less. I'm sure you will appreciate even a minibus tour over just floundering around blind.

Le Bugue, France
Level Contributor
14,097 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

If as you say you're on a very tight schedule, your plan is the worst possible one among the various options. There is no public transportation to take you to the beaches and such along the coast, so it will have to be either a car rental, with the limitations already described, or a tour of some kind.

Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
38 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

Let me clarify..by "tight schedule" I mean we only have one day to get from Paris to Normandy, and then must return to Paris that night at some point....so we don't have the luxury of spending the night near the tour sites. Obviously cost of the tours are one of the main reasons I was seeing it was possible to get a good experience without having to drop all the money on the tours. But based on what I am reading, the only way to do it ourselves is to rent a car. So is there another option where if we take the train, that we can find our own tour guide that can give us an afternoon tour? If so, would a route like that save us money, or you recommend just booking an afternoon tour with one of the more well known companies such as Overload? Thanks for the help!

San Diego
Level Contributor
2,404 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

Hi denrut49,

Yes, to see the D-Day sites you do need a car (whether you rent it or hire a guide who has one.) The sites are too spread out and even if public transportation were available to some sites, the time factor would make it prohibitive for your circumstances.

The cheapest way to do the tour without renting a car is to go with an organization like Overlord; a private guide for two would be very expensive.

With Overlord and the like, though, it is not a huge group. We did a 1/2 day afternoon tour and there were only 6 people in the mini-van (our family of 4, plus two others.)

It is a bit of a trade-off in that we would have liked to stay at some places longer (no place a shorter amount of time, though) and see a couple more things - really it was an issue of doing the half-day versus full day. BUT, we would not have gotten to so many places on our own in the time we had, and would have had to do a lot of research to be able to fully understand what we were seeing. The guide was able to zip us from place to place, knowing exactly where to go, the speed limits on the roads, and hidden spots. One other thing we found invaluable was being able to talk to her about her family's experiences during the War and the enduring effects on her family and France in general.

HTH!

Edited: 17 November 2013, 19:12
Bayeux, France
Destination Expert
for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
Level Contributor
3,364 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

A half day mini bus tour for two will cost less than renting a car and you will get a tour.

Louisville, Kentucky
Level Contributor
5,226 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

As I was reading through the replies, my reaction was as cpmac just stated. I don't think renting a car will save you money over a half tour, and with some private guides, you provide the transportation, meaning you have the guide and the car rental cost. With larger parties, this is sometimes okay, but for two people, I'd say "not so much."

I would also recommend an Overlord half day tour.

www.overlordtour.com/overlordtour-tour-1.html

We've toured on our own and taken a guided tour, and you simply see more and learn more from a guide who makes Normandy their home. As mentioned earlier, these are minivan tours and you won't feel "herded" or rushed, but some of the tours that leave and return from Paris might feel that way and are more expensive than what you can book on your own. We would not have missed the experience of taking a guided tour, and I know we'll do it again. The tour has been one of our most memorable travel experiences, and I recommend that you treat yourself!

9. Re: D-Day Tour WITHOUT a guide

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 19 November 2014, 05:16