England/Northern Ireland/Normandy travel

Greetings, I am currently living in Wiesbaden, Germany, stationed here with the military. My parents will be visiting me in a few months and I wanted to get some travel tips from seasoned European travelers. My parents want to spend most of the time traveling in and around London, then to Northern Ireland, Dublin, and finally to Normandy, France. 1) Since we're traveling from Germany, I'm trying to figure out how to arrange the itinerary. I believe it would be best to fly to Belfast first, then fly from Belfast to London, and then take the Eurostar from London to Calais, France, rent a car and then drive down to Bayeux, France. However, I would like others opinions first before I settle on a plan. 2) We will have roughly 2 weeks total to travel to spend. I was thinking 3-4 days in London, 4 days in Northern Ireland and Ireland, and then 3 days in France. Does this seem reasonable? 3) What are some places we absolutely have to see in Northern Ireland? What are some locations that 50+ year olds would enjoy the most? I want my parents to have a pleasant stay in Europe. Thanks in advance for your help! Any tips are greatly appreciated.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1339 posts

hi, im not savvy with the N. Ireland, but you may want to look at gonig the other way around since youre already on the contient. but i would look at train vs plane $$$ and travel times. Time being the critical factor since its short. > paris > Normandy (approx 2 hour train ride from Paris to Bayeux) > London (approx 40? minutes chunnel from Calais to Dover via Eurostar)
> N. Ireland and Ireland I think the drive from Calais to Bayeux/normandy maybe a long one. I asked about that many years ago when i was working in Calais. this is just my opinion, you can do as you want on your days scheduled, but i feel you are cutting Paris too short. Even london is too short. But it will depend alot on what you all want to do/see in each place. NOrmandy will take a FULL day to see most (not all either) of the US areas and that doesnt include stepping inside any musuems! happy trails.

Posted by Marty
Rockville, MD, USA
70 posts

I can address just one part of your question. We (myself, husband, 2 sons ages 24 and 27) recently trained from London to Bayeux by taking the Eurostar to Paris, then changed train stations via taxi and training to Bayeux. We chose that option because we didn't need a car for the D-Day battlefields since we had hired a guide with a van. We spent four days in Bayeux: two on a D-Day tour of American sites (Dale Booth, excellent), one split between the Tapestry and walking around Bayeux, and on the spur of the moment one day renting a car for a trip to Honfleur. We could have spent a fifth day: the Hotel Churchill has a bus to to Mont St. Michel. And when we left the boys were talking about returning to do the British and Canadian beaches. I recommend you get your parents involved in the planning, especially in balancing how many days at each location. And when the time comes, enjoy yourselves without fretting. That's what Rick Steves means when he says "assume you will return". Have a great trip!

Posted by Sally
Wiesbaden, Germany
2 posts

Thank you so much for the information. I agree, it is very important to get my parents involved in the planning process. After I typed up all there is to see and do at each place, my Dad decided against visiting Ireland. It's just too much. I would rather spend a week in France and about 4 days in London, to save some time for my parents to enjoy Germany at then end of their trip. I think taking the Eurostar from Paris to London sounds like a great idea. I've visited Normandy already, and I do think visiting the British and Canadian beaches would add a different dimension to the trip. I also want to see the German cemetary at La Cambe.