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How Long do I need

Hi Travelers, Being a Ricknick, I did drink the Kool Aid
My plans for Fall of 2022, are Normandy, Wine region of Germany, Medieval Germany and wonderfull Austria.
I like to plan every move I am making, from past experience we should land at CDG mid morning 9am +-
RER to St. Lazier and on to Bayeux, I est. 4-5pm arrival in Bayeux. We will be tired and ready for bed, but I know we need to make it to at least 7-8pm for bed. So any thing other than dinner in Bayeux is probably out.
Next morning, head to Caen by train to pick up rental car, then drive to Omaha Beach and Museum, Several Questions I have.
1. With wanting to got o Beaches, Peguces bride and Mont. St. Michel, a car is the best option as far as convivence and cost yes or
No
2. Is it possible to go to Omaha and Mont St. Michel in one day?
3. Does it make sense to train from Bayeux to Caen for two people to pick up and return rental. Pick up Tuesday and return same day

Posted by
487 posts

I would rent a car in Bayeux, then drive to the museum in Caen before heading off to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery. The next day I would drive to Mont Saint-Michel. Is there a reason you want to pick up your rental car in Caen?

Posted by
25 posts

I was thought their is no Rental cars in Bayeux, I was going to use Hertz

Posted by
2642 posts

Why not spend the first night in Caen, see the museum, pick up the rental car and then head on to your day trip? Caen would be an easier transit from your flight and, in my book, on arrival whatever is easier is best. Could you drop the car in Bayeux afterwards?

Posted by
487 posts

Hi Davie, call Hertz and ask if you can rent a car in Bayeux. If not, I agree with Wray that Caen is easier to get to from CDG. I would even consider sleeping in Caen and taking a day trip to Bayeux if you can't rent a car there but I think you can.

Posted by
2985 posts

What? You’re going to Bayeux and not going to see the tapestry? Do reconsider. Since you are planning to be there, seeing the tapestry will take just an hour or two.

Posted by
1536 posts

I think the tapestry will travel to the UK sometime in 2022. Check availability if you hope to see it in France.

Posted by
4444 posts

I think it's more convenient to rent a car in Caen, which is a little closer to Paris than Bayeux. So why take the train to Bayeux just for the night, then turn around and train back to Caen for the car. Just spend that first night in Caen. The museum there is very good but takes a long time and probably not a good choice the day after your overnight flight.

I agree, though, that the Bayeux Tapestry is well worth seeing (if it's there), as is the cathedral.

For a trip combining the beaches and Mont-St-Michel, a car is probably the best idea. Via Michelin shows about a 2.5-hour drive between Omaha Beach and MSM, so you could certainly see that and other beaches, and get to MSM the same day. An overnight at MSM (on the island if possible) would avoid the day-trip crowds.

Enjoy the Kool Aid!

Posted by
17858 posts

I've stayed in both Caen and Bayeux (for logistical reasons--Caen is the transit hub but invasion-site tours mostly depart from Bayeux). Bayeux has a lovely historic center, whereas most of Caen was flattened during the war. If you'll have time to walk around and appreciate the architecture (not to mention the tapestry, if it's there, and the Cathedral), Bayeux is a more interesting place to stay. If you don't have time for those things, you can save a bit of time by sleeping in Caen. Pre-pandemic, people said there was just one car-rental place in Bayeux and several in Caen; I haven't used any of them.

My recommendation for people who want to see invasion sites and are not WWII historians is that they take a one-day (or longer) small-group tour rather than just driving around themselves. A tour will be much more efficient and the driver/guide will provide a lot of background information.

As for museums, I really liked the Peace Museum in Caen, but it is large (covering the lead-up to the war and the Cold War as well as WWII itself), expensive and typcially very, very crowded. It takes about a full day to see the whole thing if you want to read the posted explanatory material. Even if you don't want that in-depth a visit, it's not the sort of place you should plan to visit for just an hour or so, and I think it would be a mistake to go to it on your arrival day in Europe. Bayeux has an excellent museum focusing on the Normandy invasion. You can see the whole thing in a few hours. It's on the edge of town, not in the historic center. I believe there's a British cemetery nearby. Again, I wouldn't go to the museum on the day I flew into Paris, but walking around the historic center would be a good activity, and if you reasonably alert you could try to see the Cathedral and/or the tapestry. I believe the Bayeux tourist office runs walking tours, but I don't know at what time(s) of the day.

