60th bday in Normandy

I'm in the process of planning a trip for my fathers 60th, it's a surprise gift. Just he & I. He's a huge WWII buff and one of the stops will be to visit the DDay beaches. I've heard that Bayeux is an ideal town to stay in. Are there any recommended hotels to stay in? Also, any recommended tours to take? I want to make sure we hit the American beaches; we will be there for two full days in June. Thank you!

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
673 posts

I presume you've already determined that your gift recipient would welcome international travel ... . It's hard to find, but there is a re-vamped Search box on this website that will show you volumes on the D-Day beaches from these newsboards. The topics include private vs. guidebook tours, hotel choice, and need for a car. Keep in mind that the D-Day sites are far to one corner of France. You should think carefully about travel vs. tourist activities you'd like to do. Many posters here absolutely loved their private tours. I found Rick's (in the cited book) to be a superb do-it-yourself for 10% of the cost. But you need to evaluate the audience (the two of you.) Would you get more from self-guided wandering and reading museum displays, or from a vivid, lively presentation by a subject-area expert? Are you willing to drive and repeatedly park? Does your dad have any walking impediment that a VIP tour would ease? Will your travel insurance cover the cost of a prepaid tour? Would you rather stay in a lively, pretty town with a few medieval touches, or in a scenic chateau in farm country? It's very personal. One reason to buy Rick's book is to understand how time-consuming any form of D-Day Beaches touring is. You may find yourself with no time for the Bayeux Tapestry, Honfleur, or the many gardens of Normandy and Brittany.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

There's really quite a wealth of information in Rick's book about your little surprise. Will you be there anywhere near the 6th? If so you will need to get reservations sooner rather than later. BTW - you're a good boy - = - well done.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3209 posts

Any chance you could manage more than 2 days? At least 3? That's not long for all there is to see and experience. Our favorite hotel where we've stayed 6+ times is Hotel d'Argouges in Bayeux (you're right, Bayeux is the perfect base). It's in the center of town but set back down a driveway. It's like a manor house with a lovely garden and parking. Wonderful owner and staff. Large rooms, large bathrooms, good beds, great breakfast, very clean. Bayeux has the best WWII museum of all (and there are lots), imo. You and your dad will love Normandy, it's one of our favorite places. Very nice of you!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17792 posts

Dan, What a great gift for your Father! When will this trip be taking place and where else are you planning to visit (there are LOTS of WW-II sites all over Europe). You haven't said whether your Father has any "mobility issues". I'm assuming he'll be able to get around the sites without trouble. YES, Bayeux is a perfect "base" for that area. As others have mentioned, it has a great WW-II Museum and of course the famous Tapestry which depicts a much earlier battle. It's also a really nice town to just walk around. I agree with a previous suggestion to try and make your visit at least 3 days. There's LOTS to see in that part of France. IMHO, taking at least one of the excellent local tours would be a better idea than touring on your own. It's not only the most efficient method to get to the various sites, but you'll learn far more than if you go on your own. Some tours you might consider: www.ddayhistorian.com www.daleboothnormandytours.com www.overlordtour.com www.ddaybattletours.com/elldi.php The prices and type of tours vary, so you'll have to find the one that works for you. They take care of all transportation. Some of the other sites you could visit are the Gun Batteries at Longues sur Mer, Pegasus Bridge, Arromanches, Canadian or British locations or the Maisy Battery which I believe was liberated by American Rangers (it's still under renovation but open to visitors). One possibility would be to take one of the tours, and rent a car for one day to visit sites not covered by the tour you take. Happy travels!

Posted by Gerard
Atlanta
39 posts

Bayeux is very convenient and offers lovely additional sites like the tapestry and the cathedral. Rick's hotel recommendations are good along with those on Trip Advisor. With the self tour vs guided tour it comes down to personal preference. Self tour is less expensive and allows you to spend as much time as you want at each sight.
With a guided tour you will see more sights in the same amount of time including some not in the guidebooks. The guide services listed above are all highly rated. I've had the pleasure to see some WWII sites with both my dad (a WWII vet) and my son and it's been an incredible experience. Enjoy.

