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Bayeau vs. Caen as base for four days in Normandy

We're visiting Normandy for four days in August. We plan to rent an apartment through airbnb. We mostly want to visit WWII sites (my 16 year old son is a huge WWII history buff) so either Caen or Bayeau seems best. I like the idea of Bayeau because from what I can see it is a lot 'older' and more scenic but Caen has more to do. Thoughts on staying in one place vs. the other?

Posted by
185 posts

IMO, I would pick Bayeux over Caen since it is closer to the WWII sites you are going to want to see (Arromanches, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach & the American Cemetery, etc.) especially since you will be there for only 4 days. If you have a car, you can travel farther afield to St. Lo & Sainte-Mare-Eglise. The British Cemetery is also outside Bayeux and there are sites to see in the town (obviously the Tapestry for one). If you don't have a car, there are plenty of tours to the battlefields and other sites from the town (including a day trip to Mont St. Michel). I have seen lots of recommendations for hotels in Bayeux in other posts but do not know what the apartment situation is. By the way, for anyone visiting Normandy, do like the locals do and go to a cafe in the morning and order a "cafe Calv". It will get your jets ignited for the day!

Posted by
7996 posts

I highly recommend staying in Bayeux... it's a wonderful, charming town and much closer to all the WWII sites as Tom said. Caen is a city with zero charm.

Be sure to visit the WWII museum in Bayeux... it's the best one of all imo. We didn't like the one in Caen at all.

Posted by
9110 posts

Montgomery did a pretty thorough job of flattening Caen. It was rebuilt in late-forties concrete.
The last time I was through the area was with the former director of a major American military museum. He opined that the Bayeux museum was very well done and the one at Caen sucked.
Caen is harder to get in and out of.
Bayeux is more interesting for walking around in the evening and has better places to eat.

Posted by
5 posts

Okay, thank you! Looks like we'll stay in Bayeau - it sounds much nicer.

Joan

Posted by
8304 posts

Joan - When searching for lodging be sure to spell the name of the town correctly. It is Bayeux.

Posted by
1610 posts

If your son is a real history buff, consider including the German cemetery. If my memory is correct, it's fairly close to Bayeux. It is quite the contrast to the American cemetery. It's kind of eerie and the age ( young) of so many is striking.

Posted by
7996 posts

Joan, I highly recommend Hotel d'Argouges in Bayeux. We've stayed there at least 6 times and absolutely love it. And the owner and staff are wonderful.

Posted by
5 posts

Patty, the German cemetery is an excellent idea, and one that I would not have thought of. We definitely will add it to our list. And Susan, thanks for the suggestion. We are hoping to find an apartment through airbnb, but if we don't I'll try to book at Hotel d'Argouges. I looked up their web information and it looks like a great place!

Joan

Posted by
8304 posts

If you don't find an apartment through Airbnb you might consider looking on VRBO and Homeaway. I'm renting an apartment in Amboise that was listed on both Airbnb and VRBO. After doing the math it was less expensive renting through VRBO.

Posted by
1133 posts

If you have a car, you might consider a rural B&B near Bayeux. We stayed at www.bandbnormandie.com a couple years ago and it was wonderful. Cheaper than a hotel in Bayeux too and only 10 miles from Bayeux. Odile and Jacques and their sons run a modern B&B on their 400 hundred year old working farm just outside Villiers-Bocage. It's 90 minutes to Mont St. Michel, around 20 minutes to the D Day beaches. We stayed four days and had all sorts of time to visit the beaches, museums, American cemetery, shop in small towns like Tilley-sur-seulles and Villiers-Bocage, both sites of huge battles around D Day and with the fallen in cemeteries at both. One of the largest tank battles took place in Villiers-Bocage and the British were pounded by the German armor. Lots of D Day history around there as well as around the small towns near the beaches.

Posted by
5 posts

Andrea, thanks for your recommendation to extend our search beyond AirBnB. I've since looked at these and found a number of good possibilities.

And George, thank you as well. Staying in the country sounds wonderful and we considered it. We live in a rural area, however, and for us it is such a treat to be able to walk to restaurants and shops when on vacation. I'm sure if we lived anywhere else the surrounding countryside would be our choice when we travel.

Posted by
9110 posts

Carol, it's generally better to start your own thread so that answers to your questions don't look like they're answers to Joanray's.

Anyhow, maybe this will get you started.

Regarding the car:

You have an erroneous assumption that getting the car in Caen is cheaper than at Roissy. Factually, from a check of arbitrary September dates, the airport wins 22 vs 30 bucks a day for a rental of your duration. You can drive from the airport to Caen/Bayeux faster than you can take the train. The train would add extra costs to the same day you're going to rent the car. Monet's house is between Paris and Lower Normandy - - and by taking the train to Vernon you'd have to get from the station over to Giverney, whereas by driving you could park adjacent to the attraction. You would not have to double back to Caen to return the car - - just drop it where ever you're done with it for little or no penalty.

Regarding the allocation of days:

The amount of time it takes to honor your uncles is your business, but a week at the WWII areas of Lower Normandy is quite an overkill.

Regardless, you'd have only five days remaining for the rest that you have in mind. Assuming that day twelve is your departure day, you're down to just four. Hightailing it from Caen/Bayeux to the middle of the Dordogne is seven hours or road time with just a single gas stop. Hightailing it back to Paris at the same rate is six hours. Call that the better part of two days -- heck, call it two whole days by the time you get set up in a new place to stay each night. Now you've got a single day for the chateaux around Amboise (which is fortunately along the southbound route) and one more single day for the whole Dordogne.

I'd think there's going to have to be some adjustments.

Posted by
26 posts

Joan,

We are staying in Bayeux. When are you going? We are staying at the Immolidays. I booked it through Booking.com. It is an apartment and got good ratings. Check it out. Let me know if you need anymore info. Places are hard to find due to the 70th Anniversary in Normandy.

Tina

Posted by
7996 posts

"Places are hard to find due to the 70th Anniversary in Normandy."

Won't be a problem in August.

Posted by
5 posts

Tina, we are staying at a place I booked through AirBnB. It looks like a cute little place right in the middle of everything.

Posted by
506 posts

We stayed in Honfleur, it was the greatest little port town. Lots of great restaurant and things to see and a great jump off to Normandy and all that you listed.

Posted by
7996 posts

Joan, did you enjoy your stay in Bayeux?