If you decide the Caen museum is right for you and plan to rent a car for other reasons, you should certainly use the car to get to the museum, which is well out of the center of town. There is bus service, but it's not very frequent, and a taxi would cost money you could instead put toward the cost of the car rental.

I haven't been to Mont-St-Michel, but a car does seem to be the easiest/most efficient way to manage that side-trip from Bayeux/Caen. However, pre-pandemic, the Churchill Hotel in Bayeux ran day-trips. If you want to explore public transportation options, I believe the nearest rail station is Pontorson, from which there's some sort of bus service to Mont-St-Michel.

Edited to add: You can get driving directions and driving-time estimates from viamichelin.com.

Posted by
2159 posts
  1. I think you would be better off taking a tour to see the D-Day Beaches and Pegasus Bridge.

  2. It may be possible to see Omaha and Mont St. Michel in one day, but I don't think you would have enough time to enjoy either one.

  3. No personal experience with your proposed plan.

If you end up in Bayeux on a Monday night - many of the restaurants are closed on Monday night, and it can be hard to find a table. Consider asking your hotel to make a reservation for you in advance.

Posted by
483 posts

One big vote against the Caen "Museum." It is the least impressive museum in the area, and is not near anything else of interest (and would take a huge chunk of the day just getting there and back to anything else you would want to see). I doubt they would get half the traffic if not for Rick Steves' inexplicable fawning over it. I also vote against what is commonly called the Omaha Beach museum. it is just a small gallery with a few artifacts on the road to Omaha Beach.

My favorite museums in the area are Museum of the Battle of Normandy in Bayeux, the Utah Beach Museum (the best IMHO!), and the Overlord museum—which is right outside the entrance to the Normandy American cemetery. Another wonderful little museum is the Arromanches museum which covers the artificial harbor—the remains of which you can see right out the window. But they are going through a huge overhaul, so I don't know what the new one will be like when they reopen. Right up the hill is Arromanches 360, which is a very good 3D immersive show, and it is on a hill overlooking Gold Beach. Pegasus Bridge and museum is wonderful, particularly if you know the story behind this battle ahead of time. And the Airborne Museum in Sainte-Mère-Église is also great with a focus on the American paratrooper at the opposite end of the battle area from Pegasus Bridge (which was British paratroopers). But both it and Utah Beach are a little ways from Omaha beach (app. 45 minutes). They are in my favorite area, but if you are trying to fit both Omaha and MSM in one day (not recommended), it would unfortunately be tough to get there.

Yes, a car is the only way to get around in Normandy. I've rented in Bayeux, Caen and Cherbourg. Caen is definitely easiest, with more options—but if you are already in Bayeux, the Hertz at a gas station on the periphery is friendly enough. Check carefully the hours of the rental car agencies in Caen too. They often take a two-hour lunch right when some popular trains from Paris arrive.

Posted by
6970 posts

I thought there is no Rental cars in Bayeux, I was going to use Hertz

Hertz looks to be the only agency in Bayeaux. How the rate may compare with a car from Caen, is something I did not research.

Posted by
679 posts

How about just grabbing a car at CDG and heading out to Caen, Bayeux, etc. after you land? One morning we rented a car in Paris, drove to Arromanches-les-Bains (definitely worth visiting), then on to the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach, then over to MSM in time for dinner. It was a full day but I sure slept well that night.

Posted by
7947 posts

I strongly disagree with the idea to rent a car at CDG upon arrival unless you know you sleep well on the plane. Driving jet lagged is not recommended. Via Michelin says the fastest route from CDG to Bayeux is 4h16. Expect it to take longer. After my first trip to Europe, where I picked up a car in Frankfurt upon arrival and drove to Freiburg, I realized how foolish and potentially dangerous that was. I now won’t drive more than about an hour upon arrival. It sounds like your time in Normandy is limited. If the Churchill in Bayeux is still doing tours to MSM I would suggest taking the train to Bayeux upon arrival. Explore the town and the next day take a guided tour for the D Day sights. The next day take the tour to MSM, and the following day move on to your next location.