Posted by Sharon
TX
505 posts

What a wonderful trip to plan! If you can swing more time in Normandy, you won't regret it. We spent 4 nights in Bayeux, with 3 full days of touring with Paul Woodadge. You can locate him at http://www.ddayhistorian.com and read about all the tour options. He's also on facebook, where you can see lots of photos from some of his tours to give you an idea of what you will see and hear.
https://www.facebook.com/DDayHistorian?fref=ts Best decision ever. Unforgettable sites and stories. We would never have known how to find so many of the out of the way places where so many poignant and memorable events happened, where so many heroic deeds took place. Would never have known so many of the heroes' stories. Lots of great hotels in Bayeux. We stayed at the Hotel Churchill, just near the square where we were picked up for the tours.

Posted by SUSAN
DALTON, MA, USA
64 posts

My husband, son, and I spent two nights at the Hotel De Saint Croix (bed and breakfast, and it's on trip advisor). We enjoyed it very much, and the breakfasts are wonderful ! We walked into town, to the tapestry museum (very good), and they actually picked us up at the hotel for an Overlord tour (which they don't normally do....but only a short walk to where they gather their people). We did the Band of Brothers all day tour and it was wonderful....very informative and we never would have learned as much on our own. Sometimes I think it's better to pay for the expertise.
Enjoy !

Posted by SUSAN
DALTON, MA, USA
64 posts

My husband, son, and I spent two nights at the Hotel De Saint Croix (bed and breakfast, and it's on trip advisor). We enjoyed it very much, and the breakfasts are wonderful ! We walked into town, to the tapestry museum (very good), and they actually picked us up at the hotel for an Overlord tour (which they don't normally do....but only a short walk to where they gather their people). We did the Band of Brothers all day tour and it was wonderful....very informative and we never would have learned as much on our own. Sometimes I think it's better to pay for the expertise.
Enjoy !

Posted by Shelly
Charlotte, NC, USA
51 posts

As others have said, if you can stretch your stay in Normandy to at least 3 days, you won't regret it. I'm a huge fan of the area, have stayed in Bayeux 4 times. Yes, Hotel d'Argouges was lovely, but last summer (during D-Day anniversary) I stayed at Le Relais De La Tour Louise, a wonderful in-town B&B with a lovely view of the cathedral. I took a tour once but have done it on my own since both ways have their advantages. Renting a car, stopping where you want for how long you want, pulling off on small roads to explore tiny cemeteries, taking a long walk along a path once walked by the Allies, talking to the residents ... it's an unforgettable experience. Do a lot of reading, narrow down the towns and museums you want to see (there are several I've been spellbound by every one I've been to), and go from there.
Sharing it with your father ... yes, as others have said - bless you :)

Posted by dorsey
san diego
32 posts

My daughter and I went in the spring 2012, and stayed at the Hotel Reine Mathilde: http://www.hotel-bayeux-reinemathilde.fr/ We had a room on the second floor (no elevators), with a window that overlooked the Notre Dame cathedralvery spectacular, especally when the cathedral is lit up at night. Our rate was around 100 American dollars. We had one queen bed, but that was fine. The hotel has a cafegreat pizzas and crepes and salads.... The bonus for us wasit is maybe a 1/4 mile walk to the pickup point for the DDay tours (we did Overlord tourshalf dayexcellent..we hit only Omaha Beach, plus the cemetery at Normandy). We took the train from Paris, got off in Bayeux, then walked about a mile to our hotel (I think there were cabs at the train station, though).The town of Bayeux is just lovelyoutdoor markets, cafes, restaurants...everything in walking distance. Do not miss the Tapestryreally amazing.

Posted by Sharon
Byron Center, MI, USA
58 posts

Shelly so glad to hear you stayed at Le Relais De La Tour Louise. My husband, 16 year old Grandson and I will be staying there for 5 nights the first week of April. It helps to know someone that has stayed there and liked it. Sharon