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D Day sites

Many years ago, I took a D Day trip.....Train Paris to Caen...Small group tour of Museum and beaches. I will be in Paris with my son and grandson (14) . Would appreciate any and all guidance for such a trip again. The offerings I see on line confuse me abit or seem really expensive. Date roughly 15-16 June time line. Thanks

Posted by
27447 posts

The best way to do this is to spend at least a couple of nights in Bayeux and take one of the small-group (van) tours originating in that town. I used and was happy with Overlord Tours, but there are other options. Overlord charges roughly 110 euros per person, I believe. I would definitely not want to be on a big-bus tour. There ae a lot of stops to make on the invasion tours, and unloading and reloading a full-size bus would waste a lot of time.

Overlord also has a tour designed for people staying in Paris. You take an early train from Paris to Bayeux (for which you purchase your own tickets) and are met at the Bayeux train station at about 9:30 AM. You have a full-day tour and then are dropped off at the station in time to catch a train back to Paris. This is more comfortable than taking a bus all the way from Paris, and it probably means a bit less transportation time (though I'm not sure about that). It definitely gives you more time seeing the invasion sites. If I didn't have time to spend any nights in Bayeux (which does have some attractions of its own), this is absolutely how I'd want to see the invasion sites, assuming I didn't have the $$$ to arrange a private tour.

https://www.overlordtour.com/product/tour-2fs-omaha-utah-full-day-tour-week-days-only/

Since your schedule limits the days on which you can take a tour, you need to walk a fine line between not booking too early (for fear of having to cancel or reschedule your trip to France due to COVID-19 or for some other reason) and waiting so long to book that the June 15-16 tours are sold out. I don't know what guidance to give you there. I haven't dug into Overlord's cancellation policy, but many tour companies are rather restrictive about refunds; it's often not like booking a hotel and being able to cancel up to 24 hours before arrival.

Posted by
1172 posts

I highly recommend you spend at least a night in Normandy. You'll spend the better part of a day getting to and from Normandy from Paris, and that doesn't leave a lot of time for seeing the sights. Keep in mind that early/mid June is about as busy as it gets in Normandy due to the D-day anniversary. Not that big a big deal for getting around if you have a car (also highly recommended), but the tours and accommodations will fill up quickly if they haven't already.

Posted by
211 posts

thank you for both replies . I shall plan accordingly.

Posted by
183 posts

Gary, I know everyone here pushes the tours. But I will tell you, a couple years ago my wife, daughter and I made the journey without use of a tour. Of course, we had a car. And we don't speak more than 5 words of French.! Tousles allowed us unlimited time to wander through the museum/exhibit at the Cemetary and then wander among the fallen. It gave us unlimited time at Pointe du Hoc to wander the bomb craters. And to go to the beach and see the Mulberrys. I suppose a tour might have uncovered something I missed, but I doubt we would have had the time to ponder what we were visiting.

Note, there is an App for touring Pointe Du Hoc. It may help your 14 year old understand what it took for the Rangers to capture the fortifications.

We spent a couple days in Normandy seeing other sites and just touring the Bocage Countryside.

Posted by
1172 posts

What GoWest said! I have been eight times without a tour. Some of the best times are when I could just sit or stand in one place and ponder the actions almost eighty years ago without being rushed. Reflections are good. I will say that whether you take a tour or not, you owe it to yourself and your family to learn as much history before you go. The more you know, the more you will get out of the trip regardless of how it is conducted, and it is easier and cheaper to do your research from home. Also as pointed out, there are apps for Normandy, Pointe-du-Hoc in particular, and the Normandy American Cemetery that are very informative.

Phil

Posted by
4159 posts

I am of the same mind as Phil . I visited the Normandy beaches independently with a car . The driving is easy , and the ability to take your time , and to dwell and reflect on what you see , is incomparable . When you visit the American Cemetery at Coleville , the experience is enormous , and it will have a lasting impact . As Phil said , the more homework you do before you go , the more you will appreciate what you experience . One of stops we made was in Vierville sur Mer , just off the D514 Route de Littoral ( coast road ) The memorial there in the shape of a submarine conning tower and the inscription on it has stayed in my mind;s eye since I saw it ten years ago . https://lonelyplanetimages.imgix.net/mastheads/GettyImages-557634035_full.jpg?sharp=10&vib=20&w=1200

Posted by
1175 posts

We have both taken the train from Paris to Caen and the ferry from Portsmouth to near Caen and picked up our rental car right across the street from the Caen railroad station. We drove to Bayeaux and stayed at the Churchill hotel where we met a tour of the D Day beaches on our first visit. Like all tours, we spent scant time at some sights so we returned the next day with our car for another full day, with 3-4 hours spent at the American cemetery above Omaha Beach. It's easy to skip tours if you do just a little history of that momentous day, spend a little time having lunch at local places, and stay as long as you want at some sights. We visited the graves of the Niland brothers, the soldiers featured in "Saving Private Ryan" and other notables like General Teddy Roosevelt, commander of the 4th Infantry Division he led ashore, landed at the wrong place, but successfully drove inland. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for that leadership. He has a special marker denoting the Medal of Honor. "Band of Brothers" features the 101st Airborne taking out German guns sighted on the 4th Division on Utah Beach. You can always find men from your state that are buried there. Go to abmc.com to research American cemeteries across Europe and elsewhere.

Posted by
211 posts

thank you to all. you have all been extremely helpful. I am a "recovering" high school history teacher and welcome the research suggestion. thanks again.