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d-day beaches possible as a day trip from Paris??

Hello everyone -
Have any of you ever gone to 1 or 2 d-day beaches as a day trip from Paris? We are trying to decide if this is feasible in one day, or if we should wait on the d-day beaches. We have been trying to get a private tour for our family, and the person we have been talking too seems to think it wouldn't be worth it to make all the arrangements to go out for the day. Have any of your done it in just one day? Is it worth it? I know we wouldn't get the full effect - I just wanted to at least get there and be able to see 1 or 2 beaches. Now I am wondering if it's too much travel to be able to get the effect of seeing the d-day beaches.
Thanks for any of your input!

Jen
p.s. (our kids are ages 15 down to 2 - the older ones really want to see it - the youngers would love to just see the beach and be able to collect sea shells while we are there).

Posted by celeste
ATL, GA, USA
655 posts

Jen - at the top of the page is a "search" field with a magnifying glass. If you search for d day tours you'll get tons of posts where this has been discussed recently. The short answer is that yes, you can do it in a very long day from Paris, if you're up very early and don't get back until late. Would I do that with a two year old? Probably not, but only you can make that decision.
If you're determined to go, you might be better off renting a car and driving to the beach you're most interested in. Driving is easy and that would allow you to stop as you need to with the kids (how many?).

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
2651 posts

This company offers a one-day tour that takes 14 hours from Paris back to Paris, and includes a visit to the WWII memorial museum in Caen as well as time on a couple of the beaches and the cemetery at Omaha Beach. I haven't taken this tour, and I'd consider it far too rushed. We spent half a day in the Caen museum and most of a separate day visiting the cemetery and beaches on our own, based in Bayeux. (Plus another day in Bayeux itself with the cathedral and tapestry.)

I found this 14-hour tour on Google, and I suggest you look there for more ideas if you haven't already. Based on Via Michelin, at least five of the 14 hours would be riding from central Paris to Caen and back. I wouldn't recommend this tour because I think it would be too rushed, but if you want to spend just one day it might work for you.

If you can spend a night in Bayeux, you can find other tours that have been highly recommended by posters on this forum, such as the Overlord tour. I'm sure you'll hear about that one and others. Bayeux has good train service from Paris so you won't need a car. I'd suggest one of these Bayeux-based tours, with an overnight there, as an alternative to the one-day tour from Paris you're thinking about. But only you know how much time you have overall or what your priorities are.

Posted by yosemite1
Placentia, CA
765 posts

I did a "big bus" tour from Paris. The tour I took was from "Paris Vision." We left around 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning and got back to Paris around 8:30 pm. It was a long day, but it was the most moving experience I have had in my 6 vacations to Europe. They have an English website that you could look at. The tour was the most economical I could find at the time. The tour guide talked on the bus, but you were on your own when you reached the sites which I liked as I was free to explore what I wanted to see.

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
5699 posts

If you go with an organized tour group there will be minimum time for playing in the ocean and/or looking for sea shells. Just be sure you have an accurate understanding of what to expect. Personally it's just too far away and too much to see to only devote 1 day to it.

Posted by stoutfella
East Peoria, IL
466 posts

Yes, if you do a search, you'll find lots of information, including my take in multiple comments. It's totally doable if you take the train from Gare Saint Lazare in the morning and arrange a half-day tour of D-Day sites. We did it and don't for a moment regret the long day. BUT (big BUT), I think you're just asking for a lot of cranky time trying to do it with very young children. My wife, 17-year-old son and I did just fine, but little kids will get nothing from the day and just make everyone miserable. A half-day tour is a whirlwind. There is time to walk on beaches for a little while and then get back in the van. No playtime. Said as a father who's helped raise five kids: Don't do it. Just don't.

Posted by Jen B.
Denver, CO
35 posts

Honestly, and I hate to leave a negative reply, but I would strongly caution you. My husband and I spent a week in Normandy two years ago and it was not enough time. Each day wore us out, and we didn't have any children in tow. There is so much to see beyond a few beaches. I cannot highlight how significant of a difference it was with our private full-day tour guide on Day 1 compared to the half-day 8-person tour group we went on to see the big sites on Day 2. Absolutely no comparison in terms of knowledge base held by the Day 1 historian vs. the Day 2 college student tour guide. Anyway, it would be an expensive and long day for all of you. You know your children best and what their limits are, but I would suggest something closer to Paris such as Giverny or Chateau of Thoiry, which is a zoological park admist botanic gardens and a castle.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
16797 posts

Anything is doable - it is just the amount of pain you are willing to endure. Personally think it is much to far to see as a day trip from Paris. Paris is a long way from the beaches - by design. Remember the beaches are over 50 miles in length plus another 25 miles or so inland. Until you are there you really don't have an appreciation for how large the area is.

We stayed in the area and had a very rushed one day tour to see a portion of the beaches, the cemetery, and a couple inland sites. By rush I mean it started at 8am and end around 7pm. Few breaks. But a great tour since we had time to explore each site a little bit on our own. I would not recommend it as a day trip from Paris especially with kids. And there are no sea shells on the beaches. Not that type of beach.

Posted by Jtraveler
NY, NY
486 posts

"emphasized textJen - at the top of the page is a "search" field with a magnifying glass."

The snark is not entirely necessary, is it?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
27896 posts

Jen,

To add to the comments from the others, visiting the D-Day beaches as a day trip from Paris is not an easy trip, due to the travel times involved. The easiest option for one day is to take the tour that Dick mentioned earlier, but it will be a LONG day and it's not cheap. Again as others have mentioned, the landing sites cover a wide area, so you'd need transportation once you arrive in the area.

The best option in a limited time frame (IMO) would be along these lines......

  • Day 1 - travel to Bayeux in the morning, check into a pre-arranged hotel - tour the famous Bayeux Tapestry which describes a much earlier battle and then the excellent WW-II Museum there.
  • Day 2 - depart in the morning (~08:00) on one of the excellent D-Day tours for a full day tour of the main sights, culminating at the American Cemetery (your kids may be interested in the graves of two of the Niland brothers, which Saving Private Ryan was based on). Another very interesting and moving site is the small Church at Angoville au Plain, where two Medics from the 101st Airborne (Band of Brothers) performed exemplary service. The tours provide transportation (often using a large Van) and the guides are exceptional at presenting a good overview of the events, and will make the history "come alive" for your group. They also know how to get to each of the sites in the quickest time possible, so you won't waste any time. Once you arrive back in Bayeux in the late afternoon, take the train back to Paris.

There are a large number of different tour firms operating in Normandy, and Overlord Tour is one you could look at. There are many others in different prices ranges. If you need other suggestions for tour firms, post another note here. With any of the tours, it's essential to prearrange as they're often booked up during the peak travel season (May-September).

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
4892 posts

Everyone perceives differently. Celeste was being helpful. She's a long-term participant whose style isn't snarky. I'm clumsy enough that I'd miss the search.

Posted by JHK
Palo Alto, California, United States
1546 posts

I don't see any snark in Celeste's comment but I guess we are all different.

Posted by Denny
Columbus, OH, USA
1337 posts

I had been visiting this forum for a long time before I ever noticed the Search box. I thought Celeste's reply was perfectly appropriate and apt.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
16797 posts

I fail to see how Jtrav added anything with that comment and it was so far off base.

Posted by celeste
ATL, GA, USA
655 posts

Thanks, everyone. No snark intended. That box escapes folks visiting here all the time.

Like mama always said, if you don't have anything nice to say, be silent.