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Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

SF
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Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

Hi,

I'm in the process of planning a trip to Europe this summer--Paris, Rome and Athens. My son, a WWII buff, wants to go to Normandy so am trying to figure out the logistics for a day trip.

My questions are:

1. Should we focus on a America-centric tour or go for a generic one that is more Allied-focused?

2. Is it better to sign up for a tour group or hire one of those private tour guides?

3. If we are short on time, which landmarks should we focus on?

Any tips on do's and don'ts will be appreciated. Thanks.

Bellflower...
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1. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

We went on our own, since we were driving in the Normandy region. We went to the Normandy-American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, and Point du Hoc. I have read since then, however, that a guided tour is very informative and enriching.

Some posters have taken an early morning train from Paris to Bayeux, caught a half-day tour and returned to Paris that evening. Some posters recommend staying overnight and taking a more extensive, full-day tour.

This discussion provides useful information:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187179-i607-k4177…

MrsJAS

Essex
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2. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

There are many threads on both the Paris and Normandy Forums discussing day trips to the D-Day zone from Paris.

The day "group tours" predominantly are basedmin Bayeux, but unfortunately they leave Bayeux for the day well before the first train from Paris arrives.....

This is a time for you to learn how to use the forum search function, search bar founf above your header post, and below the end of the thread. Key in "d-day tours from Paris" or somesuch and see what comes up, as there is a wealth of information and experience out there already.

IF you can spare the time, go to Bayeux the night before and stay, ready for an early morning trip...

There are coach tours from Paris, which get good write-ups, but are expensive.

You could arrange a private guide to collect you at Bayeux, Caen or Carentan station(s) and take you around for the day. There is a list of Normandy Guides in the "Top Questions" on the full Normandy Forum....

Essex
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3. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

OOH! Read post #11 on this thread though, seems like Overlord tours have spotted an opportunity.....

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k652…

Louisville, Kentucky
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4. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

Good pick up, EW, and I found this link on Overlord's page:

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

Louisville, Kentucky
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5. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

Looked at this a bit more..these are still half day tours, morning or afternoon, but they're still good. EW and MrandMrs_JAZ, when is a guide going to pick up that a group tour starting at 9:30 could be a money maker? For us who arrived as jet lagged tourists and spent the night in Bayeux the night before our tour, we might have considered it...let alone those travelers from Paris who only have one day?

SF
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6. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

Thanks for the responses.

Right now, I'm leaning towards taking an early train from Paris into Caen. If I opt for that route, should I buy the train tickets in the U.S. online or wait until I get to Paris to buy them in person?

Gah, I feel overwhelmed already.

Louisville, Kentucky
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7. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

It will become easier as you move along in your planning process. Getting started is always overwhelming, but better here than when you are one your trip! ;-)

The tickets between Paris and Normandy are discounted for advance purchases, but it's not as deep a discount as you might find on some other rail lines. I'm a planner and I like to have things set, so I buy before I travel...but I'm "not so set" that I don't buy changable tickets. The easiest at home purchase is for a nonrefundable ticket and those can be printed at home. Our links from US based servers is a bit tricky (SNCF has an agreement with the more expensive Rail Europe for the US market) and they've recently changed. Nick Booth (sydneynick) is TA's train expert and here is a link to his website that will help you through the new website:

www.nickbooth.id.au/Tips/FrenchTrain.htm

In deciding between an at home printed ticket and a changeable ticket that you pick up in France, maybe, decide how certain you are of your schedule and if you could live with the losing the cost of a ticket you should you not use it.

You said that you are leaning toward traveling to Caen. The tours we've talked about here leave from Bayeux, and Bayeux is a charming town that was left relatively unscathed from the war. Caen was bombed to bits, so if you want cute and charming, go to Bayeux. It's a short train ride from.Caen, and you'll be happy you did.

Another issue that you should be aware of is that there is construction along the rails between Paris and Normandy. You can pretty much count on weekend travel being curtailed, but it also sometimes happens during the weekdays. To find out if this is going to happen on your travel days, do the search as Nick advises. Trains run pretty regularly and if you see a "hole" in the schedule or the trip is taking longer than 2-3 hours, construction is underway. On the longer journeys, you are being rerouted and those schedules won't work for a one day trip.

I'd really give yourself an overnight in Bayeux for the night before guided tour. If your son is really into WWII, this won't be wasted time and in fact, it's probably going to be the favorite part of your trip. This post has some links you might find helpful:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187179-i607-k5174…

...but also, check out the "Top Questions" link along the right margin on the Normandy home page, and scrolling over the "Normandy" link in the green bar at the top, select "Things to Do" and "Hotel Reviews" in the drop down.

You can do this!!!

Bayeux, France
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for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
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8. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

You don't say when you plan non coming, but if I read the schedules correctly, from july the early train will be 6:45 instead of 7:10.

You can get a full day in by being picked up at Carentan.

Probably best to concentrate in the American sector, then you can get in some paratrooper sites, utah , pointe du hoc, omaha, and the american cemetery. A guide will fill you in on the British\ canadian part.

Edited: 27 May 2013, 15:08
Louisville, Kentucky
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9. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

cpmac, that's good news about the trains leaving Paris in time for a full day tour. I hope it keeps up, but what happens if a train is late? I would think that making a group tour, especially, would be dependent upon an on time arrival. Do you think guides would wait for a late train? Do you think Carenton (instead of Bayeux) could become the destination for one day travelers and those staying closer to that location? You and others have mentioned Carenton as a meeting point for day trippers because it's closer to the sites than Bayeux, but I've assumed that this would mostly accommodate private tours. Have I been right and might this change so group tours start from Carrenton? For larger parties, a private tour is sometimes cost effective, but for one or two travelers it's expensive ( but still, IMO, sooo worth it!).

Businesses react to new circumstances, and I hope this means better choices for travelers who only have one day to visit the sites. We're going to be in Paris in July, but it's only a four day trip. My husband suggested our traveling to Bayeux for another tour (we enjoy it so much!), but with only four days (and the first day being about jet lag!), it seemed like too much to include overnight in Bayeux. It's probably too late to change our plans, but this development could have made a difference and I think it will for others.

Castlebellingham...
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10. Re: Visiting D-Day battlefield @Normandy

Malcolm Clough of www.d-daytoursnormandy.com is very obliging and he offers a pick-up service from train stations and ferry ports, etc.

His half-day tour of the landing beaches was excellent. very informative. he has a number of different itineraries on his website. d-daytoursnormandy.com/d-day-tour-itinerarie…

Edited: 27 May 2013, 22:08