Posted by
2985 posts

Just to elaborate a bit on Andrea’s post above, it is generally advised that one add 25% to viamichelin’s time estimates. So, you are looking at 5+ hours of driving in unfamiliar territory, with signs in a foreign language and icons different from those used in the U.S. It’s not a good plan.

Posted by
1830 posts

Just curious, but how much time are you planning to devote to the Normandy portion of your itinerary?
In order to see the two sights you've mentioned without running yourselves ragged in the process you'll need at least 2 full days (or 3 nights) in Bayeux.
You might consider foregoing the idea of a car and just relying on trains and local day trips and tours to visit the places that most interest you. You could greatly simplify your logistics by taking the train to Bayeux upon arrival, then taking advantage of the shuttle from the Churchill Hotel in Bayeux to MSM one day, and booking one of the D-Day tours from the city on your other day. Either one of those tours will get you back to Bayeux by early afternoon - plenty of time to catch a return train back to Paris if you don't particularly want to spend the extra night in Bayeux.
Suggest doing a sample booking on AutoEurope https://www.autoeurope.com/ to see if renting a car for a day or two really is your best option. I believe that you'll find it to be quite an expensive proposition. You may find that the money saved by not renting a car would more than offset the cost of one or both of the tours mentioned above, and letting someone else do the driving might be a much more pleasant alternative for you

Posted by
17858 posts

I believe Robert meant to say the D-Day tour will get you back to Bayeux in the late afternoon. The full-day tours are just that, and the half-day tours I definitely do not recommend, because so much of that abbreviated time is spent just driving from Bayeux to the invasions sites. I'm not sure how well it would work to take a regular full-day tour and catch a train back to Paris the same day. You can't take your luggage on the van used by the tour, so you'd have to leave it at your hotel and retrieve it afterward. They you'd need to get to the train station, which is on the periphery of town, a considerable walking distance from the tour drop-off point.

I don't know how predictive the current train schedule is of what will be available when things open up. Right now there's an 8:20 PM departure on weekdays that arrives in Paris at 10:50. I'd be very, very leery of the 6:37 PM and 6:44 PM departures; I think the odds of making one of them are not particularly good. All the trains out of Bayeux are regionals, so there's no advantage to buying tickets in advance, except that it would be a shame to miss a train by a few minutes because you were buying your ticket when it departed. There should be a ticket-vending machine at the train station as well as a staffed counter; the latter might be open only in the period leading up to train departures.

Posted by
2159 posts

I'm not sure how well it would work to take a regular full-day tour and catch a train back to Paris the same day. You can't take your luggage on the van used by the tour, so you'd have to leave it at your hotel and retrieve it afterward.

Actually, we were on an Overlord Tour in September 2019, and the driver/guide dropped off two couples at the Bayeux train station at the end of the day - and at least one of the couples had luggage!

Posted by
4598 posts

davie,

Normandy is wonderful, you will love it.

I would not advise going to Bayeux without seeing the amazing Bayeux Tapestry which is 900 years old and tells the story of the Norman conquest of England. Don't miss it.

Do not go to Bayeux and then backtrack to Caen to pickup a rental car. We did the D-day beaches, American Cemetery and Bayeux in a full day, but it was full. We took a tour, which you might consider instead of renting a car for that part of the trip.

Don't try to do Omaha and Mt. St. Michel in one day.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank each one of you for your advice. After searching I discovered two tours both together appox. $60 more than renting a car, but a lot less hassle. I was a bit reluctant of driving in France, not reading or speaking French.
with 1/2 day tour I can visit the tapestry also.

Thanks

Posted by
679 posts

Unless you hit construction or an accident, the trip from Paris to the Bayeux area should take less than 3 hours (I've done it). You're on an A route practically the entire way. Also, unless you're elderly, in not the greatest of health, or naturally tired all the time driving on major highways after a long flight is no big deal. It's actually relaxing and you're excited to get to your destination. On my last European trip I drove 6 hours after landing because of a French transportation strike. By driving you will save time, money, can set your own schedule, aren't stranded and scrambling when the transportation workers go on strike, and see things/have fun experiences you didn't even imagine before your trip.

Posted by
24613 posts

I'm glad that KBK is able to drive safely with jetlag.

I'd just like to mention that many people are different and for them it may be less safe.