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day trips from Le Havre- not WWII

We booked a last-minute transatlantic cruise and discovered that almost every ship excursion is fully booked. We would like to go to some "charming French town" such as Honfleur or even Rouen. My problem is that either the bus websites for Honfleur are funky or the buses are all sold out. We are experienced with independent travel.

Do you have any recommendations on how to economically book a bus to Honfleur or a train to Rouen?

BTW- I did a WWII research trip in 2018 all over Europe so that is why no WWII sites.

Thanks!

Posted by
1115 posts

You can easily take a a train from Le Havre to Rouen. You'll take a TER train (or even a bus if you prefer The bus system to get to Honfleur is very simple as well. ). You can just as well take a taxi as well (60EURish).

https://www.sncf-connect.com/ is going to be your friend for making these bookings. For Normandie/Calvados region you can use https://www.nomadcar14.fr/ for help. I don't see where you can purchase them online but there are many trips daily.

And if you want to be really French, you can use blablacar---- www.blablacar.fr - a rideshare app that is as French as can be (mentioned by Président Macron last night during the debate!) This may run your 4-9EUR and you'll have a memorable experience.

Posted by
3799 posts

There are no reservations needed (or even possible) for buses to Honfleur. Frequent buses join the two, on several lines (39, 50, also a shuttle called "bus verts"). Also, Honfleur is close enough for a cab not to be extortionate. I do not know the exact price, but it is a 15-mile, 30-minute ride.

Posted by
57 posts

Thank you so much. I feel much better. We booked last minute and have been scrambling!

Posted by
8388 posts

Have you gone onto Cruise Critic to find your transatlantic's role call. Often groups on the roll call join together to do independent excursions. You may find others who want to go to Honfleur or have organized an excursion you can join.

Pardon my link: it’s the UK, which is what pops up for me since I’m in France.
https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/forum/20-roll-calls/

Posted by
1850 posts

As Bets has mentioned you might consider putting together your own outing. We have occasionally chatted up fellow passengers and arranged our own small group with drivers who inevitably appear at every pier. Often the drivers seem acutely aware of the ships offerings as their itineraries are identical and a fraction of the price. Be aware that ships need not wait for independent travelers at departure time. We have visited both Honfleur and Rouen and liked both. It poured nonstop when we arrived in Le Havre and nothing looked too picturesque from our limited vantage point but I’d think going elsewhere would be a good idea. Safe travels.

Posted by
12875 posts

In that area I would suggest Etretat, not a WW2 site.

Posted by
181 posts

A transatlantic cruise had been a boyhood dream for Denis, so in 2017, for our first trip to Europe, we took one. We didn't really care about any of the excursion options, so we didn't bother. After the great hordes disembarked for their day trips to Paris (seemed the most popular choice), we just stayed in Le Havre. We had gotten Euros from an ATM while docked in Ponta Delgada, so we already had some money. We went for a walk, desiring to go to the Malraux Museum to see both the Impressionist paintings and the building itself. (I was excited not to have to wear my seasickness bracelets on land!) It's a very nice, modestly sized museum, which we very much enjoyed. Then we just went for a walk around town, looking at whatever there was. After all, we'd never been there before, so it was all new. Following some garden beds, absolutely gorgeous spring beds of such happy colors, we found ourselves in front of city hall. We kept wandering, looking at shop windows, sticking our heads into open churches, just plain experiencing something different. Nervously I bought my first (of many) baguettes in unsure French. I was pleased, lol! It was a good day. We had finished with our dinner and were just relaxing when the ravenous day trippers returned. So, it's an option if you don't find one that appeals to you more.

http://www.muma-lehavre.fr/en

http://unesco.lehavre.fr/en

Posted by
21039 posts

I used to do what Donna & Dennis did all over Europe, when I was young and had very little money. What I like best about Europe is that it looks different from home. That is more evident outdoors than it is inside sightseeing attractions. I've developed additional interests now and do go to a lot of traditional sights, but I still do a lot of wandering around, and it's really what I enjoy most.

Posted by
57 posts

Thank you for all of your suggestions. This trip is a very last-minute idea and we paid just $340 for a balcony room for 11 nights to cross the Atlantic. The majority of the passengers on the Cruise Critic roll call and Facebook seem to be on ship excursions. One person who planned a private excursion to Mont St Michel was thrown under the bus by his tour company when they canceled him to accept a better offer. Yikes.

So, we will have a google map, train schedules, and ideas for LeHavre, Roeun, and Honfleur and just exit the ship to see what we can do based on the weather. Roaming around towns and finding a cafe to have coffee and pastry is a lovely idea in any port. We are reasonably well-traveled but don't get tired of cathedrals and historic areas. It is sort of hard to wow us and paying $250-300 for a tour (where we will forget 90% of the info) isn't all that appealing.

Posted by
8388 posts

I don't know what you meant nor the implication, but all the small-group D-Day tours we know of are in the 75€ per person range and are run by Brits.
Sorry you are having so much trouble.

Posted by
1115 posts

Le Havre itself has some very cool things. The Beaux-Arts museum is lovely and there's some great restaurants. My personal favorite is the restaurant Les Enfants Sages.

Posted by
27709 posts

I'm sorry that the guides you had in 2018 weren't worth it.

How much annual income do you think a fully trained and very knowledgeable guide should make if they are able to relate to the precise history of the people they guide?

How much should that break down to per person on their tours.

I ask because I never thought of that issue.

Should there be a specific reduction if the person on the tour is American? What if the person leading the tour isn't French?

Posted by
12875 posts

I would want to know if tours pertaining to D-Day are given in other languages, such as French and German, ie, tours not specifically aimed at Americans. That could well be an option, .... for comparing and contrasting.

Posted by
658 posts

As already pointed out, may of the D-day tours are conducted by British ex-pats—not French. So it is not the French who are making a "huge profit." But if you go to the American Normandy Cemetery, there are many employees of the American Battle Monuments Commissions (https://www.abmc.gov/) who are more than happy to give you info, details, and explanations for any of the grave sites there. They are employees of ABMC, but many are also French Citizens, and I have found them very helpful. Or, you can—as I have—do your own research and visit the area independently. I believe that mostly what you are paying for is the historical research that you could have done on your own if so inclined.

Posted by
5249 posts

Rouen is a great place to visit, for more than a day if possible, and reachable by train from LeHavre. But maybe not a good choice for you given the time constraint and ship departure. We did a ship excursion there on a cruise like yours and were happy with it. But I suggest you consider just going into LeHavre, visiting the Malraux Museum and other sights, and hanging out, as others suggested. The city was heavily bombed in WWII so not as much "charm" as some others in France, but it's a bird in the hand for you.